November 21, 2017  

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Stur Awarded Blount Professorship in Military History

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USM Associate Professor of History Dr. Heather Marie Stur is the latest recipieint of the university's Gen. Buford "Buff" Blount Professorship in Military History.

An internationally recognized expert on the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy is the latest recipient of The University of Southern Mississippi’s prestigious General Buford “Buff’ Blount Professorship in Military History.

Dr. Heather Marie Stur, who joined the Southern Miss Department of History in 2008, is the third USM faculty member to earn the professorship, which is awarded biannually and funds research toward publication of a major study in the field of War and Society. At the end of their two-year term, the holder of the Blount Professorship presents a lecture or program based on findings of their research.

A 1971 USM alumnus, Blount enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. military, earning the rank of major general before retiring in 2005. The Bassfield, Miss. native lead the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division into Baghdad in 2003, toppling the regime of Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein in the second Gulf War.

Stur is a fellow in USM’s Dale Center for the Study of War and Society. Her research expertise includes gender and war, U.S. foreign relations and post-1945 America. She is author of the book Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era, among many other books and articles. In 2012, Dr. Stur was chosen for a Fulbright scholar award to study and teach in Vietnam at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City. She is also a previous recipient of the Nina Bell Suggs Professorship and the College of Arts and Letters Junior Faculty Research Award.

“The Department of History and its Dale Center are extremely proud Dr. Stur has been named the third General Buford “Buff” Blount Professor of Military History, and we’re extremely grateful to General and Mrs. Blount and all supporters who make this professorship possible,” said Dr. Kyle Zelner, chair of the department and co-director of the Dale Center. “Her scholarship on the Vietnam War - especially its cultural aspects, its relationship to world politics, and the questions it raises about gender and race - is one of the reasons Southern Miss is one of the top places in the nation to study that conflict.”

Dr. Stur said the Blount Professorship will allow her to complete a book, Saigon at War: South Vietnam and the Global Sixties, which is based in part on research she conducted in Vietnam during her Fulbright year, and make major progress on another book, Reflecting America: U.S. Military Expansion and Global Interventions. It will also provide support for her to hire one of her graduate students to serve as a research assistant.

"I'm honored to have received the prestigious Blount professorship, and grateful to the generous supporters of the Dale Center who have contributed to the fund," said Dr. Stur. “My work on these two publications would have taken much longer were it not for the research support the Blount Professorship provides."

The Vietnam War is always a popular topic, Dr. Stur said, but noted that the recent Ken Burns PBS documentary on the conflict has placed the war squarely in the public conversation, making her new book timely. She hopes her work will further solidify the reputation of the USM History Department as the place to study the Vietnam War, especially from South Vietnamese perspectives.

“I'm building on the foundation my colleague Dr. Andrew Wiest developed with his award-winning book, Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN, which was one of the first books to deal in depth with the South Vietnamese military,” Dr. Stur said. “I can't think of another history department boasting two professors who both have research expertise in South Vietnamese experiences in the war, and there is a growing scholarly interest in that side of the story.

“Any prospective graduate student who wants to study the Vietnam War will think seriously about coming to Southern Miss.”

Gen. Blount praised Dr. Stur’s research and teaching, as well as Southern Miss’s commitment to the study of military history.

“With this professorship and the Dale Center, we are enabling the USM Department of History to recruit not only outstanding professors like Dr. Stur, but also top-notch students as we continue to move Southern Miss to the top,” Gen Blount said.

For information about the Southern Miss Department of History, visit www.usm.edu/history; for information about the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, visit http://www.usm.edu/history/war-society.