This stimulating lecture series in European history was established in 2001 to honor the memory of Brother Casimir Gabriel Costello, one of many faculty from the order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools who have contributed over the years to the academic reputation of Manhattan College. Brother Gabriel came to Manhattan in 1949 with a new Ph.D. from Fordham to assume the chair of the history department. Brother Gabriel also served as dean of the College, where he stressed that the college must offer a liberal education to all of its students, no matter what their area of concentration, declaring, "the College exists primarily for the cultivation of intellectual virtues and these can never yield primacy to either the functional or vocational." In this spirit, Brother Gabriel defended academic freedom, especially in the dark days of the McCarthy era.
The lecture series is sponsored by one of Brother Gabriel's many grateful students, Roger Goebel, professor of law at Fordham University and director of the Center on European Union Law there. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1957 with a degree in history. From its inception, the series has attracted leading historians giving presentations on a variety of topics, but focusing on Brother Gabriel’s passions, the French Revolution and the Renaissance.
The Robert J. Christen Program in Early American History and Culture was founded in 1986 to honor the memory of Dr. Robert J. Christen (1928–1981), esteemed educator and public servant. The primary benefactors of this program are his widow, Barbara Christen, their three daughters, and friends of the family. Dr. Christen began his long association with Manhattan College as a Manhattan Prep student, and then as an undergraduate in the school of arts, graduating in 1952. He joined the faculty of Manhattan College in 1958. Dr. Christen earned a master’s and Ph.D. from Columbia University. As a scholar, he was a specialist in the colonial and revolutionary periods of American history. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Isaac Sears, a radical New York City patriot during the American Revolution. At Manhattan, he was one of the founders of Pacem in Terris, an institute whose goal was to make the study of peace as serious a subject in academe as war.
The Phi Alpha Theta Brownbag Series began in the fall of 2009 as a lunchtime gathering of students and faculty for informal conversations about the practice of history and the experience of being a historian. The event is held in the fall and spring, and typically features faculty members, undergraduate history majors and social studies majors from the school of education, alumni and guests sharing their work in progress and presenting research papers for discussion.