Historians around the country recently elected a University of Wisconsin professor as president of the American Historical Association, UW officials announced Friday.

The largest organization for anyone who studies history, UW professor William Cronon said he will serve as president of the AHA for three years.

Cronon said he will serve as president-elect in 2011 before assuming his position as president in 2012.

Cronon, who teaches in UW history department, said he is the first environmental historian to be elected president.

The AHA has a variety of goals, which Cronon said he will help move forward during his time as president, something he already has experience with as vice-president of the organization.

“Some of the society’s activities include promoting good research, trying to make history useful, and looking after ethical standards,” Cronon said. “When I was vice president, I helped revise the Statement On Standards, which defines things like plagiarism.”

The new position will not impact Cronon’s work at UW he said, as he will still teach the same number of courses.

While the AHA is based in Washington, D.C., Cronon said he is only required to attend two large meetings each year, making the impact on his work at UW minimal.

Specializing in environmental history, Cronon’s selection speaks to the impact of his work in the field, said Gregg Mitman, the interim director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Apart from UW’s storied past regarding environmental science, Cronon said drawing attention to the history department in general is also one of his goals, reminding the department of how strong its history is.

Cronon also said he thinks his appointment will illuminate UW’s Center for Culture, History and Environment, which he is director of. The Center brings professors across campus together to study changes in the environment and human culture in history.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if my position calls attention to this organization, and to the fact that UW has one of the best history departments in the United States,” Cronon said.

Mitman said he is excited about Cronon’s election.

“It’s a remarkable honor and also I think really speaks to the recognition of the force behind this program and the strength of UW,” said Mitman.

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