Dr. William G. Thomas, III
The Department of History had a terrific academic year in 2011-2012, and we are looking forward to fall 2012 when
three new faculty members will join our department and classes begin again. Our faculty members won major book prizes, including the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category, and prestigious fellowships, including an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship and a Fulbright. Our graduate
students have published peer reviewed journal articles in the most prestigious journals, including The
Journal of Military History, Environmental History, and Great Plains Quarterly. Our undergraduate
students led a wildly successful History Harvest in Omaha in October 2011.
Our major is more popular than ever - it has more than doubled since 2002. We currently have over
285 history majors in our undergraduate program, and in the past year, we restructured many of our
undergraduate courses and added new courses. We want our students to be grounded in the liberal arts
and sciences, to have gained the research and communication skills necessary for the 21st century, and
to have mastered the discipline of historical inquiry and thinking. These skills are more important than
ever in today’s economy and society, and University of Nebraska students recognize the value of a History degree.
This year our department will welcome three new faculty members. Katrina Jagodinsky will join our
department as an Assistant Professor of History. Professor Jagodinsky specializes in North American
West, Women’s History, 19th century history, and Legal History. She earned her Ph.D. at the University
of Arizona in 2011 and was a Research Fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern
Methodist University. She is working on a book manuscript, “Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women in Imperial Courts.”
She has also taught Native American history as an Instructor at the
Tohono O’odham Community College.
Malte Rehbein will also join our department as an Assistant Professor of History. Professor Rehbein
specializes in Digital History and Digital Humanities, Medieval History, and European History. He
earned his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen (magna cum laude) and he has served as an Associated
Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria and as the Director of the Würtzburg Research Center
for Digital Editing. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Digital Medievalist. Rehbein has also served as a Visiting
Scholar at An Foras Feasa Institute in Maynooth, Ireland, and as a Senior Management Consultant
for Siemens AG.
James Coltrain will join our department as a Lecturer. Dr. Coltrain specializes in Digital History and
Digital Humanities, Colonial America, and Atlantic World history. He earned his Ph.D. in History at
Northwestern University. Coltrain’s dissertation, “Constructing Empires: Architecture, Power, and
Provincial Identity in Early America,” used three-dimensional models to reconstruct and examine the
architecture of imperial spaces at three fort settlements in the Atlantic: Castillo San Marco, Fortress
Louisbourg, and Fort Stanwix.
This 2012-2013 academic year, we have major events that will be exciting and important for the future
of the department. We will undergo an Academic Program Review and evaluation and we have been
preparing for the visit by the review team. We will host the Pauley Symposium on “History, Truth, and
Reconciliation,” which will feature an impressive list of speakers and scholars. We will convene our first
meeting of the department’s new Alumni Advisory Council whose members include business leaders,
scholars, lawyers, and writers. We will lead The History Harvest project this year (historyharvest.unl.edu) on Lincoln, Nebraska and its refugee communities.
We are looking forward to an exciting new year!
To see more about the Department of History, including upcoming events, news, and videos with five
senior history majors (Rex Burkhead, Academic All American, Lane Carr, president of ASUN, Kelsey
Jistel, president of Phi Alpha Theta, Brittany Jones, McNair Scholar, and Robert Perry), please visit our
web site at history.unl.edu.
William G. Thomas