Augustana’s Calder named Illinois Professor of the Year

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
Lendol Calder

Selected from more than 300 top professors in the United States, Dr. Lendol Calder has been named the 2010 Illinois Professor of the Year. Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the award is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

Calder, a 14-year veteran of the history department, is the second Augustana professor to receive this coveted award since the program began in 1981. Dr. Dorothy Parkander, professor emeritus of English, was named Illinois Professor of the Year in 1992.

“This is a very special day for Augustana College, and it’s a great honor to join Dr. Calder’s colleagues and students in offering congratulations on this outstanding recognition,” said Augustana President Steve Bahls. “For almost half a century, Dr. Dorothy Parkander transformed the lives of our students by introducing them to the world’s greatest literature. Dr. Calder has the same kind of impact as he leads students to a deeper, more effective understanding of history.”

An accomplished historian, Calder also is a leader in the growing movement to bring scholarly inquiry to teaching and learning in higher education. In 1999, the Carnegie Foundation invited Calder to join other distinguished academicians from diverse fields to invent and share new models to enhance student learning. Calder’s research findings, published in the March 2006 issue of The Journal of American History, examine the problem of “coverage” in introductory history courses and is part of a larger effort to forge a new way of teaching and learning college history. It was the first time the flagship journal for American history had published an article on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

“The kind of professor I’ve worked to be is the kind who approaches teaching with both the trained eye of a scholar and the wild eye of a poet or mystic or comic,” Calder said. “Teaching for me is both scholarly work and soul work. Studies tell us that professors are not all that comfortable with spiritual discourse and moral inquiry in the classroom. But Augustana has given me a green light for this kind of inquiry so I’ve been able to run with it. In my courses I work to help students develop both the language of their hearts and the language of their minds.”

For example, Calder’s American history class covering 1945 to the present has no exams and no 60-minute lectures. Instead of a single textbook, students read two competing histories and dozens of documents from the past. Grades are based on seven essays in which students demonstrate their ability to construct sound historical arguments on the basis of document analysis. Class time is filled with lively discussions where students do what historians do: formulate questions, analyze evidence, construct claims, dispute inferences, correct initial conclusions and recognize what can’t be known. Most importantly, students debate what story best makes sense of the American past. “If you don’t have a story that makes sense of the world,” said Calder, “then you don’t know what to do, or how to live.”

Caroline Sallee, a 2002 Augustana graduate, says the most important skills she learned in college were from Calder’s classes. “I learned how to approach history, to think about it critically and to write about it clearly,” Sallee said. “Today, as a 30-year-old economic consultant, I use these skills every day.”

A native of Texas, Calder received his bachelor’s at the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1980. He earned his master’s and doctorate from the University of Chicago. Calder came to Augustana in 1996, after having taught at Colby-Sawyer College; the University of Washington, Seattle; and the University of Chicago. In 1999, Princeton University Press published Calder’s book Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit, which continues to be the authority on the subject, even after a decade.

Ceremonies honoring the state and national winners of the U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program include an awards luncheon at the W Washington D.C. Hotel and a reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library, also in Washington, D.C.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Lendol Calder or for more information on the Professor of the Year award, contact Scott Cason, assistant vice president of communication and marketing, at or (309) 794-7323.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 70 majors and related areas of study. Augustana employs 287 faculty members and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it has always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.