Dr. Justin Coffey professor of historyQuincy University has announced the five-year appointment of Justin Coffey, Ph.D., professor of history, to the Fr. Aaron Pembleton Endowed Chair in History. The position takes effect in the spring semester of 2022.

In higher education, a donor will sometimes establish an “endowed chair” to allow a university to honor and retain highly accomplished professors. At QU, the Fr. Aaron Pembleton Endowed Chair in History was initiated in 1991 by a generous gift from the late Morton Sennett in honor of Fr. Aaron Pembleton’s 27 years of service as professor and chair of the Department of History at Quincy University. The Pembleton Chair seeks to strengthen teaching and learning in history and recognizes a faculty member of demonstrated excellence.

Coffey becomes the third historian at Quincy University to hold the Pembleton Chair. Other faculty to receive this honor have been David Costigan, Ph.D., emeritus professor of history, and the late Fr. Kenneth Capalbo, OFM, a QU alumnus and 20-year member of the university’s history faculty.

“The Sennett family is delighted to learn of the appointment of Professor Coffey as the Fr. Aaron Pembleton Endowed Chair of History,” said Michael Sennett ’73. “My late father, Morton Sennett, conceived of this endowed chair to honor Fr. Aaron, who was a brilliant and distinguished history professor for many years at Quincy University. He was a teacher and mentor to me and so many others during that time and was a cherished friend of my father and Maria Pia Sennett, the love of his life, traveling with them to Italy and beyond.”

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Fr. Aaron Pembleton entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Callicoon in 1953 and was ordained in 1962 at St. Francis Catholic Church in Teutopolis, Ill. He came to Quincy in the late 1960s and remained until he died in 1995. During his lengthy tenure at Quincy College, Father Pembleton taught history and French, headed the history program for six years, and served on numerous college committees and the College Judicial Board.

In addition to his theology degree, Fr. Pembleton held a bachelor’s degree from Quincy College and a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. In 1976, he was awarded a diploma in French from L’Alliance Française in Paris. He also authored numerous scholarly works and translated a history of the Franciscan order from French to English.

Professor Coffey, the newest occupant of the Pembleton Chair, currently serves as a professor of history and has been a QU faculty member since 2007. Coffey earned a doctoral degree in history from the University of Illinois, Chicago, specializing in United States history since 1877. In addition, he holds a Master of Arts in History from the University of Wyoming and a bachelor’s degree in history from Fordham University in New York. He has authored numerous scholarly articles, the book “Spiro Agnew and the Rise of the Republican Right”, and is currently working on a biography of Richard M. Nixon.  Coffey is a frequent expert political commentator for local news media in Quincy, Ill.

“I am honored to receive the Fr. Aaron Pembleton Chair in History. Fr. Aaron was a true scholar who taught at Quincy University for many years, and he made a profound impact on his students,” said Coffey. “I am grateful to be awarded this position, and I want to thank my colleagues and everyone at Quincy University for their support.”

“For generations, Quincy University students have benefitted from the extraordinary talent and energy of our amazing faculty,” said Brian McGee, Ph.D., QU president. “We are delighted to see Professor Coffey recognized for his many impressive accomplishments, thanks to the generosity and vision of the late Morton Sennett and in honor of the remarkable career of a beloved Franciscan friar and history professor, Fr. Aaron Pembleton. For generations, the history program at QU has changed the lives of students for the better, and that legacy continues today.”

Founded in 1860 by Franciscan friars, Quincy University is a small Catholic university emphasizing the sciences, liberal arts and the professions. Quincy University offers undergraduate, graduate and adult education programs integrating practical experience and Franciscan values. Faculty and advisors work with students to design customized success plans to help them graduate on time, find their passion and prepare them for life. QU is a member of NCAA Division II for intercollegiate athletics. For more information, please visit www.quincy.edu or contact the Office of Community Relations at (217) 228-5275 or communityrelations@quincy.edu. Quincy University. Success by Design.