Category Archives: Denny O’Toole Scholarship

Class of 2015, and a visit with Denny O’Toole

Developing History Leaders @SHA gets underway at the end of this week. The Class of 2015 will gather in Indianapolis to begin three weeks of learning and dialogue about the many ways we bring history to communities across the country. A distinguishing characteristic of this year’s class is its geographic spread, with greater representation from the West than is usually the case. This class includes students from Texas, California, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and the Yukon Territory in Canada.

While in Santa Fe last week visiting our son, Anita and I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Denny and Trudy O’Toole. For those who don’t know, Denny was the coordinator of SHA prior to my taking the position in 2010. The O’Toole scholarship is named in his honor. Denny was a leader in our field for decades, and inspired and influenced many who now lead and work in history organizations. It has been an honor for me to follow in his footsteps.

Denny was eager to hear about the 2015 class. We talked about what has changed, and what has not, since he passed the baton. Some faculty continue to serve – Conny Graft on evaluation, Barbara Franco and Laura Roberts on organizational change, Kent Whitworth on team building – and we continue to engage with many of the same local organizations – the Indiana Medical History Museum, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, and Conner Prairie, where we will again participate in “Follow the North Star.” John Herbst and the amazing staff at the Indiana Historical Society continue to host the seminar and provide invaluable support.

Of course, much has changed. Every year there are a few new topics in response to student suggestions and emerging new practices. This year, building on changes made over the past two or three years, we will place emphasis on historical interpretation of contested history. David Young from Cliveden of the National Trust will frame the issues by addressing the role of public history in communities today; Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko from the Abby Museum will present her approach to decolonization in working with the native peoples of Maine; and Sarah Pharaon from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience will engage the students in methods of dialogue when addressing difficult topics.

We will also continue to tackle the basic challenges of leadership of history organizations: building financially sustainable organizations, stewarding collections, engaging communities, and leading change. Also, a number of the faculty have been involved in the History Relevance Campaign, so we’ll have frequent discussions about the value of history in contemporary life.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this year’s class thinks and has to say about public history and the work we do to bring history to people in our communities. See you in Indy!

We Have A Fundraising Winner!

The fundraising results are in and we have a new champion in this year’s class fundraising competition. The congratulatory trophy will be awarded to…

The Class of 2012 who raised $1,380 for the Denny O’Toole Scholarship fund! The Class of 2012 will be presented with a trophy at the SHA Reception at the AASLH Annual Meeting (appropriately themed “Greater than the Sum of Our Parts”) in St. Paul, MN. Congratulations!

SHA Class of 2012

Last year’s winner, the Class of 2011, finished second with $1,141.11.

This year’s competition raised a total of $4,383.11 surpassing the $4,000 goal of the SHA Alumni Committee!

Thank you to everyone who donated. Your support of this program speaks volumes of your dedication to the field. And if you didn’t donate – the link to do so is always available. Click here to make a donation.

SHA 2012 Prohibition Photos

Again, congratulations to the Class of 2012 – you are truly SHAmazing!

What’s Greater Than the Sum of Our [DHL@SHA] Classes??

The Developing History Leaders @ SHA experience, of course!! And in order to help make the experience available to history professionals who need additional support, the Denny O’Toole Scholarship was started by the SHA Alumni Committee a few years ago.  To date, this scholarship has sent 3 folks to DHL@SHA who might not have been able to attend otherwise. A $3,000 value, this scholarship and experience WILL make a huge difference in the recipient’s career.  

This year, to make the fundraising more interesting, a friendly class competition was started and our esteemed chair, Jamie Glavic, just sent out the latest standings with a surprising twist!

1996: $100                                                           2009: $295

2004: $230                                                           2010: $270

2006: $20                                                             2011: $410

2007: $200                                                           2012: $675

2008: $150                                                           2013: $180

The New Top Three

  1. 2012
  2. 2011
  3. 2009

The Class of 2012 is killing it! And 2009 just passed class of 2010 on the leader board.

If you’re an alum of the program, where does your class stand? Do you need to light a fire under your class to support the program that brought you together and helped you create your own unique network? Make a donation for this program and support your class! The class competition ends July 15, 2014, with a trophy for the winning class to be given away at the AASLH Annual Meeting (appropriately themed “Greater than the Sum of Our Parts”) in St. Paul, MN, so get your donation in. Click here to donate and select the SHA Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your continued support!

If you’re considering attending DHL@SHA, this is an example of the program alumni’s dedication in that, for many years later, these folks still feel so strongly about the DHL@SHA experience that they’re supporting this wonderful scholarship…If you want to see how this all ends up and learn more about the program, watch this blog, email Bob Beatty at or join us at the DHL@SHA reception in St. Paul.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Ante Up Alumni

I’ll keep this short—I know you are busy. If you are reading this, you are considering applying for Developing History Leaders @ SHA (previously known as the Seminar for Historical Administration), or you’re a graduate of this esteemed program.

If you are a graduate, you fully understand and are deeply appreciative of the positive influence that SHA has had (and continues to have) on your career. You know that the knowledge and wisdom that you gained in SHA, along with the network of co-conspirators that you developed through the program, have been absolutely invaluable to your success in your field.

However, for potential applicants, SHA is actually not invaluable—in fact, it has a very fixed value—about $3,000. And, unfortunately, for too many potential applicants that cost is simply beyond reach—a bridge too far.

Although I know they would love to do it, the leaders of Developing History Leaders @ SHA can’t ignore or underwrite the cost—there are very real costs to running this program and the bills must be paid.

However, those leaders have developed a scholarship program to underwrite the tuition of at least one talented applicant – the Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund.

Now, it’s time for the graduates, who have reaped invaluable benefits (and probably more than one pay raise) to ante up and kick in to support the SHA scholarship program. Give back to a program that has given you so much—the least we can do is to underwrite at least one person’s $3,000 tuition.

Click here to donate and select the SHA Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund.

Mark Sundlov (SHA ’11), Ohio Historical Society

Investing in the Future of the Field

Melissa Prycer

2013 Denny O’Toole Scholarship recipient, Melissa Prycer

Around four months ago, I packed up my car and headed north to Indianapolis. Many of my friends scoffed: “What on earth will you be doing in Indianapolis for three weeks?” Quite honestly, I wasn’t truly able to explain—professional development seminar sounds so boring! And about history museums? No wonder my friends were confused.

Now that I’m back home in Dallas, I can’t stop talking about my experience at SHA, the friends I made and the lessons I learned. I’ve given little talks about SHA to the board, staff—and scoffing friends. I’ve used SHA-proven exercises during strategic planning sessions, discussed some articles with staff, and had them do the work-style quiz. In other words, the giant SHA notebook comes off the shelf about once a week.

Though I’m confident that deciding to apply to SHA was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, it wasn’t without risks and sacrifices. Putting your life on hold for three weeks is hard. And when the annual professional development budget for a department is half what SHA costs, the expense itself can be risky for an institution with a tight budget. Winning the Denny O’Toole Scholarship removed my financial risk in attending SHA. I’m very conscious of the investment AASLH and the other partners put into me and my institution through this gift. And I’m more than ready to give back!

Think of giving to the Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund as a way of saying thank you—for all the conversations, meals, beverages, jokes, and moments of inspiration. You’re not just providing an opportunity for someone to have the SHA experience—you’re investing in the future of the field.

Click here to download the donation form. Should you wish to donate online, click here and select SHA Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund.

Thank you for your support—and I hope to see you in the Twin Cities this fall!

Melissa Prycer
President & Executive Director
Dallas Heritage Village

PS: Act soon, contribute to a colleague’s life-changing experience through the Denny O’Toole Scholarship!

Alumni: It’s Fundraising Season

Not only is it application season for Developing History Leaders @SHA (application materials are due on Monday, May 19) – it’s also fundraising season.

The 54th Class of Developing History Leaders @SHA will commence in Indianapolis on November 1, 2014. We all know that the value of the experience far exceeds its cost, but the reality is that there are indeed real costs required to not only make SHA happen, but to insure that it continues to be the most valuable professional development opportunity out there for leaders in history organizations.

Your support is needed to continue to make scholarship opportunities available to professionals who may not otherwise be able to participate in SHA. Today, I’m asking you to donate to the Denny O’Toole Scholarship for the Class of 2014. This is an opportunity to give back to a program that, I suspect, has opened doors in your career, challenged you to better yourself professionally, and has changed the way leaders in our field (yes, I’m talking about you) think about the future and how to make it brighter. By contributing to this scholarship, you will be helping a future leader reach not only their dreams, but also their potential!

Class of 2011

Class of 2011

In the spirit of friendly competition, and following the enthusiasm of last year’s fundraising campaign, the SHA Alumni Committee would like to continue the Alumni Class Fundraising Competition. The Class of 2011, the smallest SHA class in recent history, won last year’s fundraising competition. What did they get? Bragging rights mostly (if you know that group – which I do well, since I am a member – that suits them just fine). They were also recognized at the SHA reception at the AASLH Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

This year the stakes are a bit higher – there’s a trophy on the line – which won’t be revealed until this year’s AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota. And, really, who doesn’t like a trophy?

Donations have already started coming in, thanks to the impromptu donation drive at last year’s SHA Reception.  The leader board currently stands as follows:

1st Place: Class of 2012
Donations: $420

2nd Place: Class of 2010
Donations: $220

3rd Place: Class of 2011
Donations: $100

The time to donate is now. Share this post with your SHA classmates, support the program that brought you together and created your unique network, and help make the SHA experience available to a history professional who needs it. Thank you for considering supporting a scholarship for the Class of 2014. I’ve donated – have you?

Click here to donate online and select the SHA Denny O’Toole Scholarship Fund.

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