As things have turned out, this spring both Bethel University and its fellow evangelical university two miles down the road, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, have been in the process of hiring ancient history professors. So since my friend and fellow department chair, Jonathan Den Hartog, used his blog to announce Northwestern’s hire of Prof. Jonathan Loopstra, I thought I’d use mine to announce our hire of Prof. Charlie Goldberg.
You can learn more about Charlie at our department blog, or by watching this interview that we filmed during his campus visit.
I’m thrilled for any number of reasons. First, Charlie is a native Minnesotan, and thirteen years ago, I was in the position of returning home to Minnesota to teach, so I know how meaningful this is for him. Second, I’m glad that we’ve been able to replace our colleague, Kevin Cragg, who taught ancient and medieval history at Bethel for over thirty years until his 2013 retirement and was a huge influence on my development as a professor. None of us wanted to work for a purely modern history department, and Charlie’s primary field (Roman history) is especially popular with our students.
Third, Charlie’s particular research interest is Roman ideals of masculinity, which means that (among other things) we’re building on our existing strength in gender studies — a real distinctive for an evangelical Christian university.
But obviously, the most distinctive of his position is that nearly half of Charlie’s load will be in the realm of digital humanities (DH). He’s being brought in to help us develop and coordinate a new interdisciplinary major in DH, and to teach introductory and capstone courses in the field.
Actually, I’ve been the primary author of that program proposal so far. But hard as it’s going to be to step away from that work just as it comes to fruition, I’m also glad that my fall sabbatical is forcing me to hand it off to Charlie and other colleagues, including our digital library manager, Kent Gerber, and faculty from disciplines ranging from computer science to education, graphic design to English literature. DH is an inherently collaborative field, and that’s one of the reasons we went with Charlie. As one of my colleagues observed after meeting him, “As we batted ideas back and forth for how to implement collaborations… Charlie’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to helping facilitate cross-departmental learning were evident…. Just as Charlie is a ‘digital native,’ he also seems to be a ‘collaborative native.'”
Thanks to all of you who helped spread the word about this position — and to our administrators and trustees, for enabling us make a creative hire in a time that has seen many colleges like Bethel shed positions in the humanities. I’ll keep you posted as our DH planning starts to bear fruit.