Remembering and Honoring Larry Kaplan

It is sad to report the passing of Dr. Lawrence Kaplan at the age of 95. Larry passed away in Florida on April 10, 2020. Everyone who knew Larry will be able to cherish and celebrate his legacy and contributions to our lives and the department. Many Alumni and colleagues will remember Larry’s charming personality and the popularity of his teaching back before he retired from Kent State in 1992. In honor of Larry, we reproduce here brief remarks made by emeritus professor, Dr. S. Victor Papacosma, former director of the NATO and EU studies Center and professor of history, who gave these remarks at the department’s Spring Banquet in 2018. We announced then the Larry Kaplan scholarship for deserving undergraduate history majors studying global politics and foreign affairs. There are links below to leave your own remembrance at a cite created by Larry’s family and to find out more about the Kaplan scholarship.

Honoring Lawrence S. Kaplan

I very much welcome the opportunity to offer comments, albeit in too brief a fashion, on this special occasion to honor Lawrence S. Kaplan, my dear friend and colleague of five decades.

Larry is very much an exemplar representative of that Greatest Generation, completing his education after serving his country in World War II and then embarking on an incredible career that, at 93, is still productive and influential. Throughout, Larry has embodied the highest professional standards and qualities that an academic can project. His scholarship, in quality and quantity, is matched by few. Starting off as an authority on Jeffersonian diplomacy, he became America’s preeminent historian of NATO. He concurrently forged an important niche in foreign relations studies for Kent State with the launching of the Center for NATO Studies---now the Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies. My mission as Larry’s successor in 1992 as director was made easier because of Larry’s ongoing interest in and involvement with the Center. His expansive web of professional contacts is incredible, embracing the globe and finding representation in the Lemnitzer Center’s public lectures, conferences, and publications. More recently, Tim Scarnecchia, my successor, has also been a beneficiary of Larry’s good works.

As global as Larry might be in his activities, Larry never shortchanged Kent State and its history department. He was always concerned about the department and its mission. Going back to the 1950s, he participated in the expansion of the university and the department, which specifically saw the development of a doctoral program with new colleagues and accompanying national visibility. In the classroom he consistently performed as one of the department’s most popular professors. Undergraduates loved him. And graduate students profited from his skilled tutelage. Twenty-five years after Larry’s assumption of emeritus status, his loyalty to Kent State, its history department, and the Lemnitzer Center stands strong. It is therefore most fitting that a scholarship be named honoring him and the rich legacy of scholarship, teaching, and humanity that he bequeathed to this fine institution and those associated with it.

S. Victor Papacosma
April 27, 2018

Website: Dr. Lawrence S. Kaplan 1924 - 2020

If you are interested in making a donation to the Kaplan Scholarship, please contact Melissa Halozan,

POSTED: Monday, June 1, 2020 03:19 PM
Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2023 01:14 PM
Timothy Scarnecchia, Ph.D.