Director of the MU Honors College

Director of the MU Honors College

Dennis B. Downey, Ph.D.

I earned my PhD in United States History from Marquette University in 1981. Since that time I have taught at Millersville University, where I am now Professor of History and Director of the University Honors College. My research and teaching specialties cover the history of American violence and American social and cultural history, especially 1870-1920. By temperament and training I am interested in the intersection of social thought, violence, and identity through historical memory. I have a developing scholarly interest in the history of disabilities and social thought. I am the author or editor of five books of history including No Crooked Death (1991), A Season of Renewal (2002), and We Sing to Thee (2004). I have published more than three dozen scholarly articles and essays. I have received several awards for my writing, including the Philip S. Klein Prize and an Outstanding Book Citation from the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights. In December 2008 my book-length social history of Pennsylvania education, entitled "The Surest Foundation of Happiness", will be published by the website This e-book includes 400 pages of text and more than 150 illustrations. I am just beginning a book-length study of immigration entitled “The Peopling of Pennsylvania.” I have had a role in a variety of professional and community organizations. In 2005-6, I served as President of the Pennsylvania Historical Association.

Contact Information:
Dennis B. Downey, PhD
History Department
University Honors College
Millersville University
Millersville, PA 17551

Office: Franklin House
Tel: (717) 871-7553 or 871-7187

Past Directors

Dr. John B. Osborne
A member of the faculty since 1970, he served the history department for over 33 years. In addition to English history, which was his main focus, he taught several other courses at the undergraduate level, including Western Intellectual Tradition (WIT) for honors. Dr. Osborne established the Honors Program serving as Director for 19 years. Dr. Osborne retired from Millersville University in June 2003.

Dr. Steven M. Miller
A member of the faculty since 1985, Dr. Miller serves the English department. Dr. Miller teaches several literature courses including Western Intellectual Tradition (WIT), Early English Literature, Folklore, and Poetry. Dr. Miller served as Director of the Honors College from Fall 1999 through Spring 2006 and was instrumental in the process of getting the Honors Program changed to the Honors College.

In the summer of 2003 Dr. Miller began the reading project for incoming Honors freshmen. Each freshman received a book during Orientation that was written by an author who was scheduled to visit the campus during the academic year. During the first week of classes, the students met for a one-time discussion group with a faculty member or administrator who volunteered to read the book and lead the discussion. Upper level Honors students were also involved in the project and many have returned each year since to help with the reading project.