Thank you for taking some time with the Spring 2021 newsletter from The University of Alabama Department of History. We all know that in these pandemic times, significant challenges still lie ahead for each of us individually and for all of us collectively as a department, a university, and a nation. But as I write, we appear to be seeing the prospect for real change in the weeks and months to come, and I am sure we all hope that the growing availability of vaccinations will mean a return to some semblance of normality by the fall semester. The efforts of our faculty, instructors, graduate teaching assistants, and administrative staff to give our students the best possible educational experience this academic year have been phenomenal. But nothing can truly replace the energy and buzz of a full classroom of students absorbed in an engaging lecture or discussing questions and material that can open minds and change worldviews.
Yet even under the constraints of COVID-19, the Department continues to demonstrate itself a powerhouse of research and teaching, with faculty publishing books and articles that advance the field and offering classes whose enrollments are nearly filled to capacity at every level. Moreover, our students continue to show why we believe they are some of UA’s finest. As we move toward the end of the semester and begin to see Honors Day and graduation on the horizon, it is worth pausing to acknowledge some remarkable accomplishments. Undergraduate history majors were recently awarded the Randall Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award and the John Fraser Ramsey Award that is one of the University’s highest undergraduate honors. Graduate students in history recently won the Best Dissertation Award from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as both the College and University awards for best teaching by a doctoral candidate. That our graduate program has received its largest applicant pool in years is, in no small measure, a tribute to the growing national reputation that comes from having a strong faculty and a stellar group of degree recipients alike.
We have begun showcasing some of our many wonderful undergraduate and graduate students in a weekly “spotlight” series on the departmental Facebook page, which we hope you find a valuable addition to the usual array of departmental news and events found there.
Follow the Department through our Twitter feed, Instagram page, and the department website, and please do not hesitate to contact us and stay in touch. We would especially love to hear from department alums interested in speaking to undergraduates, as we know many of you have used your History majors as the foundation of brilliant careers and can provide valuable advice for students searching for opportunities and direction as they confront a challenging landscape. As always, we want you to be part of our future as we continue to explore our past!