Patricia Limerick
Professor • Director of the Applied History Initiative
American West

SEEC C224 / Mailing: 609 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 / Physical: 4001 Discovery Drive, Boulder, CO 80303

 Alternate contact for Patty Limerick: via Applied History Initiative Manager:


Patty Limerick is a Professor of History of the American West. After years of work in the territory of Applied History, Patty is now the Director of the Applied History Initiative. From 1986 to 2022, Patty Limerick was the Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado. A tenured Professor of History at CU Boulder, 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. Limerick is also known as an energetic, funny, and engaging public speaker, sought after by a wide range of Western constituencies that include private industry groups, state and federal agencies, and grassroots organizations.

Limerick has received a number of awards and honors recognizing the impact of her scholarship and her commitment to teaching, including the MacArthur Fellowship (1995 to 2000) and the Hazel Barnes Prize, the University of Colorado’s highest award for teaching and research (2001). She has served as president of several professional organizations, advised documentary and film projects, and done two tours as a Pulitzer Nonfiction jurist, as well as chairing the 2011 Pulitzer jury in History. She regularly engages the public on the op-ed pages of local and national newspapers. Limerick has served as President of the Organization of American Historians,  American Studies Association, the Western History Association, and the Society of American Historians, and as the Vice President of the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association.

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 debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in April 2010. Under her leadership, the Center of the American West served as a forum committed to the civil, respectful, problem-solving exploration of important, often contentious, public issues.