Robert Szymczak receives Poland’s Gold Cross of Merit

Robert Szymczak, associate professor of history at Penn State Beaver, received the Polish Gold Cross of Merit, one of Poland’s highest honors, at the University of Warsaw in June. Szymczak presented a paper at the three-day Fifth World Congress on Polish Studies, which was sponsored by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America and included a variety of papers presented by international scholars.

His paper explored the topic of "Cold War Airwaves: The Polish American Congress and the Justice for Poland Radio Series, 1950-1953.” A banquet was held in the Polish National Library for members of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences who attended the conference.

At the event, Boguslaw Winid, undersecretary of state, ministry of foreign affairs, Poland, announced that Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski had approved several official medals to be awarded to scholars, one of whom was Szymczak. According to a statement from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the medals were given to honor "outstanding accomplishments on the history of Poland, the promotion of Polish culture, and service for the Polish diaspora and Poles living abroad."

Szymczak is recognized internationally for his body of work and research on Polish history, the Holocaust, World War II, the Soviet Era, the Cold War, modern Eastern Europe, and United States ethnic and diplomatic history. Szymczak has presented more than 50 papers at academic conferences, including ”The Vindication of Memory: The Katyn Case in the West, Poland, and Russia, 1952-2008" which was published in The Polish Review by The Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America.

In 2012, Szymczak received the Swastek Award for Best Article of the Year, which was given by the Editorial Board of the Polish American Studies journal at an awards ceremony hosted by the Polish Consulate in Chicago. He was honored for his article, "Cold War Crusader: Arthur Bliss Lane and the Private Committee to Investigate the Katyn Massacre, 1949-1952,” which appeared in Polish American Studies: A Journal of Polish American History and Culture.

Szymczak also is the recipient of numerous Penn State honors, including the University’s George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Research Award, and the Penn State Commonwealth College Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition, he is a three-time recipient of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Teaching Award.

Szymczak, a native of East Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, holds a doctorate in modern world history from Carnegie Mellon University; a doctorate in recent American history and politics from Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK; a master’s degree in liberal studies from Duquesne University; a master’s degree in history/international relations; a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from West Virginia University; and a certificate of study from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.

Szymczak can be contacted at or 724-773-3895.

Last Updated January 09, 2015