We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Larry Usilton

Sept. 19, 2017

In the fall of 1970, Larry W. Usilton met the chair of UNCW’s History Department, who was looking for someone to teach both ancient and medieval history. Usilton sent in his application, and the rest is Seahawk history.

When he was formally hired in 1971, Usilton wasn’t much older than his students. Now, he’s teaching the grandchildren of those students. Being here still, as UNCW celebrates its 70th anniversary, is, the professor said, “Everything. The university was still very young when I became a member of the faculty. In a very real sense, we have grown old together.”

Between 1995 and 1999, Usilton served as chair of the history department. In 1991, he became the first director of UNCW’s Swansea Study Abroad Program. “In the same way that the university was morphing into something new and exciting, the Swansea experience would open new doors for me in terms of research, new friends and future travel opportunities,” he said.

When he returned from Wales, he created “Medieval Sampler,” a travel program based on his research interests. His goal was to expose students to the castles, cathedrals and battlefields that they learn about in the classroom. Since the inception of the program in 1992, Usilton has led 23 tours to such places as England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy and Greece. He is planning a spring break 2018 trip to Portugal and Spain.

Usilton noted that he didn’t begin his tenure when the university was located in the Isaac Bear building on Market Street, “but I was among the first wave of new pioneers who took up residence just a few years after Wilmington College became a part of the UNC system.”

He can recall when the campus had only seven academic buildings, a library, dining hall, an auditorium and a gymnasium. Since then, he and UNCW have literally gone around the world together. “We continue to draw our fair share of students from the region, but also from many other states and countries. It is, without question, a school which now has an international reputation.”

-- Caroline Cropp

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