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Dept. of History thrives despite faculty losses

To the editor:

I write in response to a letter to the editor written by David Beyer '07.5 ("Dept. of History 'exodus' misrepresented," April 18).

I was very pleased to see Beyer's response to Monday's article ("History dept. attempts to cope with high turnover," April 17). I wish to add that after several decades of dedicated service, Brown will miss two of its finest faculty members, Professor Emeritus of History Abbott Gleason and Professor of History Gordon Wood, but that history education will continue.

While taking courses with new faculty members can be a gamble, any professor can be a gamble within a department as varied as history, which has as many styles of teaching as it has fields of study within the discipline. Not all styles of teaching will match all students, and this goes for both new and established professors. Perhaps I have been lucky, but I have not regretted a single history class I have taken at Brown, with either new and veteran professors.

Like Beyer, I was lucky enough to take classes with Wood, but I would consider my education in history incomplete if I stopped there. The broad requirements of the history concentration allow students to experience a wide variety of courses. Limiting one's selection of professors to the most famous faculty members, no matter how qualified, is foolish. A cautious approach to course selection that relies solely on the reputation of a few well-known professors seems antithetical to the Brown approach to learning - the ongoing, risk-taking pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

I continue to strongly encourage fellow students to consider a history concentration. The Department of History at Brown is growing, vibrant, dynamic and certainly anything but defunct.

Jesse Cohen '07April 18


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