Luther College Chips

Edward Tebbenhoff and Jacqueline Wilkie to retire

Professor+of+History+Jackie+Wilkie+helps+Lorelayn+Coto+%28%2721%29+with+research+for+Paideia.
Professor of History Jackie Wilkie helps Lorelayn Coto ('21) with research for Paideia.

Professor of History Jackie Wilkie helps Lorelayn Coto ('21) with research for Paideia.

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips

Professor of History Jackie Wilkie helps Lorelayn Coto ('21) with research for Paideia.

Martel DenHartog, Staff Writer

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Professor of History Jackie Wilkie and Associate Professor of History Edward Tebbenhoff will retire after the spring 2018 semester. The history department is planning on hiring at least one new tenure track professor as a replacement.

During her 30 years at Luther, Wilkie served many different roles such as working to found the women’s studies program, serving as Paideia Director, leading study-abroad courses, and collaborating with local middle schools and high schools in coordinating National History Day projects.

“This was the kind of place where all that difference was a positive,” Wilkie said. “I’ve done a lot of different things at Luther College over the course of 30 years, and that’s good, because there’s lots of flexibility.”

Tebbenhoff also reflected fondly on his time at Luther, where he helped develop the museum studies department, studied history, and encouraged students to pursue their interests beyond college.

“I love being a historian; it’s the best job for me in the world,” Tebbenhoff said. “Teaching is one of the best parts. You get to talk about ideas with pretty smart people, what could be better?”

After the end of the academic year, Wilkie and Tebbenhoff plan to stay in Decorah. Wilkie will teach summer courses at Luther as well as the Paideia 450 course, Making Decision for U.S. Schools in Hawaii in January 2019. Tebbenhoff plans to continue researching early American history.

 

“We’ll still be here, just not full time in the classroom,” Wilkie said. “It will still be a collegial group, I’m sure of that.”

Wilkie and Tebbenhoff have has a positive influence on Assistant Professor of History of Anna Peterson personally. 

“[Wilkie] has a lot of institutional knowledge and passion for this place,” Peterson said. “She’s been a great resource for any question that I have or helping think about things from a meta level. And [Tebbenhoff] has probably been the biggest mentor to me. He’s always been very generous with his time and advice.”

Anika Nelson (’19) commented on her experience in Tebbenhoff’s April 1865: The Civil War Ended class.

“I feel like he was a great professor to have my first year of college,” Nelson said. “He really helped by showing me how to write papers for college. He always gave great lectures, and he was a real joy to have in class.”

Martel Den Hartog (‘19) | Chips
Associate Professor of History Ed Tebbenhoff leads a discussion during class.

Associate Professor of History Victoria Christman explained the effect Wilkie and Tebbenhoff’s research has on the department.

“Their work focuses on different areas of history and during their time at Luther each of them has put their energy into a different area of the life of the campus,” Victoria Christman said. “Together, these two professors have over 40 years of experience at Luther College, and that is an awful lot of institutional history to lose in one shot.”

According to Associate Professor of history Robert Christman, Wilkie and Tebbenhoff played an important role in his time at Luther.

“[Wilkie and Tebbenhoff] were really the two key players influencing and helping me to adjust to Luther and understand how it worked,” Robert Christman said.

Wilkie and Tebbenhoff are the majority of American history professors at Luther and their retirement may affect future students.

“We value a strong American history program here because that’s what our students are interested in,” Robert Christman said. 

The department is currently undergoing a search for a jointly appointed tenure-track position in Africana Studies and History. The individual hired for this position will fill some of the U.S. history courses and potentially teach first-year Paideia courses. The history department also has approval to hire additional part-time employees to teach U.S. history courses in order to meet the requirements for history and education majors.

The loss of two American history professors could pose challenges for education students to meet the history course requirements for state licensure, but according to Assistant Professor of Education Dean Vesperman, education faculty are not worried.

“We have an amazing relationship with the history department,” Vesperman said. “We know the history department has talked about [state requirements]. They have a plan and they understand. The one question would be, how many sections are they going to offer? If they reduce the number of sections, it would just make the classes harder to get into.”

Head of the History Department and Associate Professor of History Brian Caton said authorization of additional searches for tenure-track faculty is in the hands of the administration.

“If we’re not authorized to do it next year, then we will probably continue to hire part-time faculty to ensure that we have adequate courses in U.S. history until such time that we are authorized to do another [tenure-track] search,” Caton said.

The history department, along with the education and Africana studies departments are continuing to look for the best way to proceed.

“We’re making plans for the transition and trying ensure that we do service to the other departments that we have relationships with, to the student body, to the college, and to the legacy that [Tebbenhoff] and [Wilkie] are leaving behind,” Peterson said.

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