The Primary Source
March 2012 Grand Valley State University History Department Vol. 3, No. 2
DEPARTMENT HONORS ANNOUNCED; PRIZES
TO BE AWARDED THIS SPRING
Congratulations to the students winning departmental honors this year:
History Major of the Year for 2012: Patrick Anderson
Group Social Studies Major of the Year for 2012: Stephany Reister
Niemeyer Award Winners: Max Ostrowski and Katrina Maynes
Breen Prize Winner: Patrick Anderson
Breen Honorable Mention: Eric Baumgarten
The Niemeyer Scholarship is awarded to two outstanding junior or senior students who maintain a GPA of 3.25 or better in history and overall. Glenn Niemeyer was a professor of history and long-time provost at GVSU. The Quirinus Breen Prize is awarded for best student research essay on a historical subject. Quirinus Breen was a scholar of Renaissance humanism who taught in the department from 1965 through 1968. The Breen Scholar receives a cash award of $200.
History Department Offers Seven New Courses in Fall 2012
Registration for 2012-2013 Courses Begins March 19
HST 212: Indian Civilization c. 2500 B.C.E to 1500 C.E.: Summer 2012 and Fall 2012. This course examines Ancient and Medieval India both chronologically and thematically, and explores the rise and fall of its civilizations, kingdoms and dynasties. In tracing the political developments, the course emphasizes the rich and diverse culture of human experiences that have shaped a relatively unique civilization in South Asia. (Summer: 6/25 to 8/7, TR 12:00-3:20 pm; Fall: TR 11:30-12:45 pm; Professor Wangdi)
HST 207: European History to the Late Middle Ages: Fall 2012. An historical survey focusing on the development of European civilization from Classical Greece to the Later Middle Ages. This course will explore the intellectual, social, religious, political and cultural aspects of the formation of Europe. Fulfills the Historical Perspectives requirement. (TR 2:30-3:45 pm; Professor Chapman)
^ : Fall 2012. Surveys the African continent from pre-history to the present. The course introduces students to the study of Africa from a global perspective and will focus on major issues in African history. Topics will include human origin, migration, technology, slavery, Christianity, Islam, colonization and independence. (MWF 11:00-11:50 am; Professor Eaton)
HST 307: United States in the Age of Globalization: Fall 2012. Thematic survey of the United States since the 1970s, with focus on political, social, cultural, intellectual, and economic trends, in particular the impact of globalization and the end of the Cold War, industrial and technological change, multiculturalism, consumerism and the mass media, and the ascendancy of conservatism. (MWF 1:00-1:50 pm; Professor Murphy)
HST 339: Modern Iran: Fall 2012. This course is a study of the major developments in the history of Iran from the Qajar shahs to the current Islamic Republic, concentrating on the relationship between state and society by highlighting religious, political, and cultural developments in modern Iran. (TR 1:00-2:15 pm; Professor Lingwood)
HST 343: History of South Africa: Fall 2012. Examines the political, social and economic history of South Africa from the late seventeenth century to the early 1990s. The course will analyze the forces that created modern South Africa, particularly European conquest and colonization; mineral discoveries; industrialization; Apartheid; religion and the Dutch Reformed Church, and African resistance. (MWF 2:00-2:50 pm; Professor Eaton)
HST 351: Ancient Rome: Fall 2012. Roman history from the foundation of the city of Rome through the reign of Augustus. Emphasis on the development of historical writing in the Roman World, a critical examination of ancient and modern historiography, and significant aspects of Roman political and social history. (MWF 9:00-9:50 am; Professor W. Morison)
HST 400: Junior Seminar: Vietnam: Fall 2012. This seminar will examine the series of conflicts that took place in Vietnam from the Second World War through the fall of Saigon in 1975. Students will read and discuss several core and specialized works relating to the Vietnamese struggle for independence from the French, and then the conflicts resulting from the partition of Vietnam and American efforts to prevent the unification of Vietnam under communist control. Students will choose a specific research topic relating to whatever dimension of these conflicts, their causes, or their consequences that they wish to pursue and produce a research paper on that topic. The course will make extensive use of the collection of oral history interviews conducted by the instructor for the GVSU Veterans History Project and will include weekly visits from veterans with a diverse set of experiences in the conflict. The students will be able to meet and talk with these veterans and will also have the opportunity to conduct their own interviews. This course may be used as an upper level elective in the History Major or Minor under the current program. (MWF 11:00-11:50 am; Professor Smither)
HST 208: European Civilization since the Middle Ages: Winter 2013. Examines major events in European history from the Later Middle Ages to the present, including social, political, economic and cultural developments. Topics will include the Reformation and Renaissance, the Age of Revolutions, the rise of fascism and communism, the two world wars and the Holocaust, and events since 1945. (MW 3:00-4:15; Professor Smither)
HST 230: Latin American in World History: Winter 2013. This is a broad survey of Latin American history from the pre-Colombian period to the present. The course will focus on major issues and themes in Latin American history. Topics will include: Amerindians, conquest, slavery, independence, national identity, foreign intervention, revolutions, and inequality. (T 6:00-8:50 pm; Professor Huner)
HST 240: History of East Asia to 1800: Winter 2013. A broad overview of East Asian political systems, social changes, economic transformation, regional relations and cultural interaction from prehistory to 1800. Major historical events and trends along with cultural differences and interactions will be examined. Emphasis is given to China and Japan, though Korea and Vietnam are also covered. (MWF 11:00-11:50 am; Professor Shan)
HST 380-01: The American Presidency and Leadership: Fall 2012. Traditionally, people became leaders either through conquest or dynastic succession. The establishment of the United States contributed to a sea change in leadership. From the founding period to the late 1800s, an increasingly democratic polity with a robust civil society fostered the virtues of cooperation, flexibility, adaptability, and compromise – often to a greater degree than found elsewhere in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this seminar, Grand Valley President Emeritus Arend Lubbers and Hauenstein Center Director Gleaves Whitney look at American leaders and their leadership styles in historical context. Special attention will be given to U.S. presidents from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt since they provide a treasure trove of insights and case studies in the examination of leadership prior to the 20th century. (TR 10:00-11:15 am; Professors Lubbers and Whitney)
^ Fall 2012. The course examines the history and organization of museums; the operation and multiple functions of museums in American society; and the political, legal, and ethical issues that confront museum professionals and other scholars working with material culture. Through applied projects, students explore practical concerns such as exhibition, education, collections management, and conservation. (TR 4:00-5:15 pm; Professor M. Morison)
^ Fall 2012. (Research Methods in History will soon be proposed as HST 290, a new addition to the History curriculum.) The course examines how historians think about and “do” history. It introduces students to the basics of historical research, examining the ways in which historians shape research questions and how they determine the methods (quantitative and qualitative) and materials to use. Students will learn how to design a viable research project, frame a key question of inquiry, determine what historical methodology might best suit that inquiry, locate primary and secondary sources, read them critically, and present solid work in the form of a research proposal. This work will prepare you for upper-division history courses and also build a foundation of skills that you can build upon for use in diverse professional career paths. (M 6:00-8:50 pm; Professor Underwood)
^ Fall 2012. Students edit and publish the student-run Grand Valley Journal of History. (MW 3:00-4:15 pm; Professor Cataldo)
HST 380-05: Goths to Gothic: Medieval Art: Fall 2012. This course investigates the arts of Europe and the broader Mediterranean between the sixth and fifteenth centuries. We will explore the connections between visual media and one’s sense of place in the world, the construction of authority and gender, the expression of violence and romance, as well as the place of the artist in society. To consider these themes, our discussions will incorporate manuscript illustration, textiles, stained glass, sculpture, and architecture. In addition to thinking about the medieval past, we will examine contemporary reverberations of the period in art and popular culture. (TR 2:30-3:45; Professor Danielson)
^ : Fall 2012. (T 6:00-8:50 pm, TBA, Professor Baier)
HST 380-07: Local /Archival Technique: Fall 2012. This course is an introduction to techniques of using material from local archives and other nearby sources for research and preparation of classroom materials. (TBA; Professor Daley)
HST 380-01: History Journal 2: Winter 2013. Students edit and publish the student-run Grand Valley Journal of History. (MW 3:00-4:15 pm; Professor Cataldo)
HST 380-02: Renaissance Art: City, Church, and Home: Winter 2013. This class combines the chronological and thematic approaches to explore visual media produced in Europe between 1350 and 1600. We will examine the arts in connection with gender and social class, civic and domestic settings, encounters with cultures beyond Europe, religious reform, consumerism, and artistic identity. We will also investigate the reception and appropriation of early modern visual culture in later eras. (TR 2:30-345 pm; Professor Danielson)
^ Winter 2013. This course is designed to provide students with an overview of economic conditions, changes, and development over time. The course will also examine the relationship between economic history and current economic conditions. While much of the course will focus on western economies from the Industrial Revolution to the present, additional geographic regions and time periods will also be explored. Specific topics that will be covered include, among other things, financial history, labor history, and the determinants of long-run economic growth. The prerequisite for the course is ECO 210 or ECO 211 or ECO 200. (TR 10:00-11:15 am; Professor Giedeman)
^ If you are considering graduate school or otherwise would like to undertake an independent research project of your own design, consider enrolling in HST 498: Senior Thesis. A senior thesis provides an opportunity for self-directed, intensive historical research on a topic of your choice. The three-credit course counts towards fulfillment of elective credit for the History major. Each student chooses a professor as a thesis advisor with whom to work closely on the project and completes a written paper graded by the advisor. HST 498 is especially recommended for students desiring a written sample of historical research when applying to graduate programs. Enroll either term. If you have questions, see Professor Murphy, Assistant Chair (email@example.com).
NOW ONLINE: Permit Forms for SST 495 Permit, Closed Class Permit, and Pre-Req Waiver:
If a course requires a registration permit, is closed, or prevents registration based on lack of a prerequisite, go to the History Department website to request an electronic permit or override. Go to the “Permits” link on the lefthand side of the webpage and click on the relevant permit. Complete the form online; scroll down to complete entire form. If you are requesting a closed class permit, you will need to contact the instructor of the class to request permission to enroll. Include the instructor’s e-mailed permission with your form. Once the electronic override is entered into Banner, you will receive an e-mail notification and be able to register. The issuance of an electronic override does not automatically register you for the course.
Beginning in August 2012, all new history majors will take the new history curriculum. The changes do not change the requirements for current majors, and they do not affect the History Minor or the Group Social Studies major, which remain unchanged.
How the changes do affect history majors? In the new curriculum students taking HST 495 must have taken two sections of HST 400: Junior Seminar in History (or one section of HST 400 and HST 498: Senior Thesis). Banner is currently enforcing this prerequisite! If you have a problem registering, go to the History website and click “Permit” to request a prerequisite override.
The new curriculum offers a greater variety of courses (adding many courses in Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and European history—a total of seventeen new courses). In addition, the curriculum makes greater use of 200-level courses, including shifting the current required Writing History course from HST 300 to HST 200. The new HST 200 will be a prerequisite for the required HST 400 seminars. The new Junior Seminar (HST 400) represents a much greater commitment to requiring research and writing of undergraduates.
Ghanaian Scholar visits History Department
Professor De-Velara N. Y. M. Botchway of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, has been on the Grand Valley State University campus since Monday, March 12, visiting classes and presenting lectures on the African Diaspora. Professor Scott Stabler is hosting Professor Botchway, whom he met while on a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Cape Coast last year. Professor Botchway is a specialist in the social and cultural history of African Diaspora societies, indigenous medicine and knowledge systems in Africa, and religious and political nationalist movements. He is the author of “When the People Decide Colonialism: Social and Economic Changes and the Emergence of Modern Nationalism in the Gold Coast,” published in 2008 in Drumspeak: International Journal of Research in the Humanities.
Professor De-Velara Botchway will present a paper entitled “Symbology of the Hair in the Boboshanti Order of Rastafarism” at the History Department Faculty Colloquium on Monday, March 19, Noon to 1:00 pm, MAK D-1-141. The Friends of International Faculty will host a reception Wednesday, March 21, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm in the Honors College Common Room.
Professor De-Velara N. Y. M. Botchway
The History Department will once again host the Western Michigan Regional History Day contest. Nearly four hundred Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon County students participated in History Day activities this year. Over 230 students will compete at Grand Valley State University on March 17. Students compete in a variety of categories, producing documentaries, performances, exhibits, websites, and papers that address this year’s theme: “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History.” Winners at this level will advance to the state competition, to be held at Central Michigan University, on April 28. State winners advance to the national competition. History Department faculty, alumni, local teachers, and GVSU history and social studies majors judge the entries. For more information, contact Professor O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are interested in judging next year, please attend and contact Professor O’Neill or Ms. Michelle Duram (email@example.com).
History Department Office Coordinator Michelle Duram received the 2012 Women's Commission inaugural Unsung Hero Award for her selfless devotion and dedication to the students, faculty, and staff of GVSU. The award honors the contributions of someone who improves the GVSU community but may not be well known to the general public for the outstanding efforts they make. Professor Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin nominated Ms. Duram on behalf of the History Department. The Unsung Hero Award was presented at the annual Women’s Commission Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 13.
At the Awards Ceremony, Ms. Duram, who has worked at GVSU for over 25 years, said she felt humbled. “I have been on campus for over 25 years and cannot express how much GVSU means to me,” she declared. “I have worked in the History Department since my son who will graduate in April was 7 months old….We are a close knit family of professors, office staff, and fantastic student workers. We have worked as a family through really great times, retirements of people who have given so much to GVSU, and hiring new people to our ever growing department. In fact we have six new department babies arriving in 2012—maybe too many good times? And we have weathered tough times such as illnesses and losing family members, BUT because we are a family, we have bonded together for each other.” One of the Department’s most important goals, Ms. Duram noted, “is to ensure every GVSU student, administrator, faculty member, or visitor who walks through our office doors seeking assistance is given the best advice we can offer.”
Ms. Michelle Duram, Office Coordinator
The full text of the History Department nomination letter is at the end of this newsletter (see “Full Text,” p. 16).
Theta Club News:
Books for a Buck (Book Sale)
Second Annual Quiz Bowl!
NEW: Theta Club Web Page!
Phi Alpha Theta News:
Congratulations to the twenty students eligible for induction into the Omega Theta chapter of Phi Alpha Theta!
WHAT IS PHI ALPHA THETA? Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, promotes the study of history by honoring students who have maintained high academic standards throughout their college careers. The national chapter of Phi Alpha Theta has scholarships and grants available for students. Members are eligible to wear an honor cord at graduation.
For more information, contact Professor Chapman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please watch the Theta Club board in the Mackinac Hall D Wing for upcoming opportunities for presenting papers at conferences, scholarships, and fellowships.
2012 Great Lakes History Conference to be Held in Conjunction with the Women’s and Gender Historians of the Midwest
Theme: “Born in Revolution”: History, Gender, and the Power of Conflict
At the suggestion of Professor Gretchen Galbraith, the History Department will co-host the Thirty-Eighth Annual Great Lakes History Conference, October 12-13, 2012, with the Women’s and Gender Historians of the Midwest (WGHOM). The aim of this unique collaboration with WGHOM is to gather academics, teachers, activists, archivists, students and the public to explore the idea of revolutionary change in history, especially as it concerns the question of gender. The conference will highlight the role of revolutionaries in Michigan’s history with a screening of American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs about the noted Detroit activist and feminist. (For more information on the film, see http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/.)
In the conference Call for Papers (available under the Great Lakes History Conference link here: http://www.gvsu.edu/history/), the conference organizers highlight the life of Mother Jones, an exemplary American revolutionary:
In her autobiography, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones aptly described the
lives of many other individuals and nations over the course of history: “I
was born in revolution.” As the world events of spring 2011 unfolded in
such diverse locations as the statehouse of Wisconsin and the streets of
Egypt, historians tried to make sense of 21st century political, economic,
social and religious upheaval in the context of the revolutionary changes of
the past. In particular, one question that has arisen and that forms the
focus of this conference is the ways in which gender informs, undermines,
or bolsters revolutionary struggles. Perhaps she was born in revolution,
but Mother Jones also made revolution her lifelong goal through teaching,
labor organizing and activism.
The organizers encourage not only the presentation of research by academics, graduate students and undergraduates, but also papers, roundtables and panels from teachers, librarians, archivists, activists, and public historians that speak to the question of gender history and its revolutionary potential. Possible themes might include:
--Revolutions broadly defined (social, political, cultural, economic)
--Documentary projects, oral histories or new resources relating to
--Revolution and Gender
--Revolution from below – local activism and gender dynamics
--Specific revolutionary moments, e.g. Arab Spring 2011
For more information about how to participate in this conference, please see the History Department’s website http://www.gvsu.edu/history/ or contact Professor Galbraith (email@example.com).
In the Current Issue of Grand Valley Journal of History:
Dawn Heerspink, “’No Man’s Land’: Fairy Tales, Gender, Socialization, Satire, and Trauma During the First and Second World Wars”
Katrina Maynes, “Korean Perceptions of Chastity, Gender Roles, and Libido; From Kisaengs to the Twenty First Century”
Hayley E. Pangle, “Christian Mysticism as a Threat to Papal Traditions”
The ^ is a student-run publication devoted to undergraduate historical research. Students edit and publish the journal, which is hosted by the Scholar Works @ GVSU institutional repository. Students on the editorial board are currently enrolled in HST 380: History Journal, taught by Professor Cataldo. The students plan to distribute a second issue by the end of April.
For more information contact the Editor-in-Chief, Akshay Sarathi, or see http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/gvjh/
The university has created a new Office of Fellowships (NMH 126). Director Amanda Cuevas along with her assistant Jackie Dickinson provide scholarship & fellowship advising services to GVSU students and alumni. If you are interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships, visit their office early in your career at GVSU. The office will help you match potential award opportunities with your strengths, interests and ambitions, and will assist you in designing a game plan to best help you attain the fellowship goals that you set for yourself. Visit: http://www.gvsu.edu/fellowships/ or call 331-3219 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three Scholars to Join the Faculty Next Year
Professor Michael Huner will join the faculty as a specialist in modern Latin American history. Professor Huner is a Michigan native. He completed a B.A. in History at Valparaiso University and a M.A. and Ph.D. (completed in 2011) at the University of North Carolina. The title of his dissertation is “Sacred Cause, Divine Republic: A History of Nationhood, Religion, and War in Nineteenth-Century Paraguay, 1850-1870.” His research interests include South America, particularly Paraguay, and nationhood/citizenship and the ways clergy and institutional practices of the Catholic Church articulated early expressions of nationhood. Professor Huner can speak Guaraní, an indigenous language. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Global History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
Professor Alisa Kesler Lund will join the faculty as a specialist in Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction. Professor Kesler Lund joins the History Department from Michigan State University where she is currently a teaching assistant in the Department of Teacher Education. Her dissertation is entitled “Elementary Students’ Motivation and Historical Thinking Skills at the BIG History Lesson.” Professor Kesler Lund received her M.A.T. in Teaching History from the University of San Diego in 2005. Her thesis was “Why is History Boring? Exploring a Pedagogical Problem.” She received her B.A. in History from the University of Utah in 2002. She has taught at both the graduate and undergraduate level while at MSU and has both high school and middle school teaching experience.
Professor David Zwart joins the faculty as a specialist in Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. Professor Zwart will soon defend his dissertation at Western Michigan University. The title of his dissertation is “Faithful Remembering: Dutch-American Protestant Commemorations, 1924-1976.” Professor Zwart received his M.A. in History from California State, Fresno, in 2004 and his B.A. in History and Education from Dordt College in 1999. He has been teaching at Dordt College since 2008. Before his college career Professor Zwart was a middle school social studies teacher at Central Valley Christian School in Visalia, California
Activities and Awards:
Professors Craig Benjamin and Grace Coolidge were among 20 faculty members to receive the Faculty of Distinction award from the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society in recognition of the important role faculty members play for students both in and out of the classroom.
Professor Alice Chapman was a recipient of the Pew Teaching Excellence Award from the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center at the annual Faculty Awards Convocation on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Her citation reads:
Students sometimes wrongly think of history as being the boring study of
past events and dead people. Alice Chapman quickly disabuses her
students of that idea. She teaches medieval history by making the Middle
Ages come alive. She does this by utilizing creative approaches, which
include having students write and participate in Gregorian chants, carve
quill pens, copy Latin from 12th century manuscripts using those newly
carved pens, and exploring what European civilizations sounded like by
listening to a variety of musical selections of the era. Those who know her
repeatedly remark on her “boundless energy” which is evident not only in
the classroom but also out of the classroom, as it is in her sponsorship of
the Theta Club, which is accessible to students across the university.
Students and colleagues agree that Grand Valley benefits greatly by having
a professor like Assistant Professor Chapman with her seemingly endless
energy, remarkable talent for making history come alive, and broad
Professor Edward Cole joined the History Department faculty in 1971. He received recognition for his 40 years of service to Grand Valley State University at the Faculty Awards Convocation.
Professor Grace Coolidge received the 2012 Barbara Jordan Award from the Women’s Commission. The awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, March 13. Named to celebrate Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the award honors a person on campus who has been a long-time advocate of women, women's issues, and the Women and Gender Studies program, and who has bridged the gap between traditional academic fields and women's and gender studies.
Professor Jim Goode joined the History Department faculty in 1986. He received recognition for his 25 years of service to Grand Valley State University at the Faculty Awards Convocation.
Professor Kathleen Underwood received the Outstanding University Service Award at the annual Faculty Awards Convocation on February 2, 2012. Her citation reads:
As director of women and gender studies, Kathleen Underwood has had
more than enough to keep her occupied, but she continues to find
additional ways to serve the university. Those ways include her work on
the Faculty Senate; co-chairing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; serving on 11
search committees, on the Women’s Center Advisory Board, and on the
Brooks College Dean’s Advisory Committee; serving both as an Inclusion
Advocate and as a trainer in the Inclusion Advocate Program, and on the
Team Against Bias and the Intercollegiate Student Board. Beyond the
university she has chaired the Coalition for Western Women’s History and
serves as executive board member of the Governing Council of the
National Women’s Studies Association. What motivates her to be so
involved? She explains by quoting novelist Margery Allingham: it is
“having a nature which has to interfere.” Those who know Underwood’s
work say that she has changed the way we think about our systems and
processes. “She has worked hard to ensure that we think about issues
women face in the university and in our community, and she has helped
build systems that support diversity and inclusion.” And those who have
worked with her explain her success: “She has the vision and good humor
and creativity to help move us forward, even when the task before us
seems insurmountably complex.” As another colleague puts it, “Kathleen is
a model for all of us in the generosity, range, and effectiveness of all the
service she renders.”
Professor Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in March to host a conference on Michigan Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, who in World War II famously said that "politics stops at the water's edge."
Paul Murphy, The New Era: American Thought and Culture in the 1920s
(Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)
Patrick Fuliang Shan, “Becoming Loyal: General Xu Shiyou and Maoist
Regimentation,” American Journal of Chinese Studies, 18:2 (Fall 2011),
Professor Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin drafted the following nomination letter with input from the entire department:
Michelle Duram is, quite simply, the exemplar of the unsung hero. For more than two decades she has been the heart of the History Department. For its 45 faculty members, hundreds of students, office staff and student workers, she is an esteemed colleague, mentor, and friend.
In her official role as office coordinator she is, as one colleague noted, the “model of graciousness and efficiency,” who sets the standard for an exceptional work ethic and remaining calm under pressure, and is “always two steps ahead of solving any problem that comes across her desk.” History faculty and students benefit from Michelle’s proactive efforts to understand and implement evolving university policies. She has provided immeasurable support and assistance to all five department chairs she has worked with. One former unit head noted, “Colleagues know that they can count on Michelle to help them understand how to navigate university culture and policies.” Remarked another former unit head, “She was my sounding board, eyes and ears, and guide to all the ins and outs of the administration. I was a much better chair for having her as my office coordinator, and I expect that those who have occupied that position before and after I did would agree.” For example, when a colleague fell and shattered her leg, requiring surgery just before the beginning of term, Michelle not only assisted with preparing an alternative schedule—including the nearly miraculous feat of moving her Tuesday/Thursday classes to rooms closer to her office in MAK, but also worked with public safety to obtain a permit for handicapped parking.
As both the friendly face at the desk and invisible engine behind the Great Lakes History Conference and National History Day, the History Department’s two major public outreach events, Michelle Duram has worked tirelessly to secure the conference venues, assured lodging for out of town visitors, participated in the “lick and stick” for each conference mailing (in the pre-email days), coordinated with local historical organizations, answered countless phone calls from visiting scholars, handled all of the accounting work, and greeted two decades worth of conference visitors and National History Day participants with a welcoming smile. Visiting scholars returning to the conference thank her for support she quietly provided. Area middle and high school teachers remark on the seamless flow of National History Day events, no easy task considering that each year, hundreds of students participate. Michelle has trained generations of faculty conference coordinators, and passed on her knowledge to the department secretary and student workers who are now charged with supporting the conference.
Many members of our department have been involved over the years with the various area studies programs; these have included African-African American Studies, Latin American Studies, East Asian Studies and Middle East Studies. Back in the days when these programs had no assigned support staff, Michelle was often called on for assistance, and she willingly did whatever she could to support history faculty even though these efforts were clearly beyond her job description. She gave of her time and energy year after year to help those programs succeed.
Michelle Duram has mentored generations of work study students. Many of these students began as shy and unsure of themselves. She has coached them for job interviews, taught them how to run an office, improved their style of interaction on the phone and in person, listened to their troubles, and generally improved their confidence levels. As one colleague noted, “The best kind of mentoring is the kind that makes the mentee feel better about themselves, and Michelle manages to teach work related skills in such a positive way that the students come out of the interaction feeling better about who they are and what they can do.” Many of these work study students have come from disadvantaged backgrounds. To foster their success at GVSU and beyond, Michelle has also provided all kinds of material support -- everything from warm winter coats to interview clothes and graduation gowns. After leaving GVSU, these students have transitioned successfully into the workplace. They still keep in touch with Michelle, sharing their successes. And, she is still there for them, encouraging them onward. As one former work study student noted, “Michelle has helped me get through the hardships of being a first generation student and personally. I see her give the same love and support to stranger that she gives her children.”
Years before the university had inclusion and equity embedded in its mission, Michelle was an advocate for assuring that underrepresented students had an equal chance at success. For several summers, she found a place in the department for high school students who were part of GVSU’s Upward Bound Program, providing them training and helping them develop skills. Several of those students found work in the department when they became GVSU students and those who worked in other areas on campus remained in contact. Her recommendation meant a great deal to them.
The times that Michelle has led us in response to the crises and milestones of our colleagues’ lives are too many to number. She is the one who, quietly and behind the scenes, makes our social gatherings happen and sees to it that our most senior colleagues are properly celebrated as they move into retirement. She is at the heart of planning for gifts and meals and support, whether we are celebrating a birth or marriage or dealing with illness, death, or family crises. Noted one faculty member, “she makes actions that are quite generous and selfless seem ordinary and to be expected. I guess this is a form of hospitality – away of making people feel comfortable accepting others’ help.” In addition, it is always Michelle who heads up and supports any general drive the department does to support the campus and local community whether it's supporting food drives or warm clothes drives or local ministries of any kind, including the United Way.
Michelle has always been part of the GVSU crisis management team. In the 1990s, she was called upon as critical staff to keep the university running during the worst of storms. She actively pursues opportunities to support the campus community. She completed the two-day Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Basic Group Crisis Intervention course that was sponsored by the Counseling Center in July of 2008. This training helps non-mental health professionals learn to assist mental health professionals in times of crisis and disasters. Trained individuals like Michelle provide help in identifying and referring students who may be struggling and/or that would benefit from campus mental health services. The team members are valuable resources that complement the crisis services that are provided to the campus. Michelle, the program coordinator noted, has volunteered her time during several moments of crisis at the university.
Her indefatigable cheeriness and willingness to help others (faculty, students, and really anyone who stops by the department) is nonpareil. Students benefit from Michelle’s presence in so many ways: those who are feeling lost in their academic careers often end up first at her desk where they are sure to find a sympathetic ear and good advice about where to go next for information and guidance. One faculty member described her as the “vital force humanizing the university bureaucracy.” She refers students to supportive faculty with similar interests. Students who Michelle knows from the wider community stop by regularly in their careers at GV to share news and get pep talks at critical times. She has become an unofficial ambassador for studying abroad, encouraging students to make plans for travel they had never dreamed possible. Colleagues from across campus check in for news and a cheering conversation. Even President Emeritus Lubbers has been known to make sure that his path through Allendale passes by her desk.
As one colleague noted, “I have come to believe that Michelle is the primary reason that we have a collegial department. She is the center through which nearly everyone passes on a daily basis and because she radiates such a positive spirit, I believe that even those who are unhappy and frustrated cannot be unaffected by Michelle’s warmth and compassion.” She has provided a needle and thread to mend a job applicant’s torn skirt, welcomed new faculty with open arms, provided helpful advice (and impromptu childcare) for junior faculty juggling families and careers, and offered a listening ear for veteran faculty. As the current History unit head remarked, “Now that my office is next to hers, I witness on a daily basis the literally dozens of daily kindnesses that she gives to those who come in the door. Sometimes we focus on the heroism of the moment, but in Michelle's case I would say that her heroism rests in two-and-one-half decades of devoted service that has made countless lives the better and an entire department much stronger and happier.”
HISTORY DEPARTMENT WEBSITE: Please see our website for information about internships, career opportunities, course descriptions and guides to the HST and SST major. Much of this information is available at the "Student" button on the History Department website (http://www.gvsu.edu/history/).
Questions or Suggestions? We hope you find this newsletter, published in the fall and winter terms, interesting. Is there information you would like to see? What is missing? Please contact Professor Murphy at (email@example.com).