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Additional awards recognize student workers in unique categories


In addition to the award presented to Cassie Alfheim, Monday’s award ceremony on campus recognized five more student workers for outstanding achievement. They are:

Kimberly Schwarzenbart – Most Unique Contribution in a Student Employment Position: A senior Business Administration major from Reedsburg, Schwarzenbart worked as a marketing assistant for the University Union. A talented artist, she used her creative abilities to market specific programming in the University Union and elsewhere on campus.
Bradley Drephal – Outstanding Demonstration of Reliability in a Student Employment Position: A senior History major from Appleton, Drephal worked as a building manager for the University Union. He was especially motivated by customer satisfaction and ensuring great customer experience.
Sara Tupper – Outstanding Demonstration of Professionalism in a Student Employment Position: A senior Business Administration major from Stoughton, Tupper used her employment opportunity in the Dean of Students and Student Life area to gain professional experience and preparation for a post-graduate career.
Maximus Nimmo – Outstanding Demonstration of Initiative in a Student Employment Position: The senior Business Administration major from Janesville, served as a lead intramural supervisor at the Kress Events Center. His demonstrated leadership allowed him to make lifetime connections.
Olyvia Kuchta – Outstanding Demonstration of Quality of Work in a Student Employment Position: The senior Psychology major from Green Bay served as the office assistant for the Human Development/Information and Computing Science units. She credits the experience to strengthening her interpersonal and leadership skills while opening doors to establish relationships with faculty and staff.

Text: Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete’s acceptance speech for UW System teacher of the year

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UW-Green Bay Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete shared a lesson on the value of history and the humanities with the UW System Board of Regents when he received the 2015 Regents Teaching Excellence Award at the board’s meeting in Waukesha on April 10.

In his acceptance speech, Aldrete (shown with students in the file photo above, during an outdoor demonstration of ancient battle formations) told the Regents he doesn’t employ textbooks in his Greek and Roman history classes, preferring his students read and analyze original texts by people of the times. He went on to describe the three fundamental skills he seeks to encourage in his students — organizing and assessing information, communicating effectively and thinking critically — and why they’re essential in any career. He also urged the board never to lose sight of the core values of history and the humanities and the role of universities as places where questions are asked.

The full text of Aldrete’s prepared remarks:

I would like to thank the Board of Regents for honoring me with this award. I am very grateful and humbled to be selected out of so many fine teachers. I’d also like to express my appreciation to all the students that I have shared a classroom with over the last 20 years at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as well as my colleagues there in the departments of History and Humanistic Studies. Working in such an environment and with such terrific students and dedicated faculty has been an immensely gratifying experience. Finally, I would like to offer my deepest thanks to my wife, Alicia. She is my collaborator in the classroom, the co-author of several books with me, and my partner in all things.

I’m an ancient historian, and I’d like to begin my brief comments by sharing a bit of trivia about antiquity and the discipline of history itself. The very first time that the word history was used with its current definition of “a record of past events” was by the Greek writer Herodotus, who lived over 2,000 years ago. In the opening sentence of his famous account of the wars between Greece and Persia, he stated, “These are the histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus which he writes in the hope of preserving the memory of what human beings have done.”

However, the Greek word that he uses here, “historia,” did not originally mean “a record of the past.” Prior to Herodotus’ usage in this sentence, “historia” had simply meant “asking questions.” I have always been very strongly attracted to this original meaning of history as an act of asking questions, and, in fact, view it as being squarely at the core of my philosophy, both of teaching and of doing research. To me, the essence of teaching is the methodology pioneered by another famous person from the ancient world, Socrates, whose pedagogy consisted entirely of posing questions to his students and getting them to formulate and defend arguments.

I employ no textbooks in my classes. In all of them, the reading consists entirely of material written by the actual people that we are studying. And when I read these ancient texts with my students, we are not passively absorbing information: we actively engage the texts, we aggressively interrogate them, we rip them apart and look both for the meanings that the author intended to convey as well as those he or she did not, we consider issues of bias, and think about what sources the author had to draw upon, and we always ask, can we believe what the author says, and why, or why not.

When examining historical events, it is not a matter of memorizing what happened, but rather exploring WHY things happened, trying to understand how earlier events influenced later ones. We look at history not as an inevitable succession of discrete events, but rather as a complex network of interrelated paths taken and not taken. Discussion, argument, and analysis play a key role in these investigations, and I always try to encourage lively debate in the classroom.

In this endeavor, content is important, and the students naturally tend to think of classes in terms of what factual information they have learned, but more important is the skills that I hope they acquire in the course of this process. There are three fundamental sets of skills that I try to emphasize in all classes: First, information management: how to collect, organize, and assess information. Second, communication skills: how to express yourself clearly and persuasively, both in speech and in writing. Third, critical thinking: developing the habit of constantly evaluating information according to rigorous, objective standards, and being open to re-assessing your own beliefs according to those same standards.

These are skills that are essential and useful in ANY career, not just ones directly related to history or the humanities, and even more than that, these are valuable and beneficial to being an engaged, happy, and productive citizen, and making a positive contribution as a member of society generally.

One of the original ideas behind the foundation of the university, when they were first created as institutions during the Middle Ages, was that exposing people to this sort of Humanistic education fundamentally transformed them, and actually made them better human beings and citizens.

As a historian working in an interdisciplinary humanities department, I have to confess that there is something a little bittersweet about the timing of this award. As you are all too well aware, we live in a moment when, across the nation, the value of a university education, and especially, the value of the humanities within that education, is being challenged.

You are the Board of Regents, and the future of the UW system is in your hands. In whatever ways this wonderful education system ends up being transformed or changed over the coming years and decades, I hope that we never lose sight of the original core function of the university, which was to be a place in which informed, thoughtful citizens are forged, and above all, as a place, where questions are asked.

Thank you for your time.

Students honored: Alfheim is Student Employee of the Year

top-student-employeeGreen Bay native and Pulaski High School graduate Cassie Alfheim (with Chancellor Gary Miller, above) was named both UW-Green Bay’s Student Employee of the Year and the State Award Winner as well, at a ceremony April 13 in a ceremony on campus. Alfheim is the student assistant with the office of Grants and Research. (For a full writeup on Alfheim, click here.) Students were nominated by faculty and staff and were judged by an impartial panel on the basis of reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and uniqueness of contribution. More than 1,000 students are employed each year at UW-Green Bay earning wages that help them pay tuition and fees, while building their professional portfolios and supplying the University with an additional workforce. Also receiving awards:

Kimberly Schwarzenbart – Most Unique Contribution in a Student Employment Position
: A senior Business Administration major from Reedsburg, Schwarzenbart worked as a marketing assistant for the University Union. An incredible artist, she used her exceptional abilities to market specific programming in the University Union and elsewhere on campus.

Bradley Drephal – Outstanding Demonstration of Reliability in a Student Employment Position
: A senior History major from Appleton, Drephal worked as a building manager for the University Union. He was especially motivated by customer satisfaction and ensuring great customer experience.

Sara Tupper – Outstanding Demonstration of Professionalism in a Student Employment Position
: A senior Business Administration major from Stoughton, Tupper used her employment opportunity to gain professional experience and preparation for a post-graduate career.

Maximus Nimmo – Outstanding Demonstration of Initiative in a Student Employment Position: The senior Business Administration major from Janesville, served as a lead intramural supervisor at the Kress Events Center. His demonstrated leadership allowed him to make lifetime connections.

Olyvia Kuchta – Outstanding Demonstration of Quality of Work in a Student Employment Position
: The senior Psychology major from Green Bay served as the office assistant for the Human Development/Information and Computing Science units. She credits the experience to strengthening her interpersonal and leadership skills while opening doors to establish relationships with faculty and staff.

Click here for more.

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Photos by Eric Miller, Marketing and University Communication

Award-winning Aldrete to Regents: History isn’t history, it’s asking questions

UW-Green Bay Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete gave the UW System Board of Regents a little history lesson upon receiving the Regents Teaching Excellence Award Friday at the board’s meeting in Waukesha. He told them he favored the ancient Greek usage of the word “historia” — the asking of questions — over the more modern sense that it’s a record of past events. Aldrete told the Regents he doesn’t employ textbooks in his classes:

“The readings consist entirely of material written by the actual people that we are studying. And when I read these ancient texts with my students, we are not passively absorbing information: we actively engage the texts, we aggressively interrogate them, we rip them apart and look both for the meanings that the author intended to convey as well as those he or she did not, we consider issues of bias, and think about what sources the author had to draw upon, and we always ask, can we believe what the author says, and why, or why not.”

Aldrete went on to describe the three fundamental skills he seeks to encourage in his students — organizing and assessing information, communicating effectively, thinking critically — and why they’re essential in any career. He also urged the board never to lose sight of the core values of history and the humanities and the role of universities as places where questions are asked. We’ll have a link to Aldrete’s archived remarks in our next issue of our weekly community e-publication, the Log Extra.

Prof. Gregory Aldrete receives UW System’s highest teaching honor

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents honored UW-Green Bay Frankenthal Professor of History and Humanistic Studies, Gregory S. Aldrete, April 10 for his outstanding achievements in teaching. Aldrete received the 2015 Regents Teaching Excellence Award, UW System’s highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff.

Prof. Gregory Aldrete

Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete

Aldrete started teaching at UW-Green Bay in 1995 and since has been awarded several distinguished titles for his contributions in teaching and research. In 2012, he was selected as Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement of Education (CASE). In 2010, he was selected as the recipient of the American Philological Association Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level (the national teaching award given annually by the professional association of classics professors). Aldrete was selected to hold the Frankenthal Professorship at UW-Green Bay through 2017, and he received the UW-Green Bay Founders Association Awards for Excellence in the categories of teaching (2003) and scholarship (2006).

In addition to his role as professor, Aldrete has excelled in the field of research. His research has been honored with a number of prestigious fellowships, among them, two year NEH Humanities Fellowships, and the Solmsen Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities in Madison. The Archaeological Institute of America, the professional association of archaeologists, selected him as one of two Joukowsky National Lecturers for 2014-15, an honor which included a lecture tour of 14 universities across the United States. Additionally, he was chosen as a fellow of two NEH seminars held at the American Academy in Rome, was a participant in an NEH Institute at UCLA, and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

His interest of all things ancient Rome makes its way to his classroom and beyond. He regularly teaches eight different courses of approximately 450 students per year, as well as numerous independent studies. His teaching methods include analyzing primary documents, holding debates, role-playing and other hands-on activities.

Recently, Aldrete developed an innovative interdisciplinary course on military history in which students learn through “living history.” An example was the multi-year Linothorax Project, in which his students helped him re-create the lightweight linen armor that Alexander the Great wore during his conquests. Their testing firmly established that linen armor would have provided superior protection and a major tactical advantage for Alexander’s forces. Aldrete’s published results of that research garnered international attention on Public Radio International, U.S. News and World Report, Der Spielgel, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Military History, Ancient Warfare Magazine, the Canadian network History Television, and in internet stories in more than two dozen languages and countries around the world.

Recently, he has begun making video lecture courses with The Teaching Company/The Great Courses, and his offerings include: A History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective, Decisive Battles of World History, and History’s Great Military Blunders and the Lessons they Teach (forthcoming).

Aldrete has written and recorded dozens of video lectures for The Teaching Company, with the first series entitled, “The History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective.” Aldrete gives frequent public lectures, including local venues as well as, recently, Iowa State University, Boston University, and the University of Manitoba in Canada. His students frequently comment on his depth of knowledge and passion for the subject of history and for teaching.

His interdisciplinary scholarship spans fields including History, Archaeology, Art History, Military History, and Philology.   Among the books he has written are: Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (1999); Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome (2007); Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia (2009); The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done For Us? (2012, with Alicia Aldrete); The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (editor, 2004); and Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor: Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery (2013, with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete).

Aldrete joins other esteemed UW-Green Bay faculty who have recently received the UW System Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award: Clifton Ganyard, Humanistic Studies (2014) and Regan A.R. Gurung, Human Development (2011). The UW-Green Bay Professional Program in Education received the UW System department of the year honors in 2011.

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