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Prof. John Dittmer Receives Exemplary Teaching Award

February 7, 2000

February 7, 2000, Greencastle, Ind. - John Dittmer, an acclaimed civil rights historian, award-winning author and beloved DePauw University history professor, is the recipient of a 1999 Exemplary Teaching Award from the General Board of Higher Education Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Presented on the basis of nominations from faculty colleagues and students, the award is intended to recognize outstanding teachers at Methodist-related institutions of higher education. Along with the award, Dittmer receives a $1,000 stipend.

DePauw students expressed strong support of Dittmer's nomination for the award. While many students indicated that Dittmer's classes tend to be difficult and have a demanding workload, they also said that Dittmer is inspiring in his approach to teaching and they really learned a great deal from him.John Dittmer Local People.jpg

Dittmer's special area of interest is the civil rights movement in Mississippi, which he has studied and researched for more than 30 years. He shares many of his experiences with students in classes such as Twentieth Century United States History, African-American History, History of the South and Civil Rights History. His book, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, was published in 1994. It received impressive reviews from national news media as well as several prestigious awards, including the Herbert G. Gutman Award and the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council. Then in 1995, Local People received the McLemore Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society and the Bancroft Prize, which previously was won by such individuals as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Daniel J. Boorstin. The New York Times also named Dittmer's book as one of the "Notable Books of 1994."

In December 1999, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Dittmer a $30,000 Fellowship for College Teachers and Independent Scholars for the 2000-01 academic year. Dittmer will use the fellowship to write another book titled The Good Doctors: A History of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, about a group of health-care professionals formed to provide services to needy Mississippi residents.

Much sought after as a lecturer, last year Dittmer gave the Martin Luther King Lecture at Vanderbilt University, spoke in the Oral History Program at UCLA, delivered East College Wide NLa.jpgthe plenary session address at the annual meeting of the Indiana Association of Teachers of the Social Sciences, and gave the Herbert P. Lefler Lecture at Carleton College. He also served on the James A. Rawley Prize committee of the Organization of American Historians, which selects the best new book on race relations each year.

Dittmer joined the DePauw faculty in 1985. Prior to that, he taught at M.I.T., Brown University, Tougaloo College and Indiana University. He earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Indiana University.

Previous DePauw recipients of the Exemplary Teaching Award include: Thomas Chiarella, associate professor of English; Craig T. Paré, associate professor of music ; Andrea E. Sununu, professor of English ; and Valarie H. Ziegler, professor of religious studies.

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