In view of some of the recent achievements of my colleagues and our students, I think it is a good moment to write to our many students, alumni, and friends.
In 2002 the Clements Department of History at Southern Methodist University underwent a successful review conducted by a team of colleagues within the University as well as two from outside: James Axtell from the College of William and Mary and Merry Wiesner from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. The review spoke in glowing terms of “the manner in which the department values, respects, and implements its teaching mission” as well as “the quality and variety of the research produced and the involvement of the faculty in the life of the University.” In the past year there was further evidence of the wisdom of these judgments. The department received recognition for its commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching, its engagement in the life of the University, and the excellence of new publications.
On this last point, many will be interested in the current scholarly interests of my colleagues. By offering glimpses into the kinds of issues they are exploring, I hope to encourage a broader understanding of the richness of the department’s intellectual life and achievement and, most particularly, to remind our many audiences, at least in summary form, of what historians “do.” But it should be emphasized that our scholarly work is intimately and necessarily connected with our teaching, and it is this mutually fulfilling symbiosis for which we strive as individuals and as an intellectual community.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the generosity of the department’s benefactors. Our lives as teachers and scholars would be greatly reduced in scale and ambition without their support. The extraordinary gift of Governor William P. Clements enabled us to develop a doctoral program and a Center for Southwest Studies. The exceptional contributions of friends such as Ruth Sharp Altshuler, as well as others who have given generously for scholarships and research, have immeasurably enriched the lives of both faculty and students. To all of them we express our deepest gratitude.
P. Clements Department of History, PO Box 750176, Dallas TX
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