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APSU plays host to Phi Alpha Theta Regional History Conference

The Dean of Austin Peay State University’s College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Dixie Webb, knows first-hand the possibilities for a student pursuing a degree in history.

The Dean of Austin Peay State University’s College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Dixie Webb, knows first-hand the possibilities for a student pursuing a degree in history.

Webb shared those thoughts with the over 130 attendees of the annual Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) Regional History Conference, held Feb. 28 on the campus of APSU. Founded in 1921, PAT exists to promote the study of history and is one of the largest honor societies in existence.

Students from universities across the region gathered at APSU, with Webb speaking on the value of a degree in history. Regardless of your ultimate career path, Webb said, a background in history can provide students with the tools necessary to succeed.

“In my welcome, I shared the range of opportunities study in history provides our graduates,” Webb said. “The critical thinking, solving complex problems that don’t have obvious solutions and oral and written communications skills that history majors are honing every semester are attributes employers want.

“I never imagined serving as a dean when I earned my degree in art history, but the same skills that made me successful in completing my degree have been a benefit to me as an administrator,” Webb added.

A number of APSU students presented their research during the event, addressing an array of topics from American colonial history to World War I and even a critique on the fathers of modern philosophy.

PAT student president Alexandria Poppendorf, currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Military History degree at APSU, presented her research, titled “Jacob Riis and the Movement against Childhood Poverty in Five Points New York.”

Poppendorf said the conference was an opportunity for her organization to display the fruits of their labor.

“The event was a real success and everything went exactly as we had hoped,” Poppendorf said. “For our members who presented papers at the conference, it is a wonderful academic experience for anyone who is interested in going into the history field.

“By working closely with the history department, and our partner organization, the APSU History Club, PAT has continually promoted events where our members have a chance to improve themselves as historians while also making new friends,” Poppendorf added. 

Non-student attendees included Dee Boaz, former editor of The Leaf-Chronicle. Boaz retired in 1994 as editor, after leading the organization to 135 state and national press awards.

Following her husband Sam’s death in 2013, Boaz created The Judge Sam E. Boaz History Endowment, a scholarship awarded to a junior or senior APSU history student pursuing a concentration in U.S. History – her late husband’s college major, and a subject he briefly taught at APSU.

“It was exciting to attend the conference and witness the quality and depth of the presentations, as well as the array of topics being explored,” Boaz said. “I was impressed with the maturity and seriousness of the presenters.

“I have no doubt establishing the scholarship was wise, and being at the conference just affirmed my decision,” Boaz said.

A total of 10 APSU students presented their research topics during the conference.

For more information, contact APSU associate professor of history and PAT advisor, Dr. Minoa Uffelman at uffelmanm@apsu.edu.

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Photo: (Standing, left to right) Minoa Uffelman, advisor, Deanna Carter, Jen Kaiser, Alex Poppendorf, Kaili Wessels, Devon Mindt, (sitting) Amanda Lawson and Larissa Daughtery.