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Phi Alpha Theta is an international honor society in history. It was organized at the University of Arkansas in 1921, and now includes more than 750 local chapters. Rockford University’s local chapter, Alpha Delta Alpha, was started in 1987 and includes dozens of members. Once inducted, membership is good for life.
The membership of Phi Alpha Theta is composed of students and faculty who have been elected on the basis of excellence in the study and writing of history. Any student of history–not just those majoring in history–may become a member simply by maintaining a high standard of work in his/her studies. In addition, all members participate in the work and direction of the Society. Ceremonies are held most years to induct new members who meet the basic requirements (completed at least 12 semester hours in History with a GPA of at least 3.1 in History, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and be in the top 35% of the class) and whose work is considered exceptional.
Phi Alpha Theta promotes the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning among historians in a variety of ways as described on their Web site at www.phialphatheta.org. It seeks to bring students and faculty together both intellectually and socially for mutual understanding and encouragement in their common interest in the study of history. Membership in Phi Alpha Theta is an asset to any resume, and satisfies one requirement for some GS-7 level occupations in the Federal government.
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Established by the History Department, this award is given to the senior history major with the highest GPA.
For more information on scholarships relevant to this department, please visit the Academic Catalog (pdf).
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A degree in history is a portal to pursue work in many directions. As with any liberal arts major, history prepares students for careers requiring good writing, organizational and analytic skills–essential to any career whether in the private, public or non-profit sector. Opportunities in the field include archival, museum or preservation careers, but further directions in law, education or business are also enhanced by a liberal arts degree with a major in history. Some fields require graduate degrees, but for many business positions, a solid base in the skills of a historian–particularly analysis and writing–is the ticket to entering almost any field imagined.
Want to be a historian? Through connections to various local history institutions, students interested in doing an internship for credit have a wide range of opportunities. In recent years, students have worked at Midway Village and Museum Center, Rockford’s Ethnic Heritage Museum, and Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. Students must meet minimum hour and grade point requirements set by the University.
Archival, preservation, exhibit, education or curatorial work allows students to experience the nitty-gritty of historical careers. Some of the activities that qualify for history credit include identification, cataloguing, or repair of historical objects; researching and building exhibit displays; teaching after-school historical programs; or organizing historical collections. Contact Dr. Catherine Forslund at CForslund@rockford.edu.
Amanda Becker ’05 is currently teaching U.S. and World History at Auburn High School in Rockford, Ill. In just her second year of teaching, Amanda was a Golden Apple Award Nominee. About her experience at Rockford University, she said, “Teachers were great. I could visit or e-mail any of my professors with questions any time they were available. They encouraged me to dive deeper into my studies as well. I never thought that I would be learning the Greek language until Dr. Martin’s classes, but now I’ve been studying it for the past three years. If you’re an education major, Rockford University’s program will prepare you for the classroom. The education department gave me the tools I needed in order to succeed in the classroom with multiple techniques, self evaluations, and strict standards.”
Blair Lemons ’05 teaches special education at Harlem High School and is the head freshman baseball coach there. “Having professors who valued their students as individuals, gave me a feeling of importance as a student. Instructors were readily available for any questions or concerns and brought an enthusiasm to the classroom that made class enjoyable.”
Dave Oberg ’91, History MA ’93 and ’98 (Historical Administration concentration from Northern Illinois University) has spent 17 years working in museums in various capacities. At present, he is the Executive Director of the Geneva History Center in Geneva, Ill. Dave “was a proud participant in the Honors Program.” He said that the Rockford University “broad liberal arts education gives me greater context when making decisions. In addition, the strong emphasis on writing skills has served me well in publishing and in writing grants to support various museum endeavors. The small class size at Rockford University allowed strong focus on presentation skills as well, which has served me well in my career.”
Joshua Parker ’04 who earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. In looking back at his time as a Rockford student, Josh said, “My ways of thinking about the world around me were informed by the discipline of history. I became more critical of current events, relating them to occurrences of the past. I understood more about the impact that an individual, a movement, or a technology can have on culture, society, and the world.” His continued work in history focuses “on topics of privilege, oppression, and social justice, which continue to have immense importance on our existence today.”
Mark Pedowitz ’74 went to John Marshall Law School in Chicago after completion of his degree in History at Rockford University. He began his career as an attorney at MCA, Inc. and rose up the ranks within the entertainment industry. Pedowitz joined ABC in August 1991 as senior vice president, where he negotiated deals to acquire programming for all aspects of the network’s broadcasting. He continued his upward climb and was named president of ABC Studios in 2004 where he now oversees creative and business operations for network, cable, mobile and broadband outlets. Pedowitz has been instrumental in expanding the studio’s brand identity as a haven for filmmakers for both broadcast and cable networks with an impressive slate of series, including international hit franchises Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Lost, and breakout successes Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters. In addition, he currently sits on the BMI Board of Directors, the Board of the Foundation for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), and has served on the Executive Board of both the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS).
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The History Department offers majors with either the B.A. or B.S. degree. We also have a special track for student’s seeking to major in History while pursuing Secondary Education certification. We offer a range of internships and an honor’s degree option for appropriate students. We also offer minors. Please see the catalog for additional information.
Rockford University’s History Department offers students the opportunity to either major or minor in History. Degree requirements for these programs can be found in the Academic Catalog (pdf).
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Historians are always reinterpreting the past, largely because our present day concerns continue to change. History is neither stagnant nor dull. It is not based on memorization but on interpretation and analysis. Understanding history involves integrating ideas and economics as well as a consideration of the influence of individuals and social forces.
The student of history has to make judgments about a broad range of values and motivations. While our subject matter is the past, the principal goal of the Rockford University History Department is to encourage students to write well and to read and think critically to more fully interact with their present and future worlds.
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