UC Faculty Awards 2020: Willard Sunderland

College of Arts and Sciences awardee honored for creative and scholarly works

Professor Willard Sunderland is recognized with the 2020 George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works

Willard Sunderland is the Henry R. Winkler Professor of Modern History in the Department of History of the University of Cincinnati. He received his bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s and doctorate in history from Indiana University. Since joining UC in 1996, he has taught on the topics of Russia and the Soviet Union, modern Europe and world history and has served as department head and director of European Studies.

Portrait of Willard Sunderland

Willard Sunderland, professor of modern history. Photo: Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand

Sunderland is lauded by colleagues as an engaging and passionate educator and superb writer, having written and edited several books and scores of other publications on Russian history.

His principal research interests are the history of the Russian Empire in the modern period. Experts in Sunderland’s field note that his scholarship has enhanced the study of Russian history through the vast research and dedication that he invests in his projects, whether by traversing Eurasia in search of rare historical sources or learning Russian and, most recently, Chinese to fully explore the complexities of the cultures and regions he is studying.

His first book, “Taming the Wild Field: Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe,” is an important and elegant work that examines the Russian colonization of the vast frontier north of the Black and Caspian seas over many centuries. 

His second book, the prize-winning “The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution,” by contrast, focuses on the life of a single individual — the curious general Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, who for a brief moment during the Russian and Chinese revolutions took over Mongolia and envisioned rebuilding the long-lost empire of Genghis Khan.

Sunderland with a historical reenactor Muscovite-Era Infantryman, in Moscow's Red Square, Fall 2018

Sunderland with a historical reenactor (a Muscovite-Era Infantryman) in Moscow's Red Square, fall 2018. Photo/provided

With Students from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China, November 20, 2019.JPG

Sunderland with students from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China, 2019. Photo/provided

Sunderland’s current book in progress is again something new: a study of Russia during the momentous era of Peter the Great when the country first began to emerge as a power with global standing and ambitions.

Featured image at top: UC's College of Arts & Sciences/UC Creative + Brand

UC Faculty Awards

UC is saluting the 16 winners of our 2020 All-University Faculty Awards in a three-part series in UC News weekly through April 22. Beginning April 23, all winners will also be showcased on the Faculty Awards website.