Rick Herrera (PhD, 1998) describes the several phases of his unusual career.
My path has been a bit of an adventure. In 1998, I’d hoped to land a position at a liberal arts college that focused on teaching—I wasn’t all that interested in researching or writing. I began at Texas Lutheran University in 1999, where, because of my previous experience as an army officer and sales representative, I was soon made chair as an untenured assistant professor. The old saw about leading academics and herding cats is true. After two years I moved on to Mount Union College, where I was tenured and later served as director of honors until December 2005. I grew tired of devoting most of my time to teaching; I’d discovered that I wanted to research and write after all and needed a bit of a career change. In January 2006, I left Mount Union and took a job on the Staff Ride Team, Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (Staff rides are used to teach leadership and decision making through historical and terrain analysis while walking and discussing the course of a battle on the actual terrain.) Over the next six years I travelled to over one hundred battlefields in the United States, France, Italy, and the Netherlands where, I researched, designed, and led staff rides for audiences ranging from presidential appointees to generals and soldiers down through noncommissioned officers. I enjoyed staff rides, but wanted to return to an academic environment. In January 2012, I accepted a position at the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), CGSC, where I teach graduate-level courses on operational art to field-grade officers from the army, sister services, allied forces, and other US government agencies. For more on the SAMS, go to http://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/cgsc/sams.
I’m now back in the classroom as an associate professor of military history, where I’m enjoying teaching some of the very brightest officers in the armed forces and getting the opportunity to research and write. I’ve published several articles and chapters over the past few years. My first book, For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861, was recently published by New York University Press. I’m now busy researching and writing my second book, an examination of an important, but little studies aspect of the Valley Forge encampment. Recently, I spent February 2015 at the David Library of the American Revolution as a residential research fellow and have since been awarded a Society of the Cincinnati Scholars’ Grant, both in support of the ongoing book project. This summer I’ll be in England and Scotland doing further research. In addition to teaching and writing, I’ve also been active in the Society for Military History where I serve as a trustee of the organization. I’m also a consultant for the Leadership Institute, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Seventeen years ago, I had no idea that my career would follow the path that it has. I’m glad it did.
Ricardo A. Herrera received his PhD from MU in 1998; his dissertation was “Guarantors of Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier and the Military Ethos of Republicanism, 1775-1861,” directed by Robert P. Hay. A revised version of that dissertation has recently been published by NYU Press as For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861.