History Department Mission

The Department of History exists to develop the learning skills of enrolled students and impart to them an informed awareness of the past, to encourage the professional development of its faculty, and to contribute the professional expertise of its faculty in service to the academy and its constituents.

The Past of Our Present

Every day adds another to the past. Each individual is surrounded by the results of the past. The Washburn history department provides numerous opportunities to examine the past and acquire the skills which turn the past into usable historical understanding.  Courses scheduled each semester frame the past in several ways. The 100-level, introductory courses survey civilizations--world and American. They introduce students to cultural patterns distinctive to their inhabitants. The upper division courses focus more tightly on themes, eras and peoples, challenging students to master more complex sources and develop higher levels of sophisticated analyses.

Each scheduled history course has a common objective, namely that students enrolled are engaged in "Doing History." Each course challenges students to imagine what happened in the past by examining records of human activity and interpreting them to produce a coherent explanation of times and peoples different from our own. Students in Washburn history courses are not passive recipients of information about the past, but active reconstructors of the past. They sharpen their skills in reading the record, critically thinking about what they find, and drawing conclusions.

The professors who teach history at Washburn are experienced, professional men and women who know their subject and are successful at teaching it. Their approaches and their course requirements vary with their styles, supporting the diversity of learning methods among students. 

Student Learning Outcomes

History Majors at Washburn University, upon completion of the program, will be able to:

  • Recognize the broadest patterns of United States and World History;
  • Demonstrate ability to master critical skills of the historical discipline;
  • Apply the understanding of the broad patterns of history to an in-depth examination of significant historical issues for three cultural areas identified by the department (United States, Europe, Non-Western);
  • Demonstrated mastery of the discipline's scholarship by: putting specific research focus in the context of larger historical patterns; identifying an appropriate research project, and with it both the primary and secondary sources needed to carry it through; reading and assessing both of these kinds of sources in terms of the focused research project; and, conceptualizing, organizing, and writing a scholarly paper presenting the result of this scholarship

In order to carry out its educational responsibilities, the department will maintain the highest possible standards of teaching, scholarship and service, and assure every faculty member complete academic freedom.

Composition of Mission: To fulfill the mission of the department, teaching constitutes sixty percent intellectual activities of the faculty as a body, scholarship counts for twenty percent, and service contributes the balance. While each faculty member is expected to perform in each area, each individual will mix the functions to varying degrees from year to year and over the course of a career at Washburn.

  • Teaching: History faculty are expected to prepare courses which support the department's curriculum and impart to students the transforming and liberating power of imagining the past and interpreting its development.
  • Scholarship: History faculty are expected to engage in research to remain current in their respective fields and with the appropriate research tools needed within them.
  • Service: History faculty are expected to supply professional expertise as both professors and historians.
  • Selection: Whenever the curriculum and student enrollment levels indicate that additional full time faculty is needed, the department will recommend to dean that a search be undertaken and detail the process whereby it will recommend selection. If authorized, applicants will be considered by the department's search committee, which will invite one or more to campus for interview and a guest lecture before making a recommendation for selection.
  • Retention: The professional performance of probationary faculty will be assessed at the close of the fall semester following the procedures used for tenured faculty. Based on its findings, the department will recommend the retention or non-retention to the dean. The department chairpersons will counsel the probationer concerning progress toward promotion and tenure, in the event the recommendation is to retain.
  • Promotion: Advancement in academic rank is the means whereby progressive professional accomplishments are recognized by the university. The department and the discipline provide the professional context for demonstrating achievement.
  • Tenure: At the conclusion of a successful probationary period, the department recommends tenure for faculty to assure the academic freedom and economic security of each faculty member in contributing to the mission of the department.  

Professional Development Procedures: Assessment of the professional performance of each faculty in the department is the means whereby intellectual quality is assured and professional potential is developed.

  1. Professional performance of faculty: faculty professional achievement is defined in terms of teaching, scholarship and service. Review of professional performance is the means whereby the department stands accountable for fulfilling its mission and demonstrates how it implements guidelines for retention, compensation, promotion and tenure. Consideration of performance begins with a self-description designed to inform colleagues about one's professional activities. Review is not aimed at channeling a faculty member's activities along restrictive lines, but rather is intended to support and encourage professional development and to assure the widest possible measure of professional achievement.
    1. In early February of each academic year, full time faculty will provide the chairperson a written report of professional attainments, commonly referred to as a performance portfolio, delineating and interpreting teaching, scholarly and service activities for the previous calendar year. The chair may consider additional information of a professional nature in interpreting the professional activity of each faculty member. The chair will formally review and informally advise each faculty concerning their professional performance. For the purpose of recommending compensation, the chair will collate the activities of all faculty by category (teaching 60%, scholarship 20% and service 20%), and assign individuals a proportion of department performance in terms of the degree of professional distinction and contribution to the mission of the department. Individual faculty may ask the faculty as a body to review the chairperson's appraisal with the idea of encouraging reconsideration prior to forwarding recommendations to the dean.
    2. In the course of preparing individual and department annual reports at the close of the spring semester, the faculty will develop program plans for the coming academic year whereby the effectiveness of the department's program can be assessed. The chair will take pains to assure that the sum of individual teaching, scholarship and service fulfills the mission of the department for the following year.
  2. Faculty Teaching Functions: Assessment of teaching includes student perceptions, peer review, advising load and quality, and student performance.
    1. Student perceptions of teaching provide valuable insights into the teaching effectiveness of individual instructors. In annually reporting on professional activity faculty will submit evidence of student perceptions, including standardized data derived from official student assessment instruments. Individual faculty are expected to receive favorable responses to questions of teaching effectiveness from 75% of student respondents.
    2. Peer review of teaching should be understood as a way of accomplishing two interrelated goals. It is first a way in which members of the department can improve their teaching through observation of colleagues and through their colleagues constructive criticism. It is also a way of assessing teaching performance.
      1. Evaluation incidents: each faculty member is expected to seek peer assessment of his or peer teaching effectiveness by encouraging classroom observation and collegial discussions of teaching assumptions and approaches. Procedures for including peer commentary are informal and left to the discretion of individual faculty. However, considerations of faculty status require extensive peer commentary and documentation, whereas annual compensation recommendations may be occasional, but no less than twice during a program cycle.
      2. Evaluation criteria: the colleagues are to evaluate the member's teaching performance according to the standards of excellence which they recognize in the discipline. Although individual members will consider some criteria to have more significance than others, the following are the criteria for evaluation:
        1. The instructor should be well-prepared for class at all times.
        2. Well-prepared instructors have syllabi that clearly spell out the course requirements and cover the material specified in the course description. They assign reading materials that is appropriate for the level and the discipline and reflects scholarly excellence. They return student papers in a timely manner. They will seek to remain as current in the field as time and circumstances permit.
        3. The instructor should keep the class focused on learning.
        4. Instructors who keep the class focused on learning deliver well-organized, clear lectures in an interesting manner. They lead discussions that have a clear direction. They do not make their classes forums for their personal beliefs on extraneous matters. They provide students with opportunities to express themselves. As part of creating a classroom atmosphere conducive to learning, they treat their students with respect and refrain from making derogatory comments based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, or any other irrelevant criteria. They do not allow student comments of this order to go unchallenged.
        5. The instructor should provide the students with opportunities to demonstrate that they have mastered the materials.
        6. Exams should be of a degree of difficulty that is appropriate to the level and subject. They should cover the material specified in the syllabus. They should focus on major points rather than arcane bits of data. The method of examination should be explained prior to the day of the exam. Unless the syllabus warns of surprise quizzes, students should be told in advance of exams and given sufficient time to prepare for them. Term papers, book reviews, out-of-class essays, and projects should all be clearly explained when the assignments are given. Sufficient time should be given for their completion. The degree of difficulty of a given assignment should be appropriate for the level of the course.
        7. The instructor is to conduct herself or himself according to the appropriate ethical and professional standards.
        8. Ethical and professional instructors will meet their classes regularly unless matters beyond their control prevent this. They will evaluate students fairly according to the work performed and not allow extraneous matters such as race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity to be a consideration. They will make themselves available for regular and sufficient office hours and appointments. They will be willing to advise a normal number of departmental majors.
        9. The above discussion of standards should in no way be understood as a demand for uniformity in teaching approaches. Colleagues are expected to recognize the member's wide range of discretion in selecting materials, formulating assignments, and developing teaching styles. Colleagues are expected to recognize that there are many different ways of being a superior teacher. Colleagues are obliged to ask members to explain why they have chosen a particular text, mode of examination, teaching style, etc. But they are also to respect the choices members make, provide that those choices fall within the appropriate standards of excellence.
        10. Colleagues' responsibilities: the responsibilities of the colleagues begin with the assumption that they will follow the highest standards of professional conduct. There is not area in which a faculty's ego is more sensitive than in its teaching ability. There are few other professions which require individuals to perform twelve hours a week in front of what is at time a hostile audience. Any unprofessional remark diminishes members in the eyes of their students and colleagues (both within and outside of the department) and is ultimately destructive of the goals of peer review. The colleagues' responsibilities include a diligent reading of the materials which the member makes available. All materials should be read with care and diligence, event hose which are far removed form a colleague's field of experience. The colleagues should make every effort to attend a reasonable number of the member's classes.
      3. Assessment of teaching effectiveness will also include: approaches to advising majors, student performance based on instructional supervision, and reassigned activity from teaching to other professional duties.
  3. Faculty Scholarship Functions: Scholarly activity is based on its contribution to knowledge and is reflected in a faculty member's reputation among peers. An important measure of its quality are products intended for presentations to the judgments of external professional peers.
    1. Categories of scholarly products include but are not limited to academic grants and fellowships; defined research projects; papers delivered before local, regional and national professional associations; publications of articles and books.
  4. Faculty Service Functions: History faculty fulfill their service obligations by assuming responsibility for one or more department service functions; by duty on one or more colleague or university committees; by performing work for the history profession; and/or by contributing their professional expertise to public activities.
    1. Department Service Functions: Individual faculty will undertake one or more of the following departmental functions.
      1. Minor Advisor. Supervise records of minor declarations, authorize minor curriculum, recruit minors, recommend for graduation.
      2. Secondary Social Studies Teaching Certification. Prepare regular NCATE report, advise majors seeking social studies certification, supervise student teachers, teach ED 366, promote social studies teaching recruitment.
      3. History Day. Promote district-wide competition, liaison with social studies teachers throughout district, plan and product annual district competition at Washburn, represent district in state-wide planning, publicize the activity and solicit external funds to finance the competition.
      4. Scholarship Coordinator. Follow closely the endowments for the Bright/Bader, Haywood, and Danker scholarships, encourage their augmentation, recommend candidates to the faculty, schedule recognition, maintain plaques, survey potential graduates for department honors eligibility, schedule Rehkopf award, recruit submissions, appoint jurors, award the prize, raise money.
      5. Phi Alpha Theta. Sponsor, program, initiate.
      6. Lectures. Recruit, schedule, publicize and produce annual Gleed lecture; liaison with Lincoln Club, recruit, schedule, publicize and produce the Harman-Lincoln lecture, including occasional Fulbright scholars.
      7. College Faculty Council. Represent the department and report.
      8. University Library. Represent the department, maintain book orders, report.
      9. Collegial Support. Service in support of department or institutional activities.
      10. College and University Service Functions: Faculty serving in an elective or appointed capacity will have their service assessed on the scope of the work involved.
      11. Professional Service: The department has a duty to contribute to academic professions in a service capacity. This may be fulfilled in a variety of ways, such as membership recruitment, organization officers, conference planners and facilitators, and project participants.
  5. Community Projects: The department recognizes that the faculty who make their professional expertise available to public affairs are an important intellectual resource for the common good and contribute to public support for higher education in general the Washburn University in particular. 

Department Administration

The Chairperson is responsible to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the orderly conduct of department activities and to the faculty for developing department policies and recommendations concerning faculty status and compensation.

  1. Chairperson duties
    1. Professional Development. This includes counseling faculty on individual performance objectives; scheduling peer review; rendering performance assessment; selection of adjuncts; recommending salary enhancements annually to reflect professional performance of each faculty, and instigating replacement for faculty positions.
    2. Curriculum Coordinator. This entails facilitating the approval of new courses, editing annual editions of the university catalog, scheduling semester classes, producing enrollment guides, authorizing CLEP/APO requests, overseeing HI 397-99 staffing, placement and grade submissions.
    3. Program Development. Oversee implementation of general education function; conduct program review, draft review proposals, conduct collegial discussions; and propose annual program and equipment budget requests.
    4. Advising Coordinator. Supervise records of major declarations, assign advisors, promote major recruitment, plan and schedule regular activities for Commons area.
    5. External Constituent Relations. Maintain department alumni mailing; develop list of history friends in the greater Topeka community; edit and distribute annual department newsletter; raise money.
    6. History Partnerships. Liaison with the Center for Kansas Studies, Kansas State Historical Society, Shawnee County Historical Society, Historic Topeka, Inc., National Park Service, Mid America History Conference, Kansas History Teachers Association, other professional societies, and develop department board of visitors.
    7. Supervise classified staff, student staff and student tutors.
  2. Chairperson's review and term of office
    • College of Arts and Sciences policies provide that department chairpersons be annually reviewed by individual faculty within the department and the dean. Faculty perceptions of the administration of the department guide the dean in making annual reappointments of the chair.
      1. Within the History Department, the chairperson's term in office is considered to be a commitment of five years on the part of the department to the chair and vice versa. Term renewal is subject to the willingness of the chair to serve another term and to the recommendation of the tenures members of the faculty acting as a body that the incumbent's service be continued.
        1. At the beginning of the final semester of a chair's term, the incumbent will indicate to the faculty a desire to resign at the end of the term or continue for another term.
        2. Should the incumbent's decision be to end service as chair, the senior faculty in terms of tenure will convene the tenured members of the department to make recommendations to the dean concerning filling the position.
        3. Should the incumbent chairperson desire another term, the senior faculty in terms of tenure will convene the tenured members of the department, excluding the incumbent, to review the service of the chair and make a recommendation to the dean concerning continuing the incumbent in office. Should the position be negative, the senior faculty will confer with the incumbent and discuss the basis for the recommendation. The incumbent may appeal the recommendation to the dean, preliminary to the dean's final determination.
      2. The primary consideration in each of these situations is the preservation of collegiality in the operations of the department.

GET IN TOUCH WITH History Department

History Department
Henderson Learning center
3rd Floor, Room 311
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

Phone & Email
Ph: 785.670.2060

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