Two professors in the history department, Catherine Allgor and Michele Salzman, have been appointed University of California Presidential Chairs.
The presidential chairs on each UC campus are supported through an endowment established in 1981 by the UC Regents.

The positions are given to distinguished faculty members and are intended to enrich the academic life of the university.

Allgor’s research has recently focused on the role of women in early American history. She is the author of “Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington City Help Build a City and a Government” and a biography of Dolley Madison, “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation.”

Her research project will be on coverture in the early United States. Coverture was the legal device by which women were given no legal identity upon entrance into the new nation, and it has never been abolished.

She hopes her work will lead to the passing of an equal rights amendment.

“A presidential chair should do something special for both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Allgor. “During my tenure as chair, I will teach a special graduate course and hope to inaugurate a large undergraduate lecture course that will inspire our students.”

Professor Salzman studies social and religious change in the later Roman Empire, with a special focus on the spread of Christianity among Rome’s elite in the fourth and fifth centuries.

She has two book length projects near completion, and will utilize the resources of the chair to complete them in the fall of 2009 and to continue research on her new study, “The Falls of Rome: Religious and Social Responses to Catastrophe, 275-503 CE.”

Since she is also the director of the Tri-Campus Program in Classics (between UCR, UCI and UCSD), students on all three campuses will benefit, she said.

“I am honored to have been offered a University of California Presidential Chair,” Salzman said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to pursue my research and in this way to bring greater recognition to UCR.”