Distinguished Alumni

Richard Aquila, Class of 1964

In 1959, Dick transferred from South Buffalo’s P.S. 29 to Hamburg Junior High. In high school, he wrestled varsity all four years, winning the AAA VI sectionals in 1964. He also played on the JV and varsity baseball teams. His most memorable academic moment came when his social studies teacher, Mr. Teague, selected him as one of four seniors to question a U.S. congressman on local TV.

After graduation, Dick attended Bowling Green State University and earned a B.S. in journalism and M.A. in history. After completing a Ph.D. in history at Ohio State University, he set off on a 40-year adventure as a history professor, with stops at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Ball State University, and Penn State University, the Behrend College. During his career, he published 7 books and numerous articles and reviews. Dick also wrote and hosted “Rock & Roll America,” a weekly one-hour program broadcast for two seasons on NPR and NPR Worldwide. In 2004, Ball State University awarded Dick a “Distinguished Professorship” for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

In addition to teaching and writing, Dick served as chair of the history department and head of the American Studies Program at Ball State, and later became Director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend.

After Dick retired in 2015, he returned to Buffalo to be closer to friends and family. Dick continues to write books, as well as columns for USA Today, The Hill, and other national publications. He also serves as a “Distinguished Lecturer” of the Organization of American Historians and gives public lectures at the Chautauqua Institute and other top venues.