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WVU historian elected president of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America

Robert Blobaum, the Eberly Professor of History at West Virginia University, was elected the first non-Polish president of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America for 2018-2021.

Robert Blobaum Headshot
Robert Blobaum

I’m looking forward to working with people and rejuvenating the organization,” Blobaum said. “It has a membership which is a bit advanced in age. We need to recruit new members, and we want to strive for more diversity in that membership.”

His duties will include assisting in the organization of the annual PIASA conference in Poland, staffing committees and presiding over quarterly meetings in New York.

Blobaum was nominated for the position and elected by the general membership. His term began on June 10 and will last for three years.

I think that this position will help in recruiting for WVU’s Transatlantic Master of Arts Program and establish more relationships in Poland to help recruit students to come to study at WVU,” Blobaum said. 

In an attempt to keep Polish academic institutions alive during the Nazi occupation of the Second World War, PIASA was formed in 1942.

The first president of the institute, Bronislaw Malinowski is considered the founder of the anthropology discipline. Today the organization has over 1,000 members and has included three Nobel Prize winners.

“This organization really does have a storied history, and I think it is important to keep it going forward into the next generation,” Blobaum said.

Blobaum was also the first historian to publish an English language text of the history of Warsaw during the First World War.

“The Institute will benefit from (Blobaum’s) expertise and leadership,” said Kate Staples, associate chair of the Department of History. “This is an exciting opportunity both for him and for WVU.