Associate Professor of History

  • Office: Carnegie Hall, room 4
  • Phone: (865) 981-8265

A Brief Autobiographical Sketch

 

Not only am I proud to be an associate professor of history at Maryville College, I am also the Coordinator of the Great Smokies Experience at Maryville College and Tremont, and I am the Treasurer of the Southeast World History Association.

I was born just south of the Mason-Dixon line in the great Southern port of Baltimore and grew up in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City.  I confess that I was not a stellar student in my public school where they told us that history was about the rote memorization of the names of dead people, dates and trivial factoids.  Luckily, I had a few success in other subjects like journalism and, especially music.  I played--and still play--electric bass and guitar.  (I also used to play tuba, but the last time I put a tuba to my face it sounded like I was strangling a diseased goat.)  Those few successes gave me a sense that I could achieve some success academically and these bright spots on my mixed scholastic record convinced Hartwick College in (very) rural New York State to take a second look at my high school transcript and accept me.

At that small liberal arts college, I met professors who were full-time practitioners and teachers of history who cared about the study of the past, and about their students.  They showed me that history is a process of interpreting the past based on evidence, not a practice of filling in little circles on a multiple-choice test.  I double-majored in history and philosophy and four years later with a BA in hand, I knew that I wanted to teach at a similar school and change my students' lives the way that my own life was changed at Hartwick.

I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Austin and in 2003 I earned my Ph.D. in history with a major field of Latin America, and a minor field in modern Africa.  Texas' excellence in the field of graduate-level Latin American history--consistently ranked #1 in this area by U.S. News and World Reports--gave me a broad and enriching education in this field.  Texas also afforded me opportunities to learn about other fields of history.  I was fortunate enough to take an ecological history course with Alfred Crosby, one of the founders of the field.  As a teaching assistant and supplemental instructor, I gained significant teaching experience in U.S. history as well.  Despite the understandable emphasis on highly focused research and publishing at Texas, I was still able to broaden my horizons there because the goal that sustained me through this challenging program was my dream of someday teaching at a small liberal arts college.

In 2006, that dream came true.  After a few years of teaching alongside wonderful colleagues at other fine institutions, Maryville College ran a national search for a historian and I got the job.  To this day I understand how blessed I am to be working here and I am thankful that I've been able to work in a career that I love at a place that emphasizes the core values that made me passionate about learning in the first place.

If you have more questions about my background, here's a copy of my CV.  Please feel free to email me if you need to get in contact with me, and thanks for stopping by.