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About Tad Gromada

THADDEUS V. GROMADA, PH.D.- Biographical Sketch

Dr. Thaddeus Vladimir Gromada was born in Passaic , N.J. , the son of Jan and Aniela Gromada who immigrated to the United States in 1927 from Podhale, the Tatra Mountain region of Poland.  His parents were Polonian activists who founded and directed “The Polish Tatra Highlander Music and Dance Group”.  Both he and his sister Janina were members of that group  which  performed from Connecticut to Washington, DC.  Dr. Gromada is married to the former Theresa Michalski of Fair Lawn, NJ.  They have two sons (Joseph and John)  and a daughter (Ann) and six grandchildren.

Dr. Gromada received his MA and PhD degrees in East Central European  History from Fordham University in New York, under the mentorship of world renowned Polish Historian, Oskar Halecki.  Until his retirement in 1992 he was on the faculty of New Jersey City University in Jersey City where he attained the rank of full Professor of Modern European History.   He also  organized  and led the Multi-Ethnic and Immigration Studies program at this university. Presently, he holds the rank of Professor Emeritus of Modern European History.

Gromada  is editor and contributor to several books dealing with Polish foreign policy in the interwar period, Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, US Immigrant-Ethnic History,  Polish Tatra Folk Culture, Teaching Multi-Ethnic Studies, American Polonia   and  author of many articles that appeared in such journals as Slavic Review, East European Quarterly, Nationalities Papers, and The Polish Review In 1991 he edited and prepared for publication Oskar Halecki’s posthumous monograph Jadwiga of Anjou and the Rise of East Central Europe”  which he presented to Pope John Paul II before the canonization of Queen Jadwiga.  Together with his sister Janina he co-edits and publishes the bilingual quarterly Tatrzanski Orzel (The Tatra Eagle).

Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey appointed Gromada Chairman the Governor’s Commission on Eastern European History.  The Commission published a highly acclaimed report in 1989 on the status of East European studies in the secondary schools of New Jersey which was authored by Dr. Gromada. The report was based on the examination of the most frequently used history and social studies textbooks   He also served as a consultant to  the federal Department of Education, National Education Association, Smithsonian Institution, Polish American Congress, etc. .  In addition he was educational consultant to the Learning  Corporation of America on the production of an educational film The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey and to PBS television on the production of a documentary  The Polish Americans.

Dr. Gromada has had a long association with the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA) which dates back to the 1960’s.  It was his mentor Prof. Oskar Halecki , the first Executive Director and one of the founders of PIASA, who recommended Gromada for membership in 1961 and encouraged him to get more involved in its activities.   From 1971 to 1988 he served as Secretary General; from 1988 to 1991 as  Vice President.  from 1991  to 2011 he was  the Executive Director  of PIASA ;  in 2008 he was also elected its President  and retired in 2011.-

As Secretary General,  Dr. Gromada was responsible for organizing symposia, lectures, special programs and annual meetings.  He saw his role as a liaison between Polish born emigres and American born members and sought to make a greater impact on mainstream American academic centers.  For that reason he arranged in 1972 for PIASA to be affiliated with the AAASS (American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies).  Since then PIASA has been visible at the National Conventions of AAASS organizing  sessions, book exhibits,  meetings .   In 1978 he radically transformed the nature of PIASA’s Annual Meetings by making  them major scholarly conferences following the American models  of the AAASS  and the American Historical Association.

From 1978 to 2009, Dr. Gromada was the organizer and chair of  the Annual meetings which were held  usually with the co-sponsorship of major American universities like Fordham University, Georgetown University, McGill University  , etc.  in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal.  Among the  major achievements were the 58th Annual Meeting held in 2000 in Krakow, Poland with the cooperation of the Jagiellonian University and the “Polska Akademia Umiejetnosci” (PAU),  the 50th Anniversary Congress in 1992 at  Yale , and the Academic Convocation at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.  As a firm believer of cultural pluralism and inter-ethnic cooperation Dr. Gromada encouraged PIASA to participate in the “New Pluralism” movement of the 1970’s and early 1980’s which led to close cooperation, dialogue, joint meetings, consultations with many groups which included Jewish, Ukrainian,  Czech, Slovak, Belarusin, Hispanic,  Baltic groups  ,  and Afro-American.  Gromada, actively, cooperated with the Department of Education in the implementation of the Ethnic Heritage Studies Act passed by Congress.

Dr. Gromada became Executive Director in 1991, just a few years  after the collapse of communism in Poland, which finally  made it possible for PIASA have normal contacts with Polish academic and cultural institutions.  From then on he devoted himself to establishing contacts and a working relationships with major Polish institutions.  He began visiting Poland almost annually from 1992 to 2009.  In 1992 he visited PAU, the parent organization of PIASA,  and  signed a formal agreement of cooperation.  In 1995 a symbolic  PAU station was dedicated on the 4th floor of PIASA’s townhouse in the presence of PAU’s president, Prof. Kazimierz  Kowalski .  Dr. Gromada’s annual reports are printed in  the Rocznik Polskiej Akademii Umiejetnosci  and PAU’s reports have been printed in The Polish Review..  Dr. Gromada has participated in PAU’s conferences  and representatives of PAU have come to PIASA’s Annual Meetings.  Both PAU and the Polska Akademia Nauk (PAN) co-sponsored the  Sklodowska-Curie Symposium marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of radium and polonium that was held at the Rockefeller University in April 1998.

Thanks to an agreement that  Dr . Gromada negotiated with  PAN (Polska Akademia Nauk)  and the Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwow Panstwowych (Polish National Archives)  the process of creating a professional archives at the Polish Institute could begin in 1999.  Since 1999  PIASA received the services of  a professional “Visiting Research Archivist”.  The first research archivist, Stanislaw Flis, who made the major initial  changes between 1999 and 2001was funded by PAN, the next  11 “Visiting Research Archivists”  were funded through grants from the Kosciuszko Foundation.  Today, PIASA’s archival collections are  on the data bases SEZAM and IZA  maintained by Poland’s National Archives and accessible on the internet.  To  get professional help for  electronically cataloguing  PIASA’s Library , Dr. Gromada was able to reach an agreement with Michal Jagiello, Director of  Warsaw’s Biblioteka Narodowa in 2004.    Since 2005 PIASA’s Library has had the benefit of the services of a “Visiting Research Librarian” for the next five years, with the help of grants from the Kosciuszko  Foundation.  Dr. Gromada has arranged the return of the  valuable Potocki Lancut collection  to “Archiwum Akt Dawnych”; in return PIASA Archives received microfilms of the collection.  The original reel to reel tapes with Radio Free Broadcasts to Poland, prepared in  New York , were sent to  Poland’s national archives; in return PIASA received CD’s of the radio  broadcasts. The Polish National Archives published a guide to PIASA’s Archives  in 2004 “PIN w Ameryce” Przewodnik po Zbiorach Archiwalnych “ prepared by Stanislaw Flis.  Foundation for Polish Science  gave PIASA a $10,000 grant in 2001 to provide proper climate control for its archives while the Semper Polonia  Foundation gave $15,000. to help computerize PIASA’s library.  Dr. Gromada,has  also maintained contacts with the Jagiellonian University, Ministry of  Culture and National Heritage, Ministry of Science and Higher Education and Wspolnota.

During Dr. Gromada’s tenure, PIASA was able to pay off its $300,000. mortgage  on its five story townhouse on 208 E. 30th  St. NYC and for the first time in its history, it owns its headquarters.  In 1995 Awards Presentations (Halecki History Award; Malinowski Social Science Award; Lednicki Humanities  Award and Funk Natural Science Award) and receptions were commenced.  Since 1990 cordial relations were established with the Polish Embassy and Polish Consulate General in New York City.  Polish Ambassadors and Polish Consul Generals have participated in PIASA Annual Meetings, Awards Presentations, and other events.  Some of these events are scheduled in the Polish Consulate General on East 37th St. . and receptions were held for PIASA members in the Polish Embassy . Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski  made an official visit to  the Polish Institute in 2000 and asserted that “I am pleased to acknowledge that we can always count on the Polish Institute’s valuable experience and professionalism for our activities in the United States”. In 2002 The Polish Embassy and PIASA have jointly established the “Ambassador Kazimierz Dziewanowski  Memorial Dissertation Award”   a $1000. Award which is presented each year at PIASA’s Annual Meeting for the best Doctoral dissertation on Polish studies  accepted at an American university.

Dr. Gromada maintains a cordial and cooperative relationship with Polish American organizations especially with Kosciuszko Foundation, Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) ,  Polish Cultural Foundation of New Jersey,  and American Council for Polish Culture. He was trustee and Vice Chair of the Kosciuszko Foundation 1981-2009; President of  PAHA in 1984 and 1995-96,  which awarded him the “Haiman Medal”.  The American Council for Polish Culture awarded him the “Distinguished Service Award” in 2000.  He is listed in the Who’s Who in America and in  Honorowa Ksiega Nauki Polskiej   (Warsaw, 2001) . Elected “Honorary Member” of the Zwiazek Podhalan in  Poland and in the US.  In 2000 he received Poland’s Commander’s Cross of Merit in Krakow.

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