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Department Doings

History isn't static, and neither is the History and Political Studies Department. To catch up on the latest activities of the History and Political Studies Department faculty and students, click on the links below.

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 ('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
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" withbeautiful details and an opportunity to make the Battle of Lookout Mountain come alive. 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 fourth our students to run the world upside down for His glory."

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 from 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

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
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.


Southern Hosts the Southeast Tennessee History Conference

On January 20, 2006, Southern's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, hosted the second annual Southeast Tennessee History Conference. Students and faculty from surrounding colleges and universities gathered in Miller Hall to hear their classmates and students present their research.

From Southern, Emily McArthur presented her paper "Money, Love, and Freedom: The Modern Operas of Brecht and Krenek;" Ramzy Berbawy presented his research on "Abolition and Feminism;" and Juli Gatling shared her work on "The Guy Who Messed Up Numbers? A Reassessment of Allan Pinkerton: 'The Eye That Never Sleeps.'" Students also enjoyed the time to network with their peers from other institutions.

The History Department is excited about having its students participate in the conference in the coming years.





History Majors Give Papers at Local Conferences

On February 21, 2005, Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee hosted the first Southeast Tennessee History Conference for undergraduate majors. Five Southern history majors gave papers at well-attended sessions. Juli Gatling, Alan Orrison, Emily McArthur, Katie Sheffield, and Matt Gilkey all presented papers they had written in the last two years. We all had so much fun that Southern is going to volunteer to host the event next year. We hope to include more of the local Christian colleges, if possible.

The regional Phi Alpha Theta student conference was at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, and four of the students (Matt, Juli, Alan, and Katie) gave papers there on February 25. This regional meeting had been moved to Friday instead of Saturday in order to be more hospitable to our students. Alan, Katie, and Matt all presented papers about the Civil War they had written for Research Methods class based on primary research. Juli gave a very popular paper on misrepresentations of violence in the Old West. Faculty members of colleges around the state gave comments on the students' papers and were very much impressed with their scholarly nature.

Lisa Clark Diller, faculty sponsor of Southern's Phi Alpha Theta chapter, reports that at least four different faculty complimented her separately on our students' performances. The Tennessee Tech organizer of the event, Dr. Susan Laningham, said, "We think we've discovered a jewel down there at Southern." Because of our fine student participation, future regional Phi Alpha Theta meetings will be held on Friday so we can continue to come.

The Southern students who participated all said it was a good experience—not as scary as they had expected. The other papers were interesting, and the discussion of the various topics following the presentations was lively. Our history majors hope to make this a tradition, and all of them valued the professionalizing experience.


Against the backdrop of war, occupation and (hopefully) nation building, the practice of history takes on added seriousness. The History Department of Southern attempts to present history as a means of helping students think through the issues of today. We encourage historical discussions to go beyond the classroom. To that end we held a luncheon discussion on an article that argued the existence of important cultural differences between Europe and America which purportedly explain their respective differences toward conflict. We likewise continue to facilitate student attendance at area lectures. With the upcoming presidential election, we hope to give students opportunity for local involvement.

Southern faculty had a wide-ranging array of scholarly activities. Two new courses were taught, which always means the chance for reading and reflection in new areas of scholarship. Years ago Floyd Greenleaf had regularly taught Latin American history, but after his departure for administration, the course died for lack of a teacher. We are pleased that Lisa Diller, with graduate coursework in the field, has revived Colonial Latin American history. It proved to be popular with students and will become a regular part of our offerings. In fall semester, Ben McArthur offered Introduction to Philosophy. We believe this is the first time in the history of Southern that such a course has been taught. Obviously long overdue, the course drew a good student enrollment. Rather than being a history of great thinkers (which Mark Peach does in Western Thought I and II), Introduction to Philosophy considers the major areas of philosophy, (e.g. ethics, epistemology, logic) and how philosophy can aid clear thinking.

History faculty continue to find ways to pursue their own scholarship even amidst daunting teaching and committee responsibilities. Dennis Pettibone completed chapter five of his manuscript “Adventists and the Religious Right.” He also wrote a book review for Seminary Studies and a couple of entries for the Encyclopedia of Ellen G. White. He attended the ASDAH conference. Mark Peach authored two reviews for German Studies Review, "The Challenge of Modernity and Heinrich Mann’s Novels" and "Essays: The Artist as Political Educator." He also attended the Society of Architectural Historians conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Lisa Diller found herself inundated with committee and speaking assignments in her second year of teaching. But she also had an active year of conferences, participating at the ASDAH and the American Historical Association convention in Chicago, as well as attending the Conference on the First Year Experience in Dallas. Between all of this she managed to squeeze in a week of research at the Jesuit Archives in London. Ben McArthur’s major accomplishment was finishing the full draft of his biography of Joseph Jefferson, a project that has accompanied him the past 12 years. Now comes the job of seeking a publisher. He also wrote an entry for the Encyclopedia of Ellen G. White. He read a paper at the Southern Humanities Conference in Chattanooga dealing with Christian higher education.

In February of 2004, Lisa Diller, Bret Mahoney, and Katie Sheffield earned $1000 for the History Club by acting as hole referees for the Alumni Golf Tournament. They presided over two holes, one of which had the tantalizing prospect of a new vehicle as a reward for a hole-in-one.

Although the vehicle remained safely out of reach of the golfers, History Department representatives thought the day was a success. The earnings were put to good use subsidizing a History Club outing to Georgia to visit a Van Gogh exhibit at the Atlanta Museum of Art.





History Students Train for the Marines

You may have noticed something different about Marty Maxwell, John Tilstra, and Timothy Shives, all history majors at Southern Adventist University. Perhaps it is a self-confident, military bearing or a tendency to bark orders during club meetings. These three men have one particularly unique thing in common: they are all Officer Candidates in the United States Marine Corps. Maxwell hopes to go into Force Reconnaissance, the elite group of Infantry ground fighters. Shives also plans to do "Force Recon" for a few years, then become a judicial advocate.Tilstra wants to become a Marine Aviator.

This summer, Maxwell (pictured at right), Tilstra, and Shives are attending Officer Candidate School, Platoon Leaders Class in Quantico, Virginia. It is a fiendishly challenging six-week course designed to weed through prospective Marine officers by putting them under extreme mental and physical duress to determine whether or not they have the strength necessary to lead other Marines. It is the most competitive training in the world. Candidates are required to perform at their physical maximum with a minimum of sleep and rest. Can't imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing? "I have always felt a duty to do something for my country," explains Maxwell, a senior history major, public relations minor. Shives cites the positive example of his father, a retired Marine Corps Captain in the Explosive Ordinance Devices division as an impetus along with his strong "appreciation of the best leadership training program ever."

Although OCS is dreaded for weeks beforehand and frequently referred to as the nearest thing to "hell on earth," "it has made me want to be an officer so much more," claims Maxwell. He and Shives are senior (second-year) OCS candidates. This is Tilstra's first year. The Marine Corps is the only organization in the world where the "grunt men" get to choose their own bosses. At OCS, future second lieutenants are trained and evaluated by sergeants, whom they will outrank upon graduation.

But why pick history as a preparatory degree? Shives, a senior history major, English minor, chose history because “warriors must understand and learn from the successes as well as the mistakes of military leaders in the past.” In his opinion, no other degree will give a future Marine Corps officer such a thorough understanding of the importance of a finely tuned or a clumsily guided military in the scope of world events than a B.A. in History.

Joining the Marine Corps as an officer candidate is a difficult process. It is not just anybody who gets the privilege of serving America in that capacity. The essential qualities the Marine Corps looks for in an officer, according to Maxwell, are “leadership, self-confidence, character, mental toughness, and a genuine concern for your Marines.” Shives adds “integrity, courage, commitment, and physical fitness."

When asked whether he would recommend the Marine Corps Officer Training Program to other Southern students, Shives (pictured at far right) said, “Definitely! Just tell me who!” Maxwell elaborated, “If you are motivated and serious about your country and your commitment, do it. But,” he added sententiously, “we don’t want trash.”

To learn more about becoming a Marine Corps Officer, visit If you want to see a little bit of hell on earth, go to and watch candidates in action. Think you could do it, too? Call or write the Marine Corps Recuiting Office in Nashville, Tennessee.


Dr. Diller Joins the History Department

Interrupted in the midst of grading essays, Dr. Lisa Clark Diller, the most recent addition to the History Department professorial staff, is still unbelievably upbeat and perky when asked long-winded questions about her life story. She has just successfully defended her dissertation, which deals with early modern England, her personal specialty.

She was, she says, "initially interested in Reformation history," but her adviser at the University of Chicago pushed her to consider the 17th century. She soon became fascinated with the "huge changes [during that time period] that had international effects."

Her two most valuable college classes that prepared her for graduate work were Senior Methods, which corresponds to Southern's Research Methods, because it forced her to write the paper that got her into graduate school, and a class that corresponds to our Ancient Classics because it showed her the "ideas that underlie Western thought."

Dr. Diller's initial impressions of Southern as a professor (she attended here as a student and graduated a Southern Scholar) are quite favorable. "I am really impressed with the quality of students," she says admiringly.

Outside the classroom, she enjoys following current events, reading historical whodunits, traveling with her husband, and spending time on the phone and in person with her family.


History Honor Students Inducted into Phi Alpha Theta

In an atmosphere shrouded in secrecy, candles burning dimly around their ears, six history majors were inducted into the Southern chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. The membership of Phi Alpha Theta is composed of students and faculty who have been elected to membership on the basis of excellence in the study and writing of history. It is highly democratic, however, in that any student of history may become a member simply by maintaining a high standard of work in his or her studies. All members of Phi Alpha Theta participate in the work and direction of the Society. Phi Alpha Theta president for the 2002-2003 school year is Timothy Shives.


Adventist Church's UN Rep Calls Turkmenistan Situation "Appalling"

October 25, 2002

Newly appointed UN liaison officer for the Adventist Church, Mindi Rahn (2002), identified the human rights situation in Turkemenistan as "appalling." Rahn was attending a meeting today organized by the Open Society Institute on Turkmenistan's gross human rights and religious freedom violations.

"Persecution even extends to the family members of those who dare to criticze the government," said Rahn. "The situation is truly appalling and is of great concern to all supporters of freedom and human rights. As one participant said, human rights in Turkmenistan are catastrophic."

Turkmen citizens, including the former foreign minister, testified to the bleakness of the current situation. Gross violations included the ban on political parties, ethnic and cultural organizations, detention, imprisonment, and even persecution of those who dared to voice their concerns, no freedom of the press (all foreign newspapers and banned), limitations of family visiting relatives, and a $50,000 fee imposed on those who want to wed a Turkmen citizen.

President Saparamurad Niyazov leads the country in what is often described as a dictatorship. Although the Turkemenistan Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the separation of the state from religious organizations, religious freedom in Turkemenistan is a casualty of the repressive nature of the regime.

In 1999, the only Seventh-day Adventist church in Turkemenistan was destroyed by the authorities, and Adventist church members have been intimidated and harassed.

Written by Viola Hughes.

UN Representative Visits Campus

Southern had the distinct privilege of hearing Jonathan Gallagher, the Seventh-day Adventist Church's representative to the United Nations, speak for Departmental Convocation on December 12, 2002.

Gallagher was introduced by Mindi Rahn, 2002 Southern graduate, who is currently working as an intern in his office. He spoke on his views concerning Adventist involvement at the UN and showed a video clip explaining the work he does. Gallagher deplored the amount of time it took for a Seventh-day Adventist presence to be established at the UN. "We have to have a voice at international gatherings," he said, also remarking that we should have been involved with the UN much earlier.
One of the most amazing things about his job, Gallagher said, is that "they are required to listen to me." He shared a story that happened recently in the Cape Verde Islands when some Seventh-day Adventists were put in prison on a false charge that they had desecrated a Catholic church.

Gallagher talked to the ambassador from Uganda, explained the situation, and, thankfully, the Adventists were released a short time afterward. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, he explained, is involved in responding to "immense problems." The reason the Church has a presence at the UN, he said, is because we "want to open doors to freedom."

Gallagher also gave the intern program a boost but warned that students applying for it must provide their own financial support. After his talk, the floor was opened for questions, and Gallagher was available in the banquet hall of the cafeteria to meet students.