Department Highlights

History isn't static, and neither is the History and Political Studies Department. Catch up on the latest activities of the History and Political Studies Department faculty and students!

Students Attend Maryville College Conference



Graduates Get Prestigious Internships

Laura Andrews (’11) who is currently working on her Masters of Library and Information at University of Michigan will be working at the National Archives this summer for her internship. Rachel Lovelace (’10) is working on her Masters in Public History at Appalachian State and won a competitive internship at the Smithsonian for the summer. We are so proud of both of these women who have achieved such high honors and are developing their skills for service and professional life.

lovelace                 andrews
     Lovelace ('10)                           Andrews ('11)


History Department Goes on Walking Tour

Increasingly our students are enjoying downtown Chattanooga, so in October 2011, Dr. Mark Peach led an architectural walking tour of the business district. We saw Great Depression construction, Art Deco styles, unique retail spaces, government buildings and many hidden beauties. It was a gorgeous day and the students and staff were able to have light-hearted fun as well as learn a little about our small city. We followed it up with a great supper at 212 Market, which features local and sustainable fare.

New Political Studies Major

The History department will soon become the History and Political Studies Department with the addition of our new Global Policy and Service Studies major. Prof. Mindi Rahn has helped us develop an interdisciplinary political studies major that will enable our students to prepare for law, civil service, public policy, international relations, development and aid work. The major has many new classes, such as Human Rights and Sustainability Studies, to help students develop practical skills in serving the world. Since Southern has never had a political studies degree before, we think this will be a recruiting tool for new students as well as a great way to help fulfill Southern’s mission and the Great Commission.

Forest Hills Cemetery Walk

cemetary walk
History students and enthusiasts alike had the opportunity to take part in community service for Chattanooga on October 30, 2010. History Club members participated in the Forest Hills Annual Cemetery Walk. The walk involves Chattanooga residents dressing up as well-known and influential people that have made history in Chattanooga, from baseball players to actresses to Confederate generals. Southern Adventist University's presence there provided an atmosphere of being transported back in time for visitors of the cemetery. The students dressed in authentic costumes and strolled through the grounds, greeting people and painting a picture of life in centuries prior to this one. It was a great experience to spend a warm Sabbath afternoon amid the beautiful fall foliage and being a help to the historic community of Chattanooga. Barbara Chandler, the director of the cemetery, was glad to have our students and looks forward to future participation in years to come.

Vespers at Point Park
For the vespers program, Jim Jolly, an adjunct professor for the History Department, was gracious enough to speak to our students about the Civil War in Chattanooga and his experience with history throughout his lifetime. Jolly previously worked at Point Park and shared his experiences and knowledge of the park and the museum with the students. The museum boasts a large painting of the "Battle Above the Clouds" with beautiful details and an opportunity to make the Battle of Lookout Mountain come alive.
point park

A stop at the Craven House and a walking tour through Point Park allowed students to get a bird's eye view of the surrounding area with its rolling hills and winding Tennessee River. At the end of our time together, Professor Jolly spoke about his 10 year Bachelor's degree, which started with a major in Business and ended with a major in History. Though he had no religious background, a former Southern student witnessed to him by simply being herself. Jolly stressed the importance of recognizing your strengths and interest and trusting the Lord to lead you in the right direction. He now works at the Collegedale SDA church and is active on Southern's campus. It was great experience for Southern's History majors, minors, and enthusiasts. Hopefully this will be one of many memorable events this school year.

Professor Mindi Rahn Receives Award

During the commencement services on May 2, 2010, Kevin Brown, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, awarded Mindi Rahn the President's Award of Excellence for Commitment to Student Success.

Although Professor Rahn has only taught at Southern Adventist University for one year, she has already made a great impression on her students. When asked to nominate a professor for this award, students chose Rahn commended her for her consideration of them outside of classes, as she is often available to discuss difficulties that they are facing and pray with them. Expressing their appreciation for her "spiritually grounded" approach to teaching political science and international relations, students wrote that they value Rahn's sincere relationship with Christ and how "she points to Jesus as the only solution to the earth's problems."

When recognized for her outstanding commitment to her students, Rahn said, "Southern Adventist University is God's school. We certainly need the power of the Holy Spirit to lift up Jesus Christ and to send forth our students to run the world upside down for His glory."

painting          painting

History Department Community Service

Calvin Donaldson Elementary School was rated one of Hamilton County's most failed schools last year. A dedicated principal, committed teachers and federal grant money have combined to turn it around and head it on the path to successfully education children on the southside of Chattanooga. But it counts on volunteers to fill the gap between the needs and the goals of the administration.

Over twenty history majors and their friends took a few hours to make flashcards, paint the hallways and update the faculty lounge at Calvin Donaldson. Ten senior history majors participated, even though the full draft of their Research Methods paper was due the next day. Will Honeycutt, the volunteer coordinator, said, "We're so pleased to have students of this caliber spending their time here and we hope they will return someday to form relationships with the students--that't the real joy of Calvin Donaldson."


Election Party

Blue and red streamers, the smell of pizza, and the two presidential candidates welcomed students into the November 7 election party. As they watched the election results come in, students played fun president and election themed games like pin the tail on the donkey and pin the trunk on the elephant, Rock'em Sock'em election robots, and presidential trivia. Senators "Obama" and "McCain" were available for photos.

Costume Gala

costume gala

Civil War soldiers, pirates, knights all made an appearance at the History Club's costume gala on March 16. Students and faculty enjoyed fun entertainment and good food as they explained their costumes. Dr. Peach shared humorous bloopers from history exams that he found online, and Dr. Ben McArthur played "guess who I am," giving students hints as to which historical personage he represented.

The evening also featured a costume contest. Jennifer Seal won first place for her pirate costume, complete with her pet parrot.

"It was really fun," says Brian Gauthier, junior history and international studies major. "A lot of cool people dressed up in some wild costumes."

Lisa Diller added to her Distinguished Teaching Award of last spring the President's Award for Community Service, bestowed at the annual Christmas brunch in December. This was in recognition of her and Tommy's community involvement in their Chattanooga neighborhood.
Lisa also attended the National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar this past summer. Entitled "Religious Diversity and the Common Good," it was organized and run by Alan Wolfe, a prominent sociologist of American religion and politics.

Mark Peach spent a week in Washington, D.C. this past summer attending a seminar sponsored by the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Council of Independent colleges. Seminar participants studied in depth Homer's Odyssey, under the leadership of distinguished classicists from Harvard University and Rhodes College.

Dennis Pettibone attended the American Historical Association convention in Washington D.C. in January. He also gave a presentation on Martin Luther's view of the antichrist at the eschatology seminar held at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University last March.

Ben McArthur finally saw the results of some 15 years of effort when his book, The Man Who Was Rip Van Winkle: Joseph Jefferson and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre appeared from Yale University Press in October of 2007. Actually, Ben didn't begrudge any moment of the years spent in preparation. It gave him a chance to travel to London for research as well as to archives from Boston to New York to Mobile to San Francisco. He also received assistance from many wonderful people along the way. The book uses the life of a very famous stage comedian to examine nearly the entire reach of that century's drama.

The 2006-2007 academic year was a smooth one for the History Department. Six students graduated over the course of the year. They have headed out for a variety of careers, including journalism and teaching, or graduate work in law and Spanish (see Alumni Updates for details)

Students and faculty enjoyed several extracurricular events together. For our annual Community Service Day we helped construct a split rail fence at Chickamauga National Battlefield (part of an effort by the Park Service to make the battlefield look as much like it did in 1863 as possible). Students also provided a vespers at a local assisted living facility and helped with local elections in the fall. Late in the school year, Professor Diller arranged to have the Chattanooga imam (Islamic cleric) speak for a departmental assembly. It was an education for all involved to get the perspective of an Islamic fundamentalist.

President's Award for Teaching Excellence 2007

diller award
Lisa Diller, Ph.D., joined the history faculty in 2002 and has had a transforming effect on both her students and the department. She brings energy and enthusiasm to the classroom and sees her calling as helping students learn who they can become as a child of God. To foster student learning, she utilizes a variety of teaching strategies in the classroom and is always available to talk and counsel.

Dr. Diller is the faculty sponsor the History Club and STAND (a student organization promoting awareness about DARFUR). Her networking skills have helped organize a regional student history conference between the local Christian colleges and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga each year.

In recognition of her outstanding teaching and caring attitude toward students, Southern Adventist University presented Lisa Diller with the President's Award for Teaching Excellence.

ASDAH Conference

The triannual meeting of the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Historians (ASDAH) occurred over the final weekend of April 2007. All four Southern Adventist University history faculty, together with both history teachers from Collegedale Academy, and Bill Wohlers, dean of students at Southern and former member of our history faculty, made the short drive to Huntsville, Alabama, for the sessions. These gatherings are valuable both to strengthen the bonds of the Adventist historical community and to give an outlet for research that members have been pursuing.

Several faculty participated in various sessions. Dennis Pettibone gave a paper entitled "Seventh-day Adventists and the Religious Right: a Nineteenth-Century Perspective." Lisa Diller participated in a session on "Tolerance and Intolerance," her own contribution being entitled "Persecuting the Intolerant Papists: How England Got Its Act of Toleration." Ben McArthur organized and chaired a session where several historians reflected on how the study of history has influenced their recent careers in educational administration.

Department alumni were also involved in the program. Michael Campbell (2001), now the archivist at Loma Linda University, delivered a paper entitled "E. F. Albertsworth: an Adventist Historian." Two other history alumni were involved in a session dedicated to secondary history instruction. Stan Hobbs (1985), who teaches history at Atlanta Adventist Academy, and Jon Gless (2000), history instructor at La Sierra Academy, reflected on their work as educators. The session was chaired by Bill Wohlers and also included the dean of Adventist secondary history teachers, Olin Peach, father of our own Mark Peach.