YSU Bestows Darling Faculty Chair on Pallante

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Professor Martha I. Pallante has been named the first Charles Darling Endowed Faculty Chair in American Social History at Youngstown State University.

The longtime chair of YSU’s history department, Pallante is a professor of early American history, an author and a leading expert on Mahoning Valley history.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious appointment and to carry on the legacy of Professor Darling and the department of history in which he served,” she said.

In her new position as the Darling faculty chair, she will continue to teach three courses, and also implement new programs for American social history. The chair requires a focus on social history, which Pallante described as “what the past looked like from the bottom up.” It focuses on the life of the underclass, those not in power or making headlines.

Pallante outlined her threefold plan going forward. It will involve:

  • Research into race, ethnicity, class and gender, and the immigrant communities of the Mahoning Valley.
  • The implementation of a speaker series that will give a historical perspective on contemporary issues, such as pandemics, social justice and immigration.
  • Pedagogical concerns for teaching history and social sciences, including hands-on learning and remote instruction.

At a bestowment ceremony Friday at YSU, Charles Howell, dean of YSU’s College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education; and George Beelen, faculty emeriti of history and former chair of the history department, conferred the honor on Pallante.

The Charles Darling chair is named in honor of the former YSU history professor and longtime popular radio host of a folk music show on WYSU-FM.

Darling, who died in 2018 at age 86, left a gift of $2.2 million to establish the endowed faculty chair. Darling’s gift allows for the creation and continued funding of the position.

“Endowed professorships like this raise the academic reputation of the university and give students the opportunity to work side by side with top researchers,” Howell said.

YSU now has 12 endowed faculty positions. “A few years ago we had three,” pointed out YSU President Jim Tressel.

Pallante began her remarks by calling for a moment of silence in honor of the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, including Terry Lynch, who held a master’s degree in history from YSU.

Her own history at the university goes back several decades.

“I first set foot on the YSU campus 47 years ago,” Pallante said, a physical education major whose goal was to teach dance and gymnastics. She changed her major three times before settling on history.

“It gave me the same adrenaline rush as gymnastics,” she said.

Pallante said she shares the passion for the advanced study of history that Darling had.

Darling, a native of Massachusetts and a 1953 graduate of Youngstown College, served in the Army as a medical technician and later earned a master’s degree in history from Ohio University.

He returned to Youngstown in 1958 to join the college history faculty, retiring in 1995. His folk music program on WYSU celebrated its 48th season in 2018.

Brien N. Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at YSU, praised Darling for funding a faculty chair. 

“It’s relatively easy to find people who will give money for students to attend college, but difficult to find people to give money to attract top professors,” Smith said. “We need more of that.”

Pictured: YSU professor Martha Pallante was named the first Charles Darling Endowed Faulty Chair in the American Social History. (Image: Elaine Manusakis / Every Angle Photography)

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