Back row, from left: Jimmy Sulaica, Gregg Michel and Marty Quirk
Seated: Raul Rios and Jerri Rhodes
Students investigate and write UTSA's history
By Rebecca Luther
Editor, Sombrilla Magazine
(Dec. 20, 2005)--Students in Associate Professor Gregg Michel's senior-level history seminar have spent the semester studying a subject that's close to home: UTSA.
The 15 students in the class have all produced original research papers on a variety of topics related to the university, including the founding of the 1604 and Downtown campuses, the history of the Paisano student newspaper, and Title IX and the history of women's athletics at UTSA.
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"Someone's writing a history of the history department, which is funny because you would think historians would know more about their own history than we actually do," Michel said.
Researching the university's history proved to be particularly challenging for the students, Michel said, because of a lack of both secondary literature about the university and original source material.
"The university has done a poor job of preserving its past until recently," he said, crediting Institute of Texan Cultures head archivist Gerrianne Schaad and the Special Collections staff for their work in compiling an archive of university materials.
Michel's students have made use of the ITC archives as well as periodicals such as the Paisano and the San Antonio Express-News for their research, and he also required them to do interviews.
"The students are learning that historical research is time consuming," he said. "A lot of them have become really good at what I would call sleuthing, detective work, because they've really had to work hard to find the source material, and they've done an amazing job in cultivating sources and finding people to talk to."
The students will give their finished papers to the ITC Archives and some students also are donating their interview transcripts to ITC, both for the sake of posterity and for use by future researchers.
"In a way, it's a first step toward writing UTSA's history," Michel said.