Dierenfield Receives Distinguished Faculty Award

BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius College Alumni Association will present Bruce J. Dierenfield, PhD, with its 2013 Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award during spring honors convocation at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17 in the Montante Cultural Center. The prestigious award is presented annually, and recognizes one faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world.

A professor of history at Canisius College, Dierenfield is renowned among students for his rich academic knowledge on U.S. history. He specializes in 20th century America and the Civil Rights Movement, but maintains a mastery of the approximate 45 courses he designed and taught throughout his distinguished career as an educator.  Dierenfield's ability to effectively communicate such expansive subject matter without sacrificing all its complexities and nuances make him a favorite among undergraduate students.    

For several years, Dierenfield served as a Peter Canisius Distinguished Teaching Professor, during which time he established and coordinated the college’s Program in the African American Experience. The program examined the contributions of African Americans through coursework, a lecture series, on-site field trips and cultural encounters tied to African American history.

Dierenfield is also the dynamic director of the All-College Honors Program, which offers extraordinary educational experiences to a select group of students who excelled academically in high school and in college entrance exams. Under Dierenfield’s leadership, the All-College Honors Program reached new levels excellence, introducing students to educational and cultural experiences via scholarly travel across the country.

Dierenfield is the author of four books including A History of African American Leadership, Keeper of the Rules: Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia, The Civil Rights Movement and The Battle Over School Prayer: How Engel v. Vitale Changed America, which received the Langum Prize in American Legal History and an Alpha Sigma Nu book prize for professional studies. He co-authored a fifth book, The Federal Role and Activities in Energy Research and Development, 1946-1980: An Historical Summary

Dierenfield also lent his expertise on school prayer to PBS in 2010 for its documentary “The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today.” The documentary tells the personal story behind McCollum vs. the Board of Education, a landmark first amendment case that set the foundation for the separation of church and state in public schools. It received a Peabody Award for excellence in presenting the controversy about public school prayer.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf College, Dierenfield holds a PhD in American history from the University of Virginia. He came to Canisius in 1986 but has also taught at the University of Helsinki (Finland), at Nanjing University (China), and, as a senior Fulbright scholar, at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn (Germany).

Dierenfield is a member of DiGamma Honor Society. The prestigious society is comprised of students, faculty and alumni who distinguish themselves in their work to advance thecollege and who provide exemplary service on behalf of students and alumni. Dierenfield is also a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society.

One of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier, private university in Western New York.