Letter from the Chair

Dr. Steve Kale

The Department of History last produced a newsletter in 2009.

Much has changed since then…

A number of beloved professors retired and our faculty had the pleasure of welcoming many new colleagues, including Lawrence Hatter (Early U.S.), Ashley Wright (World History), and Peter Boag, the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West.

Many of our new colleagues were hired to teach in the Roots of Contemporary Issues (RCI) Program, directed by Jesse Spohnholz and Clif Stratton, including Kaja Cook, Kathleen Fry, Karen Phoenix, Charles Weller, Sean Wempe, and Julian Dodson.

As this roster of talent indicates, the RCI program is a centerpiece of the department’s mission. It is one of a handful of core courses taught by the College of Arts and Sciences and attended by nearly all WSU students.

The goal of this course is to provide students with the tools to address contemporary issues from a historical perspective. Those who worked over the years to design and teach this course created a successful model for similar programs across the country to emulate.

In addition to expanding our teaching mission, the department has seen a number of notable faculty accomplishments in research and scholarship in recent years. For example, since 2009, History faculty published more than 14 books, with many more on the way.

A few faculty earned prestigious grants and fellowships, and used the funding to travel to collections, as well as to teach abroad.

Faculty increasingly combine their research and teaching by engaging in a greater number of projects involving faculty-mentored student research projects, showcases, and digital humanities.

At our Tri-Cities campus, Bob Bauman and Douglas O’Reagan developed the Hanford History Project in conjunction with students and a number of national and community partners. This project seeks to preserve, curate, and make available to the public the rich history of the Hanford site that played such a crucial role in the Manhattan Project during World War II.

With the help of Peter Boag, Laurie Mercier at our Vancouver campus, and other Pullman colleagues, our department built a first-class graduate program in the History of the American West.

Our department plans to extend its teaching, research, and outreach activities with the implementation of an American West Initiative that envisions interdisciplinary programs involving undergraduate and graduate students organized around addressing big questions and major challenges associated with the American West, and the Pacific Northwest region in particular, focusing on issues related to the environment, health, and economic opportunity.

With help from our many donors and supporters, and with the support of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences, the History department expanded the scope and quality of our activities.

Recent graduates move into careers in the public and private sectors, and many who earned doctoral degrees accept faculty positions at other institutions.

Our department depends heavily on the help and support of former students in order to fund undergraduate and graduate scholarships, provide faculty with support for research and conference travel, and create and sustain projects that allow students to work closely with faculty to get hands-on experience in historical research and exposition.

With this newsletter, we hope to reach out to our friends and supporters every year. Alumni and friends can also keep in touch with the department through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our new website.

We hope that all these resources will provide you with ways to remain connected to our department and to continue to offer your support.

Thank you,

Steven Kale, Chair