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Frank Wcislo

Professor of History and Russian Studies, Emeritus

Frank Wcislo is a historian of modern Russia, Eurasia, and Europe. He came to Vanderbilt in 1984 from Columbia University and has taught as Visiting Professor in the School of History, University of Leeds (1994-95). His research encompasses the politics, society, economy, and culture of the prerevolutionary Russian Empire. He is the author of Reforming Rural Russia: State, Local Society, and National Politics, 1855-1914 (Princeton, 1990), a study of imperial political culture and bureaucratic attempts to transform it during the last half century of tsarist rule, and the implications of these efforts for the multiple crises that weakened the old regime before 1917. He was a collaborator and member of the editorial board in the publication project of the St. Petersburg Institute of History [Russian Academy of Sciences] and The Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture [Columbia University], Iz arkhiva S. Iu. Vitte. Vospominaniia. [From the Archive of S. Iu. Witte. Memoirs], 3 vols. [St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Bulanin, 2003]. His Tales of Imperial Russia: The Life and Times of Sergei Witte, 1849-1915  (Oxford University Press, 2011), is a history and biography that reconsiders these same last decades from the perspective of Russian elite identity, culture, and experience in the Victorian Age of Empire. His current book project, "The Death of Autocracy, 1914-1920. A Study of Organizational Failure," is a collection of chapters that examines, from the perspective of organizational and managerial theory, the political elites of the Russian Empire and the behaviors during the era of World War I that led to that polity’s loss of legitimacy, authority, and power. Wcislo’s research has been supported by the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Kennan Institute (Smithsonian), Vanderbilt University and its Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, and The Harriman Institute of Columbia University.

Wcislo is a prize-winning undergraduate teacher and adviser. He is a recipient of the Jeffrey Nordhaus Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Arts and Science (1993), the Alumni Education Award of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association (1998), The Madison Sarratt University Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (2003), and the Alumni Freshman Adviser Award of the College of Arts and Science (2006). He has taught and team-taught a range of courses to undergraduates, graduate students, and continuing adult education: the introductory Columbia University Contemporary Civilization core curriculum; survey lecture courses on medieval and early modern Russia, pre-revolutionary imperial Russia, soviet and post-soviet history, European civilization since 1700, comparative communisms in Russia and China, and concepts of liberty; seminars on the end of the Soviet empire, the Russian revolution, late imperial Russian intellectual history, agrarian Russia from serfdom to collectivization, gender in modern Russian history and literature (seminar), and historical methods and research. He established and has frequently served as the Director of the Honors Program in History.

Since July 2006, Wcislo also has served as the inaugural Dean of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, Vanderbilt’s residential college and living-learning community for all first year students. The Commons, which combines ten residential Faculty Heads of House, non-residential faculty participants, student affairs professionals, undergraduate peer mentors, and 1600 first year undergraduates, is a signature experience for Vanderbilt undergraduates from all four colleges and schools of the university (Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Engineering, and Peabody College of Education and Human Development). He lives with his family on The Commons campus in the Dean’s Residence. He invites faculty, professional colleagues, graduate students, and undergraduates to come to The Ingram Commons and participate in Vanderbilt University’s ongoing creation of a residential undergraduate education for the 21st century.