Renaissance Man

James Grubb, professor of history, has been named the Lipitz Professor of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for the 2010-2011 academic year. Grubb is an expert on Renaissance Italy.

“Jim Grubb is not only one of the foremost scholars internationally of the Renaissance, but is a talented, dedicated and selfless teacher and member of the UMBC community. He richly deserves being honored as this year's Lipitz Professor,” said John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Grubb’s work has earned him several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his books include Firstborn of Venice: Vicenza in the Early Renaissance State and Provincial Families in the Renaissance: Private and Public Life in the Veneto. The latter book won the 1997 American Historical Association's Marraro prize for the best book in Italian history.

The Lipitz professorship was established by Roger C. Lipitz and his family to “provide funds to recognize and support innovative and distinguished teaching and/or research.”  The professorship comes with about $15,000 in funds.

Grubb plans to divide his stipend into two parts. About two-thirds of the funding will be used to provide scholarships for graduate students in the M.A. in Historical Studies program. “There’s lots of scholarship money for undergrads and almost none for M.A. students,” he said. “We have a lot of students who are mature, they’re out working, they’ve got families, and if we can provide the tuition, it will allow them to go through much faster.”

The rest of the funding will be put towards a research trip that he plans to take early next summer. Grubb will travel to several European cities to view original sources as part of research for a book about the social history of Venice. “I’m totally dependent upon archival sources, and there are manuscripts are scattered all over the world,” he said.

Grubb’s book focuses on how such a small city became so influential. “Venice is about the size of the UMBC campus, and yet was the most powerful economic engine of its time,” he said.

Grubb was chosen for the professorship by a six-person committee of tenured faculty in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. To apply for the fellowship, he submitted a proposal for how he would use the funds.

At the end of the academic year, he will deliver the annual Lipitz lecture, for which he will draw from the research he completes during his professorship.

Grubb has been a professor at UMBC since 1983, and was named the Presidential Research Professor for 2004-2007. He said that he has seen the history department develop, and believes that the award is as much a recognition as the work done in the department than by him alone.

Past Lipitz professors include Thomas Field, professor of modern languages, linguistics, and intercultural communication; John Sturgeon, professor of visual arts; and Carlo DiClemente, professor of psychology.