Patty Limerick is the Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a Professor of History. Limerick has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between academics and the general public and to demonstrating the benefits of applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts. In January 2016 she was appointed the Colorado State Historian and served till August 2018. Also in January 2016, she was appointed to the National Endowment for the Humanities advisory board, the National Council on the Humanities. Patty was nominated by President Obama in Spring 2015 and was confirmed by the United States Senate in November 2015.
In 1986, Limerick and CU Law Professor Charles Wilkinson founded the Center of the American West, and since 1995 it has been her primary point of affiliation. During her tenure, the Center has published a number of books, including the influential Atlas of the New West (1997), and a series of lively, balanced, and to-the-point reports on compelling Western issues, including What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy (2003), Cleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the West (2006), and What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation (2007). The Center’s film, The Lover’s Guide to the West, offering counseling to the American public on its “troubled relationship with fossil fuels,” debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in April 2010. Limerick and Center staff are currently working on several projects, including a book about the role of the Department of Interior in the West, based on the “Inside Interior” series of interviews hosted by the Center between 2004 and 2006. Under her leadership, the Center of the American West serves as a forum committed to the civil, respectful, problem-solving exploration of important, often contentious, public issues. In an era of political polarization and contention, the Center strives to bring out “the better angels of our nature” by appealing to our common loyalties and hopes as Westerners.