CLEVELAND, Miss.— “The humanities serve as the roots of everything we do; there is humanity in every action we, as a community, society, nation, species, have done and will ever do.” It is this philosophy that has landed Dr. Andrew Wegmann the honor of being named Delta State University’s 2021 Humanities Teacher of the Year.
Each year, the Mississippi Humanities Council recognizes recipients of the Humanities Teacher Awards, which pay tribute to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields at each of the state’s institutions of higher learning.
Wegmann, an assistant professor of history and director of the Madison Center for the Study of the Early American Republic, is among the 30 recipients recognized statewide.
As part of his recognition, Wegmann will present a lecture, entitled “Another America Across the Sea: A Liberian History of the United States,” at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, via Zoom. The event is free and open to the DSU community and general public. To join the virtual event, visit www.zoom.us/join and use the Meeting ID 929 5530 8912 and Passcode 134362.
Wegmann said he is humbled to be selected as this year’s recipient for DSU—especially now.
“To be recognized publicly for something to which I have dedicated my entire adult life and in which I place such overwhelming passion is an honor that betrays—indeed defies—words,” he said. “In a current world where everything seems so fluid and shifting, it is a relief, a revival of sorts, and a reinforcement of my professional life to receive this commendation.
“This year has been difficult for all of us, and we have all sought new ways to adapt to a bizarre and scary world, both inside and outside the classroom. To receive this award, at this moment, makes me proud to have provided my students, as well as the humanities in this state, with a sense of normalcy and clarity,” he added.
Wegmann received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Hill College and both a Master of Arts and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. His research and teaching interests include African American history, the history of ideas, global colonialism as well as race and freedom in the Atlantic World.
Unlike more rigid fields of study, Wegmann believes the humanities open the scope of study to the processes of human development and thought.
“As I tell my students, everything has a history. Every idea, object, event, person, principle and subject has a path by which it came to its current form or the form it took when it finally faded away. The reality of that path is unavoidable and uncontrollable,” he explained.
“It is enforced by its very existence, and the humanities allow us, from multiple angles and perspectives, to bring into focus the blurred, vague image of that path for all things. If the humanities could speak as one, it would steal a phrase from one of its greatest muses: ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’ And that’s the beauty of it all.”
The Mississippi Humanities Council award was designed to recognize outstanding work by Mississippians in bringing the insights of the humanities to public audiences. Wegmann was nominated for the award by his peers.
“We in the Division of Social Sciences and History are excited about this great honor for Dr. Wegmann. He offers a wide variety of courses that challenge students to think in new ways about U.S. history. His emphasis on race, national identity, and the United States’ broader connections to the Atlantic World is vital to understanding the complexities of our current world,” said Chair of Social Sciences and History and Associate Professor of History Dr. Charles Westmoreland.
“Dr. Wegmann’s presentation on the intimate connections between the U.S. and Liberia will open our eyes to a fascinating history with relevance for the twenty-first century. We look forward to an enlightening and passionate talk on Feb. 22.”
To learn more about the Mississippi Humanities Council, visit www.mshumanities.org.
For more questions or more information, contact Laura Kate Fortner, senior secretary, at (662) 846-4065.