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APSU’s Phi Alpha Theta students perform well at regional history conference

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Stephen Carls, professor and chair of the department of history at Union University, and Peeps go way back.

Besides just enjoying the spongy yellow candies, Carls can appreciate a bit of shared history as both Peeps and Union’s Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) history honor society chapter, which he has served as advisor for since 1983, were founded the same year: 1953.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Stephen Carls, professor and chair of the department of history at Union University, and Peeps go way back.

Besides just enjoying the spongy yellow candies, Carls can appreciate a bit of shared history as both Peeps and Union’s Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) history honor society chapter, which he has served as advisor for since 1983, were founded the same year: 1953.

When Austin Peay State University hosted the PAT regional conference in 2015, Carls, who also currently serves as PAT’s national president, thanked the coincidentally named hosts with a bit of a gag gift in the form of his favored confection.

“Last year, Stephen gave me a Peeps Cookbook as a thank you gift for hosting the conference,” Dr. Minoa Uffelman, assistant professor of history at APSU, said, noting the similarity between the candy and APSU’s namesake, former Tennessee governor Austin Peay.

One year later, Carls and Union University had their opportunity to host the national honor society’s annual regional conference – and both APSU and its students were eager to return Carl’s generosity.

Nine APSU representatives, including both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professors, attended the event, held Saturday, April 2 on the campus of Union University. More than 35 students from over 12 universities attended, with seven APSU students presenting papers and four conducting a workshop for those in attendance.

Two APSU students won awards for their research papers, including Alexandria Poppendorf, who won Best Graduate Student Paper for her work, titled “The Influence of Masculinity upon American Imperialism: A Study of the Spanish-American War, the Anti-Imperialist Movement, and the Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.” Priscilla Gutierrez also won an award for Undergraduate World History Paper for her her work, titled “Ravensbrück: The Women behind the Walls.”

Other APSU students presenting papers included Sara Alexander, “Confederate Women in the American Civil War: From Sacrifice to Oppression”; Robert Boone, “The Success and Failure of the Washington Naval Conference”; Theresa Watts, “The Role of Shining Brass and the Covert Operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos”; Larissa Dougherty, “Fire Support Base RIPCORD: The Forgotten Last Major Offensive of the Vietnam War”; and Katelynn DiStefano, “The Spanish Influenza: Its Effect on America and World War I.”

Deanna Carter, Courtney Beard, Larissa Dougherty and Poppendorf also presented a student engagement workshop during the event, “What Women Wore: A Collection of Women’s Clothing and Accessories from the Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Century.”

APSU professors Dr. David Snyder and Dr. Kelly Jones also assisted during the conference, commenting on panels of students from other universities.

“Participation in the PAT Regional Conference is one of the most important events Theta-Delta members participate in.  It is the culmination of students taking a class, writing a research paper, getting feedback from the professors to revise and improve the paper, and finally presenting the paper at the conference,” Uffelman said. “After the conference students can submit their papers to the student journal Theta-Delta for publication.”

As for APSU returning Carls’ generosity during their round of hosting in 2015, Uffelman said that the Clarksville contingent of history scholars did not forget the past.

“We knew that (Carls) has a running joke about Peeps, so this year, we gave him a basket of ‘Austin’ Peeps,” Uffelman said. “He loved it and so did we.”

For more information on the University’s PAT chapter, contact Uffelman at 931-221-7704.