Frank Coppa, Ph.D.

Professor of History

Faculty Member Receives Lifetime Achievement Award For Work on Catholic History

Frank Coppa, Ph.D, founding director of St. John’s doctoral program in Modern World History and a faculty member since 1965, will be officially honored by one of the nation’s leading Catholic scholarly organizations. A scholar whose impact on the study of modern Catholic history has long been recognized on campus, Dr. Coppa will receive  the American Catholic Historical Association’s first-ever Lifetime Distinguished Scholarship Award at the Association’s annual banquet in Boston on January 8, 2011.

Dr. Coppa will be recognized for his many “contributions, which have fundamentally animated the research of others, beside being significant in their own right,” said Rev. Steven Avella, ACHA President. Dr. Coppa retired from St. John’s in May 2010.

“He’s giant in his field,” said Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at St. John’s. Dr. Tuchscherer fondly recalled that Dr. Coppa was a mentor who “brought me along into the Doctor of Arts Program in history. In fact, the program’s very existence today, which is thriving, is part of his legacy.”  

Among his numerous accomplishments, Dr. Coppa was awarded a Fulbright as well as National Endowment for the Humanities’ grants. He has also written pioneering books on such controversial topics as the life of Pope Pius the 12th and the relationship between the Papacy and the Holocaust. In addition, he introduced a groundbreaking course on the role of the papacy in the modern world. “I am dedicated to clearing up misperceptions and making  20th and 21st Century Catholic history relevant and understandable,” he said.

Professor Coppa credits St. John’s supportive environment for enabling him to be so productive. In particular, he cites the University’s Catholic heritage and the library’s gift to him of the Holy See encyclicals. “St. John’s has been a good place for me to pursue my scholarly interests,” he said. In turn, his fellow faculty members consider themselves lucky to have had Dr. Coppa as a friend and colleague. “Not only is he one of the most preeminent scholars in the field of Catholic history,” said Dolores Augustine, Ph.D., “but, equally important, he has contributed to a general spirit of collegiality in the History Department.”