The View from Victor’s Desk: Letter from the Chair

Department Chair, James MartenWelcome to the 2014 History Department newsletter!  Before I get into the typical news of students, alumni, and faculty, a word about the new title of the chair’s letter.  As many of you know and the rest will soon learn, the department moved into new quarters in May.  When the dust cleared, the main office was home to a big old antique roll-top desk.  We’ll use it to display faculty and graduate student publications, but for many years it belonged Victor Berger, the famous Socialist editor and Congressman from Milwaukee, who during the First World War was imprisoned for a time for his anti-war activism.  A future post on Historians@Work will provide a more thorough history of the desk, but for now know that for the last seventeen years its home has been John Krugler’s office. 

Sensenbrenner Hall in 1923.As I mentioned, perhaps the splashiest news of the year was our move to Sensenbrenner Hall, a project eighteen months in the making.  The following is part of a blog I posted in May: Although we’re not moving to a “deluxe apartment in the sky” (find out the TV theme song from which that line comes here:, we are, indeed, settling into nicer and more comfortable accommodations in the completely refurbished Sensenbrenner Hall, the “old law school,” on the East edge of campus at 11th and Wisconsin. If you were ever in the old law school—forget what you think it looks like. The 1924 building (see the sketch below) was gutted; there are a few original features—stained glass windows, original tile on the stairs—but it’s mainly a nice mix of metal, wood, and glass throughout. Many faculty offices have eleven-foot ceilings, and light bounces through the offices and hallways. And our administrative assistant, Jolene Kreisler, has windows in her office for the first time!

The 1960s and 1970s additions to Sensenbrenner were torn down and replaced by a sleek, smaller addition containing elevators, stairs, restrooms, and wide hallways. The entire east side of the new building is glass, so we have a great view of downtown. The Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences (including the advising center and the honors program offices) occupy the first two levels; the main history office is on the third level, with faculty offices on the third and fourth levels. TAs occupy a mezzanine above the fourth level with, get this, a skylight that also provides light in a lounge area on the fourth level.

We’re still unpacking and organizing and hanging picture, but more images of the new place will eventually be available on our Facebook page at   But in the meantime, feel free to stop by for a tour!

Although the move certainly occupied our attention and energy over the last few months, the department had its usual busy year in scholarship, teaching, and programming.

The best news is that Alison Clark Efford and Michael Wert were both promoted to associate professor with tenure.

Another headline is Dan Meissner’s Award for Teaching Excellence, yet another in a long line of history faculty so-honored. See more in the faculty news section.

As a group, the department published 5 book-length monographs, 1 co-authored textbook, and 13 articles or chapters in books.  Twelve different members of the history department also gave thirty-seven papers or lectures in seven countries and at least eleven states; several also served as chairs and/or commentators on panels at academic conferences.  These and some of the many other ways in which the faculty engaged the profession are listed in the section on Faculty News.

Of course, as in most years, there were also departures: three doctoral students completed their degrees: Jeffrey Ramsey (“Big Man on Campus: Reaction and Resistance to Title IX in the Big Ten Conference,” directed by Thomas Jablonsky), McKayla Sutton ("Illuminating the Irish Free State: Nationalism, National Identity, and the Promotion of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme,” directed by Tim McMahon), and Timothy Lay (“’By Jingo’: the Manifestation of Militarism as a British Cultural Phenomena, 1878-1902,” directed by Tim McMahon).  This fall McKayla will work at the MU archives and teach an Irish history class at UW-Milwaukee, while Tim has been teaching part-time at Lee University. Jeff is still seeking a teaching position, but in the meantime is conducting research for the Faye McBeath Foundation, a local philanthropic organization.  

Finally, we say goodbye to two junior colleagues: Andrew Kahrl is leaving after his fifth year at Marquette to take a joint appointment with the history department and the Carter G. Woodson Center at the University of Virginia, while Sarah Bond, who just finished her second year at MU, will join the classics faculty at the University of Iowa.  We wish them well and appreciate their work at MU during their time here.

Historians at Work

There is much more news to share.  Enjoy the rest of the newsletter, share it with anyone who might be interested, and let us know if you have alumni news you’d like to include in next year’s edition by contacting me at And check out our blog ( for reflections on history by MU faculty (and a few guests) and join 471 others in “liking” our Facebook page ( to keep abreast of department news and events.


Best wishes,

Jim Marten
Professor and Chair, History Department




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Department of History
Sensenbrenner Hall, 202A
1103 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Marquette University
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 (USPS); 53233 (courier)
(414) 288-7217 | (414) 288-5099 (FAX)