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The Ohio State University

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Christopher Gelpi

The Chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution enables The Ohio State University to pursue in-depth studies of nonviolent resolutions to conflict as well as other peace-related issues through the Peace Studies Program housed at the Mershon Center.

The Chair of Peace Studies, an initiative of the Ohio Council of Churches, was established in 2003 with $1.25 million in gifts to the university from Erie and Orlyss Sauder and Sauder Woodworking Co. of Archbold; the Southern Ohio Episcopal Diocese Procter Fund; congregations of Church of the Brethren, Mennonite and Friends; and faculty, staff and numerous friends.

Current chair

The current Chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution is Christopher Gelpi, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science. He began at Ohio State in January 2013.

Gelpi's primary research interests are the sources of international militarized conflict and strategies for international conflict resolution. He is currently engaged in research on American public opinion and the use of military force, and on statistical models for forecasting military conflict and transnational terrorist violence.

He is author of The Power of Legitimacy: The Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining (Princeton, 2002), co-author (with Peter D. Feaver) of Choosing Your Battles: American Civil-Military Relations and the Use of Force (Princeton, 2004), and co-author (with Peter Feaver and Jason Reifler) of Paying the Human Costs of War: American Public Opinion and Casualties in Military Conflicts (Princeton, 2009).

Gelpi is also serving as director of the Mershon Center. 

Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes

Ohio State's beloved football coach Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was not only a fierce competitor on the field, but was also an active and astute observer of military history and national security. He was interested in both athletics and academics, a combination that enhances the legacy he has left Ohio State.

As a veteran of World War II, Coach Hayes had a strong interest in military strategy. Among other things, he hosted a local television program that discussed national security in a historical perspective and guest lectured on the topic at colleges and universities around the United States, including Harvard University.

After his death, the university community proposed making an academic tribute to Coach Hayes. Honoring his commitment to the academic fields he was interested in was "beyond his wildest dreams," said his widow, Anne Hayes.

Through the efforts of Coach Hayes' widow, Anne; his son, Judge Steven B. Hayes; his many friends and admirers; and the university community, the campaign to fund the Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair of National Security Studies was completed in 2001.

The income from this endowment provides funds for the Mershon Center to be home to a high-profile, tenured professor who conducts research and educates a new generation in the issues of national security studies.

The Hayes Chair is open; however, the search is currently on hold pending budget approval.

Raymond E. Mason Jr.

A native of Columbus, Major General Raymond E. Mason Jr. (ret.) graduated from The Ohio State University in 1941. He served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, in the Fourth Armored Division of General George S. Patton’s Third Army. He was a member of the active reserves for 35 years.

Gen. Mason is a graduate of the USA Command and General Staff College and attended the U.S. Army War College. Prior to retiring from the military in 1976, he held several high-ranking Pentagon positions, including Assistant Deputy Chief for Operations and Special Assistant to Deputy Chief of Logistics.

In 1949, Gen. Mason purchased Columbus Truck and Equipment Company and began a distinguished career in the transportation industry. Time magazine named him Truck Dealer of the Year in 1972, and he has received two awards from Mack Trucks.

In 2006, Gen. Mason gave funds to convert the endowed professorship in military history named after him to an endowed chair.

Current chair

The current Mason Chair is Peter Mansoor, who assumed this position in September 2008 after a 26-year career in the U.S. Army that culminated in his service in Iraq as the executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus, the commanding general of Multi-National Force-Iraq, during the period of the surge in 2007-08.

Mansoor is author of two books about his service in Iraq: Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War (Yale University Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History in 2013, and Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq (Yale University Press, 2008), honored by the Ohioana Library Association as non-fiction book of the year.

He is also editor, with Williamson Murray, of two books based on conferences held at the Mershon Center: Grand Strategy and Military Alliances (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents from the Ancient World to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

His first book was The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945 (University Press of Kansas, 1999), which won the Society for Military History distinguished book award and the Army Historical Society distinguished book award in 2000.

Mansoor is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Alpha Theta. His research interests include modern U.S. military history, World War II, the Iraq War, and counterinsurgency warfare.