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Historian receives Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship

RELEASED: Oct. 9, 2009

Dr. Robert Gough
Dr. Robert Gough

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Robert Gough, professor of history, is the 11th recipient of the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The award, which was created in honor of Maxwell Schoenfeld, a UW-Eau Claire history professor and scholar from 1964 until his death in 1996, recognizes a commitment to the university, achievement in scholarship and a commitment to student learning and life.

Gough said he was a colleague of Schoenfeld and receiving the award is a great honor.

"When I first joined the faculty, Max encouraged me to do research and be a scholar as well as a teacher. Winning this award reminds me of the scholarship he was able to accomplish and seems like a good way for me to perpetuate his memory."

Gough will use the award to further his research on the social context to teaching as an occupation in Wisconsin from 1900-50. He is studying who was teaching at that time and how they went about starting and furthering their careers.

"There were different routes to take to build a career as a teacher then," Gough said. "It was not as structured a career as it is today."

Early in Gough's career he studied early American colonial history, but after joining the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 1981, he became interested in 20th-century Wisconsin history.

He started the research on teachers and their careers during a sabbatical in 2006-07. Gough's interest in this area of history was piqued by his work as a content supervisor of student teachers for the College of Education and Human Sciences.

"I focused on the region I had moved to and so it seemed natural to connect to the history affecting the students I was teaching and advising," Gough said. "Understanding the process of becoming a teacher then makes me more aware of the issues and processes of becoming a teacher now and has deepened my ability to work with today's young teachers."

Gough will use some of the funds from the award for a trip to Philadelphia, Penn., in October, where he will present a paper on his research to the History of Education Society.

"With travel money limited at the university this year, it is very helpful to have the money to make this trip," Gough said.

Gough received a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the University of Arizona and Union College before joining the UW-Eau Claire faculty.

In addition to his research on teachers, Gough has done research on the settlers who tried to farm the cutover region in northern Wisconsin. His book, "Farming the Cutover: A Social History of Northern Wisconsin, 1900-1940," was published in 1997. Goughs most recent publication, "Defining a Region: Logging, Farming and Tourism in Northern Wisconsin, 1870-1940," was published in Voyageur: Northeast Wisconsin's Historical Quarterly. In 2010 the History of Education Quarterly will publish Goughs piece "High School Inspection by the University of Wisconsin, 1875-1940."

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KH

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