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History Department

History Department Faculty

 

 

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Penelope Brownell

Christopher Cocoltcos

David Doellinger

Ashley Edlund

Max Geier, Current Department Chair

Patricia Goldsworthy-Bishop

Bau Hwa Sheieh

Kimberly Jensen

Erin Morris

John Rector

Narasingha (Ram) Sil

Elizabeth Swedo

 

For more faculty and contact information, use the Find People (Index/Search) feature of the WOU website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penelope Brownell

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Website

 

For more information contact Penelope Brownell at brownelp@wou.edu

 

David Doellinger

Adjunct Professor

Website

 

Professor David Doellinger teaches East European/Russian, modern German and world history at Western Oregon University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. His dissertation, entitled “From Prayers to Protests: The Impact of Religious-Based Dissent on the Emergence of Civil Society in Slovakia and the GDR,” examines how religious institutions supported initiatives critical of the state in Eastern Europe from the Second World War to the collapse of communism in 1989. His professional interests include East European social movements, twentieth-century European history, European intellectual history and the history of the Balkans.

As an undergraduate student at Valparaiso University, Professor Doellinger participated in a study abroad program in Cambridge, England. It was this experience in Europe that inspired his future studies in history: “The study abroad experience was an important turning point in my life. I enjoyed the challenge of encountering other cultures, and I gained a whole new perspective on the world and what I wanted to do with my life. I remember that I decided to change my major to history while backpacking in Switzerland.” During his semester abroad, Professor Doellinger had the chance to travel to Prague and Budapest, which sparked his interest in Eastern Europe. After earning his B.A., he accepted a position to teach English and history at a Gymnasium (high school) in Czechoslovakia during the 1992/1993 academic year. “It was an exciting time to be in East Europe. Midway through the academic year, I experienced the Velvet Divorce as Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. That year I also realized how much I enjoyed teaching.” At the end of the school year he returned to the United States to begin graduate school.

For more information contact Professor Doellinger at doellind@wou.edu

 

Frank Fromherz

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Website

 

For more information contact Frank Fromherz at fromherf@wou.edu

 

Max Geier

Department Head

Website

My decision to pursue a career in history followed much experimentation in other fields and experiences. History was not my first choice for a profession, but it was my last and wisest career decision. Students considering a change of careers or majors might learn from my experience that it is never too late to become a scholar. Like many Americans of my generation, I was raised in a family of displaced farmers who had to seek new opportunities in other professions and trades. As our family scattered from coast-to-coast, I spent much of my life moving from place-to-place seeking opportunity, community, and an education. At one time or another I was a farm laborer, construction worker, ranch hand, and dairy worker. I lived in five different western states and countless cities and towns. I handed out change and repaired slot machines in Nevada casinos, rented cars to harried travelers at Los Angeles International Airport, sold Thunderbird to midnight panhandlers at a beachfront 7-11 store, delivered the Wall Street Journal in high-rise office buildings with only night janitors for company, and stared down the wrong end of a gun muzzle during four armed robberies as a store clerk and banker.

These life experiences also paid for my education at seven different colleges and universities, and they influenced my decision to major in history and to specialize in social and environmental themes in the history of the North American West. I was a pre-med biology major at UCLA for two years before transferring to Humboldt State University, where I majored in forestry for two years. After a fire destroyed the Forestry Building at HSU, forest engineering courses moved to Founders Hall, where the history and geography departments were located, and I began to spend more time with faculty and students in those disciplines. Those people inspired me to change my major to history, but I transferred to California State University, Northridge to complete my undergraduate degree in a region where there were enough employment prospects to pay for my college expenses. In between, I spent several years picking up credits as a part-time student at other colleges while working full-time to put money in the kitty.

The history faculty at CSU Northridge opened my eyes to new career opportunities, and inspired me to become a teacher. After one year in the MAT program at UC Davis, however, I ran out of funding and jobs during the Reagan recession, and I returned to Los Angeles in search of employment. I completed an MA in History at CSUN while working full time as a bank operations supervisor. I next enrolled in the doctoral program at Washington State University, which offered an excellent package of graduate funding, health benefits, and professional training in Public History. My dissertation research was a comparative history of community development in two western regions of the United States and Canada. I am particularly interested in the community networks that link rural and urban people in the North American West. My undergraduate training in the natural and life sciences also prompted my interest in the environmental implications of community development. I particularly enjoy exploring these themes in discussion-oriented, upper-division courses, and it is the focus of my current research exploring the history of agrarian and urban development in the mid-Willamette Valley.

I enjoy working with students who are just discovering their interest in historical research, and I encourage history majors to consider advanced studies in graduate school. I encourage undergraduate students to seek out quality graduate programs that offer teaching assistantships and other funding. Toward that end, I encourage students to build professional relationships with faculty advisors, so that we can more effectively support academic and professional goals beyond Western Oregon University.

 For more information contact Professor Geier at geierm@wou.edu

 

Patricia Goldsworthy-Bishop

Assistant Professor

Website

 

For more information contact Patricia Goldsworthy-Bishop at doellind@wou.edu

 

Bau Hwa Sheieh

Professor

Website

 

Bau Hwa Sheieh was born in Taiwan and came to the United States after completing her Master’s degree. She attended the University of Illinois at Champaign–Urbana, where she obtained her Ph.D. Dr. Sheieh received her Ph.D. in East Asian history and modern European history. Her special area of interest is gender and culture in Chinese history. She would like to introduce more courses on Eastern Asian history at WOU. Her teaching philosophy varies from course levels and the size of the classes. In her general courses, in addition to lecture, she likes to provide students with films and slides. In her upper division courses, she expects student preparation, participation in discussion and student oral presentations are usually required.

This information was obtained from an interview conducted by Lindsay Morey in October 1999.
For more information contact sheiehb@wou.edu.

 

Kimberly Jensen

Professor

Website

 

Professor Jensen is Professor of History at Western Oregon University . She received her Ph.D. in U.S. History, Women in U.S. History, and European History from the University of Iowa in 1992. Her area of interest is in Women's and Gender History (with a specialty in women and World War I). She chose this as her area of specialty for a few different reasons. When she was an undergraduate she had no idea what she wanted to do, so her first few years in school her major changed several times and she took an array of different courses. After a semester in France, her decision was made, she was "hooked" on history. Professor Jensen's attitude toward higher education began much earlier in her life. She grew up in Colorado and her parents always encouraged education, and she was always interested in women's history because her grandmother, with whom she had a close relationship, campaigned for woman suffrage. The influence of the feminist movement was an important factor in Professor Jensen's decision to study women's history. She began teaching during graduate school and came to Western in 1993. In her courses she uses Internet technology including listservs and the World Wide Web. She has developed many courses in Gender Studies and U.S. history and a new class on History and the Internet. As Professor Jensen looks to the future she has new courses in mind such as conflict resolution and war and society. She would also like to keep developing her U.S. History classes.

Professor Jensen is competing a book manuscript on Women and World War I.

This information was obtained from an interview conducted by Josh Shaw in October 1999.
For more information contact Professor Jensen at jenseki@wou.edu.

 

Erin Morris

NTT Instructor

 

For more information contact Erin Morris at morrise@wou.edu

 

John Rector

Professor

Website

My father was a history major and always viewed issues through a historical viewpoint. He loved to talk about the history books he read. Obviously he communicated his love to his children because all three of his sons were history majors, though I was the only one to make history a career.

Three years in the Peace Corps from 1965-68 awoke my interest in understanding the history and culture of Latin America . Later in graduate school I learned about the economic development concerns of social scientists. I was converted to the belief that "social engineering" could modernize Latin America .

Living in Chile during the Salvador Allende government made me much more skeptical about the role of social scientists in the modernization process. Not only did the "experts" disagree, but society as a whole was violently divided. The tragic end of democracy in Chile , followed by economic shock treatment caused enormous suffering. Unfortunately, social scientists often contributed to Chile 's problems while believing they were solving them.

In my research I studied a period when Chile had been more successful in solving its economic and political problems. I offer insight into how government policies had shaped an environment which encouraged development with less social cost. Some of results of my finding have been published in Chilean historical journals and incorporated into Chilean literature on nineteenth-century economic development. Greenwood Press published my History of Chile in 2003 and Palgrave Macmillian brought out a paperback edition in 2005.

I feel fortunate to have taught both in the United States and in Latin America . For ten years I was a member of the faculty of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico (1977-1987). I also was a Fulbright Professor in Chile during the 1983-84 academic year. Both of these experiences have given me an opportunity experience how students learn in other cultures as well as to develop close ties with Puerto Rican and Chilean faculty. Also, in 2006 I taught in the Rosario, Argentina study abroad program sponsored by WOU and the NCSA consortium. 

Western Oregon University offers the greatest curricular freedom I have ever experienced. I am able to teach a wide variety of courses with very little oversight. This is the meaning of academic freedom. I also have had the opportunity at Western to see students use their history education in their careers and to enrich their lives.

I am particularly gratified to have outstanding colleagues in the Western History Department and Social Science Division. Few people outside the university appreciate the creativity and dedication of these scholars. The History faculty has been particularly innovative in curriculum in new geographical and ethnic areas. These courses have greatly strengthened our program. Also, the increased emphasis on research, both for the students and the faculty, has enriched the creative process. Our history majors' seminar papers are the most concrete indication of the high quality of work being done in the Department.

I like the responsibility for education to be with the student when possible. I love discussion classes...when students prepare adequately. Also, I enjoy integrating literature in my Latin American history courses. Authors help students approach the living culture and awaken their historical sensibility. In the end, the classroom is the best opportunity we have to develop the historical imagination.

For more information contact Professor Rector at rectorj@wou.edu.

 

Narasingha (Ram) Sil

Professor Emeritus

Website

 

I studied at the University of Calcutta , India , where I earned a Masters Degree in Modern History. I also have earned Masters Degrees in History and Education from the University of Oregon . My latest degree also came from the University of Oregon , where I earned a Ph.D. in History. My father encouraged me to pursue an education (he was a lawyer in truth, if not in practice) and I fell in love with History. I have two areas of special interest: the political culture of 16th century England and the cultural history of 19th century India .

Some courses I have developed and am developing are: Constitutional History of England , Seminar in Tudor England , History of West Africa , South Asian Nationalism, History of the Modern Middle East . My teaching style includes lecture and writing (lots of writing). In my seminars, though, I like to mix the lecture with class discussion. I believe that communication through writing is one of the most important assets a college student can learn.

John Waldron conducted an interview with Professor Sil in October 1999.
For more information, contact Professor Sil at siln@wou.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

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