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New leadership announced for Shepherd University Appalachian program

ISSUED: 10 May 2024

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities is under new leadership. Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, associate professor of history, is heading the program after Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt’s retirement.

Bankhurst is excited to take over the program’s leadership and to further support and develop its robust course offerings, community programming, and service projects.

Headshot of Ben Bankhurst“Given its location in the Shenandoah Valley and within the greater Washington D.C. metro area, Shepherd serves as a gateway to Appalachia, making it the ideal location to showcase the region to those who might not be familiar with its rich history and culture,” Bankhurst said.

“Equally, Shepherd’s location allows our students access to cultural and economic opportunities of the National Capitol Region,” he added. “I look forward to building course opportunities and partnerships with organizations on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains for the benefit of our students.”

Bankhurst earned his B.A. from the University of New Mexico and both his M.A. and Ph.D. from King’s College, University of London. His research focuses on the frontier migration of Appalachians in the colonial and revolutionary periods. His articles have appeared in the Pennsylvania Magazine for History and Biography, Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, and Eire/Ireland.

The American Council for Irish Studies awarded Bankhurst’s first book “Ulster Presbyterians and the Scots Irish Diaspora, 1750-1763” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) the Donald Murphy Prize.

Bankhurst has coedited a collection of essays titled “Negotiating Toleration: Dissent and the Hanoverian Succession, 1714-1769” (Oxford University Press, 2019). Likewise, he is co-director of the Maryland Loyalism Project, a public archive and database documenting the experiences of Chesapeake Loyalists in the era of the American Revolution.

At Shepherd, Bankhurst has been involved in leadership roles with the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, serving on the board that governs the program.

For information about the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, visit the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities webpage.

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