The Search for a History Professor: Honoring the College’s Commitment Toward an Anti-Racist Reality

The search for a new contemporary European history professor is coming to a close. After thoroughly examining each candidate for their strengths and weaknesses, a decision will be made on who could enrich the Colorado College community best.

According to the history department’s Academic Administrative Asssitant Joanna Popiel, the search for the candidates began last semester and has involved the History Council in its decision. “Sandi Wong, Alan Townsend, and Paul Buckley interviewed the three selected candidates in January,” said Popiel. “From there, all three gave job talks, teaching demos, and visited history classes. This week, each candidate will conclude the process with a formal dinner with the department.” Professor Tip Ragan was able to get many students from his Block 5 course to attend the talks and give feedback on the candidates.

Illustration by Lo Wall

Within the wake of the anti-racism review on campus, the search has caused a little controversy. “Hiring a European candidate can be seriously tricky, especially in a time where students are serious about considering the negative influence of the West on mainstream culture [hence the removal of the West In Time as an all college requirement],” said Eric Dallesasse ’20, who is also a member of the history council. “But I think there’s value in knowing about Europe and its influences on the changing world.” 

 “I don’t believe studying Europe or making sure there’s constantly a European historian is inherently bad or racist,” said  Dallesasse. “It’s when we learn specifically that Europe is the epicenter of all of history that it becomes problematic. It’s going to be interesting to take a class with whoever the history department hires because I wonder how they will confront conflicts of race, culture, and depicting historical ‘truth’.”

“The history department just hired its first African history specialist in a while, so it’s also going to be interesting how those two truths will conflict and possibly be incongruous in some areas,” Dallesasse concluded.

According to insiderhired.com, the amount of job opportunities for historians with doctorates are on the decline. However, so are the number of people who have history doctorates. “The growth in job opportunities outside academe suggests that the [American Historical Association’s] continuing efforts to prepare historians for a diverse range of careers is seeing some success,” according to the website, optimistic about the opportunities available in the field of study.  

The decision will be finalized on Feb. 8.

Erica Williams

Erica Williams

Erica has been reporting for the Catalyst since her freshman year. She is a history-poly-sci and REMs double major. Interestingly, her grandfather fixed Einstein's furnace.

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