Alumni Profiles     

Ronald  Miriani, Ph.D.
Torchlighter Award, 2003

The official titles for Ronald Miriani are Professor of History and History Department chairman.  However, his students have added many other titles, including  “favorite instructor” and “friend.”  The Alumni Association has chosen to add yet another title to his list, that of “The 2003 Torchlighter Award Recipient.”

The Torchlighter Award is given to honor those who have made a significant, long-standing contribution and commitment to Park, whether alumni, faculty or friend.  Members of the Alumni Association awards committee are not sure who first nominated Miriani for the Torchlighter Award.  They only know that the nomination was made emphatically and frequently. When they met this Spring they all agreed that Miriani was the obvious choice for this honor.

Miriani began teaching history at Park in 1964.  Except for an early period as a high school teacher, Miriani has devoted his entire career to teaching Park students. In 1999 his talents as an instructor were recognized by Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan when he was awarded the “Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.”  Miriani, who is respected and admired by his colleagues as well, has been described as an accomplished scholar with the remarkable ability to excite students.

His personal accomplishments include bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.  He has chosen the American frontier as his research specialty.  He has received two grants to further his work, the first in 1979 from Indiana University to study folklore and the second in 1986, as an Andrew W. Mellon Senior Fellow from the University of Kansas.  This second grant allowed Miriani to spend a semester doing  research.  The result was the publication of his first book in 2001, The Heroic Frontiersman: An Evolving American.   He discusses the changing public perception of the frontiersman, from Daniel Boone to modern day cowboys.  He is in the final phases of completing a second book.  The subject is a favorite of both Miriani and his students--the walking tours of historical Kansas City.

As the Mrs. George S. Park Chair of History, Miriani is responsible for curriculum and course development for Park’s history department.  Perhaps Miriani’s highly regarded teaching methods are so successful because his foremost goal is to instill in his students a connection and  love of history.  His students learn to appreciate the relationship between history and their own lives.  His techniques of integrating history with art, sciences ands related subjects have inspired his students to describe him as “an excellent teacher who makes history come alive.” 

He is a member of the American Culture Association, the Popular Culture Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Missouri and Kansas Folklore Societies. 

The Alumni Association honors Ronald Miriani, Professor of History, for the exemplary job he has done in educating our students and providing an example of outstanding teaching for all who come to know him.