Department of History

Tony Novosel wins Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award

Novosel is being honored for “the important impact that you have had on communities and students in Northern Ireland and on the ongoing peace process,” the chancellor’s letter states. “Through oral histories, presentations, writing, panel discussion, friendships and mentorships you have had a powerful positive impact on political factions, communities and students.”

Since 1996, Novosel has assisted and counseled nearly 2,000 young people from Northern Ireland, who have visited the United States as part of the Business Education Initiative (now called Study USA) and returned to help shape the future of Northern Ireland.

Students here at the University have benefited from Novosel’s deep knowledge of Northern Ireland culture and political landscape, for instance interviewing key political leaders and ex-combatants via skype in the course of Novosel's hugely popular course on modern Irish history.

“Your passionate engagement in Northern Ireland led you to activities which have helped heal factional divides,” the Chancellor's letter of commendaiton continues. “Over the past 40 years you developed friendships across the political spectrum and listened carefully to the stories of combatants and past and present leaders in that divided country. One of your Northern Ireland colleagues described you recently as ‘One of the best informed academics understanding the causes of conflict in Ireland and the recent period referred to as the Troubles.’ Your research on the ‘Troubles’ and especially your study of Loyalism and Loyalists gave you valuable insights that you have shared with Loyalist and Republican communities in many forums. In doing this, you have helped overcome negative stereotypes by using your knowledge to help others understand the complex history of Northern Ireland factionalism.”

One result, noted in Novosel’s award, was his 2013 book, “Northern Ireland’s Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism.”  Novosel also created community forums with the aim of healing Loyalist and Republican divisions and encouraging their journey toward peace.