David Obermiller, 2015 Carlson Award Winner, History Department

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by

2015 Carlson Award Winner, David Obermiller, History Department

David Obermiller

The Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Gustavus faculty member. Nominations are accepted from students, faculty, and staff, which document examples of the faculty member’s excellence in the classroom, enthusiasm for teaching and advising, and the use of particularly innovative or collaborative teaching methods. Let me read to you directly from some of the student nominations for the 2015 Edgar Carlson Award recipient. They are eloquent and compelling:

“There are numerous qualities, traits, and actions that qualify this professor for the teaching award. He teaches his students differently from other professors, helping students to learn and retain material rather than simply memorizing data. The class requires numerous readings for discussion the next day, and this is a helpful parallel to being prepared for a day in graduate school or doing rounds while in residency; one must always be prepared. Topics covered during this professor’s discussions are often controversial subjects, yet he challenges every student’s view to think outside of the norm and consider the other possibilities.”

Another student writes: “This professor has become my mentor because he puts his life into his work. He always makes time to meet with students and challenges us to succeed by giving us challenging assignments. After taking his class my world view has expanded tremendously, and I feel like I’ve grown as a reader, writer, student, and most importantly as a person. There is no one else I would nominate before him.”

And finally, I have saved the best for last. “I took his class on a whim to satisfy general education credits, but what I got out of it was alone worth coming to Gustavus. He uncovers mysteries of the past in a riveting and challenging environment that makes history absolutely fascinating for everyone. I thought I knew what WWII was about from what I learned in high school; I knew absolutely nothing compared to what I learned in his class. His teaching methods are unconventional, based on conversation and personal engagement in the subject. I strongly believe every teacher could learn a lot from him. He expects a lot of his students and encourages them to excel through his high expectations. There were many times when I walked out of class absolutely astounded and had to call my parents or a friend and tell them about what I had learned. That never happens. He is deeply passionate about what he teaches, and his passion is contagious.

His students respect him so much that, on a day he had to miss, when he asked us to hold class without him, everyone was present and actively part of discussion. The connections he makes with his students leave an impact; his lessons stay with you forever. David Obermiller is easily the best professor in the nation.” I love that line—David, you should really put that on your door! I am pleased to present this year’s Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching to Dr. David Obermiller, associate professor of history.

Dr. Obermiller joined the Gustavus faculty in 2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, his master’s and PhD in history from the University of Iowa, with a dissertation titled “The U.S. Military Occupation of Okinawa: The Politicizing and Contesting of Okinawan Identity, 1945-1955.” He is currently associate professor and chair of the History Department, and in addition is heavily involved in several interdisciplinary programs, including Three Crowns Curriculum, Japanese Studies, and Environmental Studies.

Congratulations, David!

Presented by Matthew Panciera
Associate Professor of Classics
2014 Recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award

 

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