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A Message from the Director:
My first year as director of the Nathan and Jeannette Miller Center has been a real delight. I have been able to host distinguished scholars from around the world and to discuss their work and their ideas with them. At the same time, I have had the chance to interact with faculty and students in shaping our program and planning individual events. This year’s theme of “Empire Revisited” proved remarkably suggestive, leading for example to a day-long undergraduate symposium planned in conjunction with two other departments and bringing together students in three campus courses with an internationally known distinguished keynote speaker.
Much of the intellectual life of our campus happens, of course, in the classroom, and the Miller Center puts special effort into providing funds and coordination to help faculty members bring guest speakers into their classes. This lets students meet, and interact directly with, those who were personally involved in great historical events. And the chance to meet and debate with an author helps students better understand and internalize the books they are reading.
If the Center’s first task has been to bring scholars to the College Park campus, I have found that the Center can also make a significant contribution to the educational experience of both graduate and undergraduate students. Thus, we have hosted a regular meeting for Ph.D. candidates facing the rigors of writing a thesis, we have sponsored seminars on teaching and writing, and we have begun to explore how the Center can help improve undergraduate teaching in history under a special grant from the University. Through its prize program for undergraduate papers, the Center has recognized the excellent work done in our Department.
The Center aims also to provide an informal meeting place for faculty and students interested in history. Whether it is a group meeting to discuss a recent documentary movie about immigration into the US or a film about the philosopher Hannah Arendt, the aim always is to encourage communication and discussion of the serieous issues that shape the study of history.
I look forward to new initiatives in the 2014-15 academic year, and invite everyone to stop by and make use of the Center’s programs and services.