Penn State laureate to speak on 'Why Study War?'

Dr. Carol Reardon, Penn State University's laureate and a military historian, will speak at Penn State Hazleton on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Her lecture, "Why Study War?," is free and open to the public. It will be held in 115 Evelyn Graham Academic Building at noon.

The Penn State laureate, an honorary position established in 2008, is a full-time faculty member in the humanities or the arts who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences.

Reardon is the George Winfree Professor of American History in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University Park campus and a military historian who specializes in the study of the American Civil War and the Vietnam conflict. She is the author of several publications, including the award-winning book "Pickett's Charge in History and Memory." In this work, she used the famous Confederate assault at Gettysburg to explore the ways in which the power of memory can shape and, over time, even reshape perceptions of important events.

"Carol Reardon's scholarship and teaching on military history, Civil War strategy, and leadership have helped shape our nation's understanding of military conflicts," said Penn State President Eric Barron. "She is an engaging speaker with great stories about Gettysburg, Vietnam and other wars; she is sure to make a lasting impact on our community during her laureate year."  

During her visit to Penn State Hazleton, she will meet with a newly formed organization of student veterans at Penn State Hazleton, discussing their interests, needs and priorities. She will also speak with two American History classes taught by Dr. Justin Nordstrom.

Reardon is a faculty associate of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center. Her publications include "Launch the Intruders: A Naval Attack Squadron in the Vietnam War, 1972," a required reading at the Air Command and Staff College; "With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other" about military theory in the Civil War North; and the award-winning "A Field Guide to Gettysburg," with retired U.S. Army Colonel Tom Vossler.

A highly sought-after speaker, Reardon regularly addresses public historical interest groups including the Gettysburg Foundation, the Seminary Ridge Museum at Gettysburg, the Pennsylvania Military Museum at Boalsburg and the Smithsonian Institute. Her talks have been broadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Network and on C-SPAN. She has contributed to a number of historical documentaries on topics as diverse as the history of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Civil War generalship and battle commemorations.

Reardon served as a visiting professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served two terms as the General Harold K. Johnson Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army War College. For nearly 14 years, she served on the board of visitors of Marine Corps University, including a term as board chair, and received the Department of the Navy Superior Public Service Award for her contributions to that institution. She also became the first woman to be elected to serve as president of the Society for Military History, the most noted international scholarly organization in the field.

Among her many honors, Reardon received the Victor Gondos Memorial Service award from the Society for Military History for contributions to the Society's efforts to advance the study of military history.  In 2007, she received the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest award given for teaching at Penn State.

Reardon is using her year as university laureate to encourage informed reflection and open dialogue on war, peace and remembrance.

"As a military historian, I am interested in the causes, conduct, cost and consequences of wars as well as the lessons we learn or — just as important — fail to learn from these transformational events," she says.

Reardon takes a very serious interest in leadership and decision-making in such high-risk and high-stakes moments, and she has applied her knowledge extensively in what she readily admits is her "favorite classroom" — Gettysburg. Each year, she leads leadership "staff rides" there for ROTC and West Point cadets, international officers, and even senior Pentagon officials, to analyze and critique the command decisions of Generals Robert E. Lee and George G. Meade and then to consider how modern commanders — and their political superiors and those on the home front — might respond to similar challenges today. She also developed specially tailored versions of these programs for leaders of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and law enforcement groups; for journalists; for educators in history, literature, art history and other academic disciplines; for agriculture and forestry specialists, and more.

To learn more about the Penn State laureate program, visit