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MSU’s Kiffmeyer receives recognition from EKU history department

For more than two decades, Dr. Tom Kiffmeyer, associate professor of history at Morehead State University, has hoped his own enthusiasm for the subject matter would be passed on to and be appreciated by his students.  

“I think sometimes, I just kind of go off in my own little world and it’s exciting for me and that’s enough,” he said. “Just because it happened in 1836 doesn’t mean the history is over because there’s always a way of looking at it.” 

Recently, one of Kiffmeyer’s college alma maters showed its own appreciation for Kiffmeyer’s contributions to the field. Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies recognized Kiffmeyer as a distinguished alumnus. 

Kiffmeyer grew up in Cincinnati and said what sparked his passion for history may have been the stories his grandfather told him about the area as a child. He went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both political science and history from nearby Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1985 before heading to the Bluegrass State to earn his master’s degree from EKU in 1987 and eventually his Ph.D. in history from the University of Kentucky in 1998. 

As an author, Kiffmeyer’s published work largely focuses on capturing the history of Appalachia and, more specifically, areas of Eastern Kentucky. His 1998 article “From Self-Help to Sedition: The Appalachian Volunteers in Eastern Kentucky, 1964-1970" published in “The Journal of Southern History” was the first published work to write a local history on the War on Poverty. He has authored several articles, reviews and the 2008 book “Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty.” 

Kiffmeyer said his detailed dives into Appalachian history often stem from a place of basic curiosity but almost always end up revealing something bigger. 

“You start to see beyond the surface of so many things,” he said. “You can look at Floyd County and talk about the United States, if you pay attention.” 

As he wraps up his 22nd year of teaching as a history professor at MSU, Kiffmeyer said he will continue to write and make contributions to the field of history while finding new and exciting ways to examine it for himself and present it to others. 

“There’s always new history to teach and there’s always new history to learn, so I’m not done yet,” he said. 

For more information on MSU’s Department of History, Philosophy, Politics, Global Studies and Legal Studies, call 606-783-2655, email or visit