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News from the University of Rochester Department of History

A Word from the Chair

As I write these words, we are busily preparing for the start of the academic year, an opening unlike any we have ever experienced. Students from “red states” are gradually arriving on campus, submitting to a COVID-19 test, and settling in for a two-week quarantine. Our department’s physical space in Rush Rhees has re-opened, after the entire library’s closure in March. Department faculty are working on the best ways to teach our students in these trying circumstances, whether online or in a socially-distanced face-to-face format, as a number of us have elected to do. Despite the stresses, there is much to celebrate in the department. We graduated a record number of PhDs in 2020, and two of those students, Jonathan Strassfeld and Andrew Kless, were awarded national prizes for their dissertations in their respective fields of study. Faculty members Ruben Flores and Pablo Sierra-Silva were awarded tenure earlier this summer. Dedicated alumni, working together with department faculty, raised over $3000 in a short few weeks to help with graduate students’ emergency expenses over the summer. And our undergraduates continue to inspire us with their positive, upbeat attitudes. So, behind my UR-color-coordinated mask (a handmade gift from my honors thesis student for this fall!), there’s a smile on my face, as I feel all the excitement that builds every August in anticipation of welcoming new and returning students into our classrooms—and our hearts.

-Professor Laura Smoller, Department Chair

Important update regarding Meliora Weekend 2020

Read the important update on the status of Meliora Weekend 2020 from Senior Vice President for University Advancement, Thomas J. Farrell. (University photo / John Smillie)

Read here
News from History Alumni

Barry Bergen (BA ‘78) retired in 2017 after 25 years as a Professor of History at Gallaudet University. In January, he and his husband Jim Schank, relocated permanently to Lisbon, Portugal. Despite the coronavirus lockdown, in April they celebrated 5 years of legal marriage, and in June they celebrated 23 years together. They are very happy to be living in Portugal.

Rochelle Goldberg Ruth (PhD ’76) ​is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. Her most recent article “Russia: The Great War and Women’s Political Rights,” was published in The Palgrave Handbook of Women’s Political Rights. Her review essay “Becoming Communist: Ideals, Dreams, and Nightmares,” was published in Aspasia, vol. 13. In addition, Left on Pearl, the film on which she worked as Executive Producer, was screened this year at film festivals across the world. She is currently a Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard, and a Research Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center.

Suzanne Gehring Schnittman (PhD ’87) has released a book on August 4 titled, Provocative Mothers and Their Precocious Daughters: 19th Century Women's Rights Leaders.

David Wyman (BA ’15) graduated from the Simon Business School’s Executive MBA program in 2020 and represented the University as a recipient of the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education Committee (RACCE) Outstanding Adult Student Award. David and two other students from UR were chosen by RACCE. The recipients are adult students who have excelled academically while successfully combining their college education with other commitments to family, job, career, and service to the community.

Bernard Zimmerman (BA ’67) has retired as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in San Francisco and is now living in You Bet, CA. He has published Ghost Towns of Nevada County, which contains histories of 18 County ghost towns, two maps and 31 photographs and other images. It is available as a free download from Apple Books or as a PDF from the publisher You Bet Press.

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Upcoming Events

History Workshop: Robert Westbrook

September 11, 2020

More information here.

Department Events

Under social distancing guidelines issued by the University, New York State, and the CDC, the Department of History will be reevaluating the status of normally scheduled events. Updates will be posted on our Facebook page when they become available.

Coronavirus Update

Keep up to date on the University of Rochester's COVID-19 updates and resources here.

Thank you

Earlier this summer, to help graduate students in need during the pandemic, the Department of History in conjunction with the Advancement office started the History Graduate Student Emergency Fund initiative.  We would like to thank everyone who donated and supported our graduate students.

Gifts to the Department of History help sustain a challenging academic program, promote learning opportunities, and attract the best students and faculty. Your contributions make our department ever better!

Make a gift
University of Rochester Department of History

364 Rush Rhees Library, PO Box 270070 

Rochester, NY 14627 United States


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