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UW-Eau Claire Professor Emeritus Gives Prize for Best History Thesis

RELEASED: May 2, 2008

Dr. Thomas Miller
Dr. Thomas Miller

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor emeritus and former chair of the history department gave $12,000 to establish a prize award for the outstanding history thesis completed by a student in the senior thesis class.

The first award of the Miller Prize was made this spring to Patricia Callaghan, a senior from Eau Claire. The $200 award will be presented each semester.

Callaghan's paper, "The Irish of Manitowoc County: Maintaining ethnic identity in a rural community," sheds new light on issues of Irish immigration in a rural community in eastern Wisconsin, said Dr. Kate Lang, chair of the history department.

"I am very proud of the senior thesis that all history majors at UW-Eau Claire must produce," said Lang. "There is no finer example of undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research in our discipline. Professor Miller's generosity will make it possible, at long last, for us to honor students like Tricia Callaghan whose work is truly exceptional."

Callaghan said she was honored to be the first to receive the Miller Prize.

"Dr. Miller's so fantastic — it was from speaking with him that I decided to choose history as my major — so winning this award is especially meaningful," said Callaghan. "Also, writing my senior thesis paper was such a learning experience. While researching the Irish in Manitowoc, I was able to learn more about my own Irish heritage."

Miller, who often taught the senior thesis class, wanted to reward students for outstanding work.

"Over the years I saw some papers published and some presented at national conferences, and I wished there was a way to acknowledge the hard work that went into these projects," Miller said. "When my mother, Mildred, died and left me an inheritance I thought establishing this prize would be the perfect thing to do with the money."

Miller, who joined the history department in 1967, served the university for 40 years before retiring in 2007. In addition to teaching, Miller served as associate vice chancellor and interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

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KH

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