Volk -Student Introduction

Marian Schlotterbeck, former student of
Steven Volk, 2011 Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges
U.S. Professor of the Year

When Professor Volk called me in September to invite me to today's awards ceremony, he said, "I know you're living in Chile, and you're in the middle of researching your dissertation, so I understand if it's just not possible."

And I knew, as one of dozens of students that Steve has mentored and sent on to earn PhDs in history and Latin American studies, he certainly would not have a hard time replacing me.

And yet, since Steve IS the reason I'm doing all of those things today, traveling 5,000 miles seemed pretty trivial.

If there is one lesson that I've learned from Steve, it's to never be content with the way things are. This is true in his approach to mentoring as he pushes students to take on new challenges to teaching as he redesigns his courses yearly, and most profoundly, to being an agent for change.

More than innovative teaching about the past, what sets Steve apart is his ability to constantly make connections to the present-not by the old cliché that we must study the past to learn from our mistakes, but by giving students the analytical tools to recognize just how much the past continues to inform our present.

Whether fighting for human rights in Chile or immigration reform in Northeast Ohio, Steve Volk inspires students to become more engaged in the world around them. If history teaches us anything, it's that nothing is immutable and that what happened was not the only possibility.

If we want to be a part of making change possible, then we need to be attentive to the history we are living. To remind myself that the march happening outside my window is more important than the dissertation notes in front of me.

Dr. Volk's fidelity to his present has shaped the futures of so many students, including the one standing before you. It is a great honor to introduce Dr. Steven Volk and to recognize his lifetime of achievement.