Assistant Professor of History Dr. Robert Turpin awarded the Appalachian College Association faculty fellowship

Assistant Professor of History Dr. Robert Turpin was awarded the Appalachian College Association (ACA) faculty fellowship for the 2020–21 academic year to assist in the research and writing of his next book.

Turpin, who teaches courses in both social and cultural history, is the first faculty member at Lees-McRae to receive the prestigious fellowship.

The full-year sabbatical will provide Turpin time to write his second book as well as cover the cost of travel and any conferences related to his research. Turpin’s first book, First Taste of Freedom: A Cultural History of Bicycle Marketing in the United States, published in 2018, chronicles the bicycle's rise and fall in popularity from as far back as the 1830s, and how it sheds light on American consumer patterns over time.

His next book will also focus on the history and people surrounding cycling, specifically, one of the first international sports stars, Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor.

“First becoming a world champion cyclist in 1899, Taylor competed extensively despite his race, segregation, and violence during the time,” Turpin said. “This book project will go beyond Taylor … by unearthing the stories of several black cyclists. Some contemporaries of Taylor … echo Taylor’s [story] in ways that inform our understanding of the outright racism they faced…”

Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Todd Lidh celebrated Turpin’s accomplishment given its precedent at the college, and for being awarded the fellowship in a particularly competitive applicant pool.

I’m very proud of his accomplishment,” Lidh began. “What Turpin is currently doing—advancing the knowledge of history—is an inspiration to his students and colleagues, and he shows that you can be a passionate teacher as well as a distinguished scholar at the same time. We are so fortunate to have Robert as part of the Lees-McRae family!”

The Appalachian College Association is a non-profit consortium of 35 private, four-year liberal arts institutions located in the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, according to the ACA website.

This year, the ACA awarded 14 faculty across the five states with funds to complete research, writing, and other projects.

“The mission of the association is to serve Appalachian communities through the transformational work of its faculty, staff, and students,” the website continued. “Programs offered by the Association are designed to promote cooperation and collaboration among member institutions, and to support scholarly and creative activities of faculty and students.”

By Nina MastandreaApril 23, 2020