Dr. Gordon B. McKinney, former director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College, has been selected winner of the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award by the Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA). The award recognizes significant contributions of individuals and organizations in preserving and promoting the history of the mountain region.
The award will be presented to McKinney Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, during a public reception at 2 p.m. in the Reuter Center on the campus of the UNC-Asheville.
McKinney was nominated for the award by Dr. Catherine Frank of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC-Asheville who remarked that McKinney “…has educated generations of students who have benefited from his clear and thorough approach to his subject,” and “expanded the reach of Appalachian studies beyond the academic setting.”
Frank emphasized a spirit of inclusiveness throughout McKinney’s career, and especially during his past service as president of the Appalachian Studies Association noting that “Dr. McKinney advocated for including a diverse membership that embraced people of different racial, ethnic, gender and age groups, (and) also included health professionals, natural scientists, and environmentalists in the conversation.”
Dr. McKinney received his Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University in 1971 and went on to teach Appalachian and American History at Valdosta State University, Western Carolina University, the University of Maryland, and Berea College in Kentucky.
Before his retirement to Asheville in 2009, he established himself as an effective teacher, mentor of young faculty, administrator, and public servant. He served as Executive Director of the National History Day and Administrator of the Research Division of the National Endowment of the Humanities.
At Berea he expanded the Appalachian Studies program by involving his students in community projects in the Kentucky Mountains. He has published articles and books on a wide range of topics but is perhaps best known for his definitive study of North Carolina’s Civil War governor, Zebulon B. Vance.
Dr. McKinney is currently serving as a member of the Board and of the Program Committee at WNCHA. He is a popular teacher at OLLI and an active contributor to its Appalachian Studies Program.