Movin’ on Up—To the East Side (of Campus)

By James Marten, Professor and Department Chair

Although we’re not moving to a “deluxe apartment in the sky”—if you get that reference, you may be a baby boomer*–we are, indeed, settling into nicer and more comfortable accommodations in the completely refurbished Sensenbrenner Hall, the “old law school,” on the East edge of campus at 11th and Wisconsin.  If you were ever in the old law school—forget what you think it looks like.  The 1924 building was gutted; there are a few original features—stained glass windows, original tile on the stairs—but it’s mainly a nice mix of metal, wood, and glass throughout.  Many faculty offices have eleven-foot ceilings, and light bounces through the offices and hallways.  And our administrative assistant, Jolene Kreisler, has windows in her office for the first time!

Sensenbrenner Hall in 1923.

Sensenbrenner Hall in 1923.

The 1960s and 1970s additions to Sensenbrenner were torn down and replaced by a sleek, smaller addition containing elevators, stairs, restrooms, and wide hallways. The entire east side of the new building is glass, so we have a great view of downtown. The Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences occupy the first two levels; the main history office is on the third level, with faculty offices on the third and fourth levels. TAs occupy a mezzanine above the fourth level with, get this, a skylight that also provides light in a lounge area on the fourth level. We’ll provide pictures of the space after we get settled and hang some pictures, but feel free to stop by for tour.

Click here for more information about the project and an artist’s rendition of the new and improved Sensenbrenner.

But in addition to the big move, it’s also accurate to say that the theme for the History Department in 2013-2014 is movement—upward, forward, and, sadly, away.  Here are some highlights.

Two of our colleagues, Alison Clark Efford and Michael Wert, were promoted to associate professor with tenure.


Five colleagues published books (click on the title to go to the publisher’s website):

Michael Donoghue, Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone

John Krugler, Creating Old World Wisconsin: The Struggle to Build an Outdoor History Museum of Ethnic Architecture

James Marten, America’s Corporal: James Tanner in War and Peace

Peter Staudenmaier, Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era

Michael Wert, Meiji Restoration Losers: Memory and Tokugawa Supporters in Modern Japan


Altogether, members of the history department gave thirty-seven papers or lectures in seven countries and at least eleven states and were awarded grants to pursue research in Rome (Lezlie Knox, with an National Endowment for the Humanities Grant), Germany (Peter Staudenmaier), Washington, DC (also Peter), Chicago (Laura Matthew, with an NEH grant), and Philadelphia (Alison Efford).

Honors poured down on the department:

Daniel Meissner became the twelfth member of the History Department since 1965 to receive the Award for Teaching Excellence. Current members of the department who have also earned the award are John Krugler, Phil Naylor, Julius Ruff, and Steve Avella. Click here to read a transcript of Dan’s remarks at the Pere Marquette Banquet, where the awards were announced.

Lezlie Knox and Michael Donoghue were both finalists for the Excellence in Faculty Advising award from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Laura Matthew received the year-long Way-Klingler Sabbatical Award, while Peter Staudenmaier received the Way-Klingler Young Scholar Award, which pays for a semester-sabbatical and provides research funding.  Laura’s book, Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala, received two major books awards: the Howard Cline Memorial Prize from the Conference on Latin American History and the Murdo MacLeod Prize from the Latin American and Caribbean Section of Southern Historical Association

Of course, as in most years, the journeys we historians undertake also included departures: three doctoral students completed their degrees: Jeffrey Ramsey (whose dissertation was directed by Thomas Jablonsky) and McKayla Sutton and Timothy Lay (whose dissertations were both directed by Tim McMahon).

Finally, we say goodbye to two junior colleagues: Andrew Kahrl is leaving after his fifth year at Marquette to take a joint appointment with the history department and the Carter G. Woodson Center at the University of Virginia, while Sarah Bond, who just finished her second year at MU, will join the classics faculty at the University of Iowa.  We wish them well and appreciate their work at MU during their time here.

Look for more news of the department and for pictures of our new digs in the annual newsletter, which should be sent out via email by mid-summer.

*Of course, this is a lyric from the theme song of the 1970s sit-com The Jeffersons.  Listen to the entire song here.


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