101 Read Hall
Faculty & Staff
Alumni & Friends
The University of Missouri department of History has a reputation for excellence, both on the MU campus and beyond. The stellar teaching record of its faculty has been recognized numerous times by awards such as the campus-wide William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence–nine past and present History faculty members have received this prestigious teaching award. History faculty have also been recognized for outstanding teaching by winning over twenty-three different teaching awards, including the College of Arts and Science Purple Chalk Award which is student-generated.
The department averages between 350-450 undergraduate history majors. We nurture these aspiring young historians by, first of all, providing them with expert advising, delivered by a professional, full-time, advisor. Our majors are given a wide range of courses in American, European, and Developing World history. Required capstone and writing intensive courses provide the opportunity for our students to interact closely with faculty members and to develop their research and writing skills. Beyond the classroom, the department offers its majors the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working as interns in any one of our nine internship programs that range from the University of Missouri Archives to the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri Library.
Our graduate students come to us from a broad cross-section of colleges and universities. They are attracted to our MA and PhD programs by the reputation of our faculty, many of whom have been the recipients of prestigious research grant awards from, among others, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The National Science Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research/Study Program. In addition, our faculty members have published an impressive array of books and articles, a number of which have won prestigious awards from the American Historical Association and other professional organizations. Our graduate students work closely with their faculty advisors as they develop and write theses and dissertations on a wide range of topics. One significant measure of the success of our graduate program is our placement record. In recent years, over fifty of our PhD recipients have found teaching position in colleges and universities throughout the country.
By using the resources provided by this web site, potential undergraduate students can browse our course offerings; view the requirements for a major in history and explore the scholarship opportunities. Those interested in pursuing a graduate degree (MA or PhD), might wish to start with the home pages of individual faculty to learn about their respective teaching and research interests. There is also a listing of the various fields in which the department offers graduate degrees. One can also generate a description of degree requirements and application forms for graduate study in history.
As a Land Grant institution, the University of Missouri offers the citizens of the state a valuable source of information, in this case, pertaining to history. The faculty home pages and research field pages can be used to identify and contact individual faculty members
We especially welcome our alumni/ae and friends of the department and ask that you explore our web site further. There you will find news of fellow alums as well as past issues of the department newsletter. If you wish, you can be included on our e-mail list to receive the newsletter as it appears in approximately three-month intervals.
Pease contact us and let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you.
Russ Zguta, Chair
Victor R.S. McFarland is a historian of the United States and the World, and will begin teaching at Missouri in fall 2014. He earned his B.A. from Stanford University and his M.A. and M.Phil. degrees from Yale University. Victor is currently completing his Ph.D. at Yale, and is also serving as a predoctoral fellow with the University of Virginia's Miller Center. During the 2013-14 academic year, he will be a postdoctoral fellow with the Dickey Center at Dartmouth College. Victor’s dissertation examines the oil crisis of the 1970s and its consequences for the American relationship with the Arab world. This project is based on research conducted in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. At Missouri, Victor will teach courses on topics including American history, U.S. foreign relations, energy and natural resources, and the modern Middle East
Steven Watts, professor of history, is the 2013 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award. One of the most prestigious awards on campus, this honor recognizes faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities, and service to the university and to humankind, while exemplifying the principles and ideals of Thomas Jefferson. Watts is the sole recipient of this award in the University of Missouri four-campus system and will receive a $10,000 cash prize. He will receive the award from MU President Tim Wolfe at the Board of Curators meeting on June 13, 2013.
“Professor Watts, not unlike Thomas Jefferson, is a firm believer in the dissemination of knowledge, without regard to social, economic, cultural, or other barriers—egalitarianism in the truest sense,” said Russell Zguta, chair of the history department, in the letter nominating Watts for the award.
Watts specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of the United States. He has published articles and essays in top journals, and his biographies of some of the 20th century's most-influential cultural figures have been reviewed in major media venues throughout the country. The common theme in his books on Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Hugh Hefner, and most recently, Dale Carnegie, is how American history is related to consumer capitalism in a culture obsessed with self-fulfillment, entertainment, and leisure. His work has led to appearances on PBS, History Channel, CNBC, BBC Worldwide, and others.
Watts is also known for his superior teaching abilities. Since 1984, he has taught the survey of American history course that averages 600 students. He also teaches upper-division courses on American cultural history, and graduate seminars in historiography and cultural history. During his career, he has won two distinguished teaching prizes: the Provost's Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award (1988) and The William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence (1995).
“Like Jefferson, Professor Watts has had an abiding interest in and lifelong commitment to public higher education, as his own educational background and professional career attest,” said Zguta.
Watts first came to MU 43 years ago as an undergraduate student. In fact, his first history course was taught by Zguta—the person who nominated him for this award. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1975, he left Columbia briefly to attend the University of Virginia for his master’s degree before returning to MU for his doctorate.
“They can’t get rid of me and receiving this award isn’t helping,” joked Watts after the award announcement.
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Department of History ... College of Arts and Science ... University of Missouri-Columbia