Tag Archives: PUC History

Academic Spotlight: History

PUC’s department of history focuses on more than just wars and politics. The goal is for each student to develop a clear understanding of human events and the values and attitudes of humanity from the time of ancient Sumer, Egypt, and China to our present civilization.

Programs offered:

  • B.A. in History, American History Emphasis
  • B.A. in History, European History Emphasis
  • B.S. in Social Studies
  • B.S. in History, Political Studies, and Ethics
  • B.A. or B.S. in Global Development Studies
  • Minor in History

A Student’s Perspective

There are a lot of fun things history students can get involved with at PUC.

Read “Seeing the East Coast with the PUC Department of History” by Marielle G. to hear about her experience taking a history study tour to Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Read “The Pre-Law Society at PUC” by Andrew M. to learn about this special club and his experience serving as the club’s president.  

Read “My Internship at PUC’s Nelson Memorial Library” by Ryan C. to hear about his internship working in the college’s archives as an intern, putting together a special exhibit for Homecoming Weekend.

BONUS: Check out “Great Places to Study on PUC’s Campus” to see photos of the department of history’s student lounge.

Fast Facts

  1. The department of history often hosts study tours over the summer. Recent destinations have included Japan, Washington, D.C., England, and Greece.  
  2. The Pre-Law Society offers students guidance in the process leading up to law school, advice and valuable insights to help with LSAT preparation, and connects students to a network of practicing attorneys who are willing to answer questions concerning law school.
  3. History students have the opportunity to have their work published in Eventorum, the department’s online current events journal. The journal strives to present under-reported topics from around the world, such as voting corruption in Venezuela and the U.S. opioid epidemic. The published articles not only help strengthen students’ resumes but they also help improve and advertise their writing skills.
  4. Sophomore Redi Degefa, a history major, recently interned in Washington, D.C., for Congressman Mike Thompson, the representative in Congress for California’s 5th district, which includes Napa Valley. Read “A Day in the Life of a Capitol Hill Intern” to hear about her experience!

What You Can Do With This Major

Armed with top-notch research and writing skills, graduates of PUC’s department of history have gone on to work within many different fields. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about your options!

  • Lawyer/Paralegal
  • Librarian/Archivist
  • Medicine
  • Museum curator/Manager
  • Politician/Legislative staff
  • Public policy
  • Publishing
  • Researcher
  • Teaching

Learn more about the department of history at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about PUC’s history programs, or the other majors the college offers. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you!

#FacultyFriday: Meet William Logan

Meet William “Willy” Logan, PUC’s newest professor in the department of history. Willy’s interest in technology through history pairs well with his understanding of engineering to bring a unique perspective to the history courses he will be teaching here at PUC. Welcome to the hill, Willy!

Name: William “Willy” Logan
Title: Assistant Professor of History
Email: wlogan@puc.edu
Faculty since: 2018

Fall Quarter Classes: History of the United States II; Medieval Europe; Seminar in European History (this quarter’s topic: Technology in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century).

Education: B.S. in engineering (concentration in mechanical engineering), Walla Walla University; Ph.D. in history of technology from Auburn University

You just arrived at PUC in August. What were you doing before that?

I was actually in Walla Walla, doing some adjunct teaching at the university for its history, technology, and engineering departments. I was also serving as a freshman mentor at the university, and substitute teaching for the public school district there. Before Walla Walla, I had been working for a study abroad program in Jaipur, in western India.

So what brought you to PUC?

I decided to come teach here because I wanted to serve a diverse, inclusive student population and be able to more fully integrate faith and teaching than I could at a secular institution.

What inspired you to become a teacher in the first place?

As should be obvious from my mismatched degrees, I didn’t always intend to become a historian. I had always loved history, but I wanted to be an engineer and work for NASA or an aerospace firm, and then maybe someday down the road make the transition to writing books about history. It was late in my college career that it occurred to me that I would be happier if I skipped the middle step and went straight to grad school to study for a Ph.D. in history.

As a newbie to PUC, tell us something that has surprised you about this place.

I heard about PUC all my life because my mom and several uncles are alumni, but nobody ever told me the college is on top of a mountain. When I came here to interview, I got to the Napa Valley after dark because my flight was delayed. I was surprised when Deer Park Road started going up and up and up, and I wondered: Where am I going?! That was pretty surprising!

What are some of your hobbies and pastimes?

I like hiking, riding my bike, cooking, exploring cities, sketching, and taking pictures with some antique film cameras I own.

All right, what is something others may be surprised to learn about you?

I spent three years of my life in India, and I speak Hindi.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Hilary Dickerson

Welcome to #FacultyFriday! Meet Hilary Dickerson, professor of history. Dr. Dickerson is a long-time West Coast resident, having completed four degrees in Washington State before moving south to teach here at PUC. Her interest in WWII-era history led her to a short-term research position in Japan, which has given her invaluable experience as a professor and a historian. But more on that later. Introducing: Dr. Dickerson!

Name: Hilary Dickerson
Title: Professor of History
Email: hdickerson@puc.edu
Faculty since: Fall 2007

Classes Taught: U.S. History, Intro to Asia, History Methods II (Historiography), Civil War and Reconstruction, Recent America: 1945-Present, Seminar in Asia, Seminar in the U.S., History Methods IV (Senior Thesis), History of Culture: Cold War America, U.S. Diplomatic History, History Study Tour, and an Honors course: Race and the American Century

What do you enjoy most about being a professor?
I love interacting with students, particularly watching students transform and master skills (reading, original research, writing, presentations) they once thought close to impossible. My favorite part of teaching is the growth I see in my students’ scholarship and character from their freshman to senior years as they encounter the world.

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose that?
My specialty is U.S.-Japanese relations during World War II and the Occupation, particularly involving the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I chose it partially because I heard my grandfather’s stories about fighting in the Pacific during World War II, and I read a book on the atomic bomb as an undergraduate. I also chose it partially by accident; I came across a group of women, the Hiroshima Maidens, in something I was reading in early graduate school and shifted my interest from an environmental history of Hanford Nuclear Site to this group of women who, despite being bombed by the U.S., traveled here afterward for plastic surgery to fix their scars.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Staying up-to-date on current research in the field of history and making history relevant for college students.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to teach kindergarten for a while, which is hysterical now because my classroom management skills for that age group are non-existent.

I understand you’ve spent significant time in Japan. Tell us about that.
I lived in Japan for seven months as a research fellow at International Christian University when I was ABD (All But Dissertation in my doctoral program) and have had the privilege of traveling in Japan several other times as well. While there, I conducted my own research three days a week, and usually traveled the other four, unless I needed to help out with a conference or proofread professors’ latest projects.

In Japan, I learned about the importance of traveling alone and pushing myself to try new things even when it felt uncomfortable. I frequently draw on my research from that era as I teach or work on new projects of my own; I learned how to negotiate difficult research topics—such as the death and destruction wrought by the atomic bomb—as a citizen of the country that built the bomb.

I was initially most surprised by Japan’s blend of cutting-edge modern life with tradition, but I should not have been. I was also surprised at how good my Spanish became in Japan; I’d studied in Argentina in college, and surrounded by a new language, I started thinking in Spanish instead of English. When I tried to speak in my limited and halting—and frankly awful—Japanese, Spanish words came out instead. It is funny now, but it wasn’t always then.

And finally, I learned what it feels like to be an outsider while I lived in Japan—to not speak the language, understand all parts of a culture, be able to express myself easily. I brought that with me to teaching, I hope. I think the experience gave me empathy for my students when they are working to learn something new and frustrated by how long it takes or who feel like they don’t yet belong.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to teach high school when I started college, and then I taught about the atomic bomb and the students were clearly uninterested. About that time, a history professor at Walla Walla University named Bob Henderson suggested I should think about teaching college. It had never occurred to me that I could succeed in graduate school, let alone teach college students.

What are some of your hobbies?
I like to travel, read, run, spend time with my family, and ride horses.

What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I once spent a summer working grounds for a golf course and can (or at least could) drive a tractor, mow greens, mow fairways, and reprimand golfers throwing fits about their drives. I misunderstood my boss once and mowed an entire hill of decorative grass down; he’d been carefully growing the grass for a few seasons and had told me to “go find something to mow.” So, I did.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
I love being part of the community of students and faculty at PUC, particularly given the natural setting of the hill.

Name a class (history or otherwise!) you think all PUC students ought to take.
I think all students should take a class in a subject that pushes the boundaries of their own knowledge and perspectives, whatever that class might be. History Methods II (Historiography) is my favorite class to teach in many ways because it does just that.

Education: B.A. in English, B.A. in Spanish from Walla Walla University; M.A. in American Studies from Washington State University; Ph.D. in U.S. History from Washington State University

Professional activities:


New publication (book chapter) in Fall 2018 as part of the Legacies of the Manhattan Project called, “The Atomic Bomb in Censored Print: Newspapers and the Meaning of Nuclear War.”


“‘Will Die for Cause of Imperial Edict:’ Paul Tatsuguchi’s Transnationalism in a Time of War.” Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast 2017 Annual Conference. June, 2017. Salem, Oregon.

Seeing the East Coast with the PUC Department of History

By Marielle Gutierrez

As a recently graduated history major from Pacific Union College, I can say I spent a lot of time in Irwin Hall. As a student, I sat through many interesting class periods where professors not only gave thought-provoking lectures, but also encouraged students to use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Learning history in a classroom setting is great, but it is even better when you are able to visit the many different places you read about in an assigned reading, or researched for your next paper. Visiting historical locations makes the past more real and accessible. Thankfully, the department of history at PUC offers students the chance to experience history through travel.

This past summer the history tour went to the East Coast. All who participated on the tour had the opportunity to visit Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Each location showcased an obvious mix between the past and present. Despite this common factor, each location managed to offer something unique to me. Boston provided a clear visual of our nation’s beginnings with all of its historical sites. New York offered us the opportunity to see the roots of our country’s diversity, while Philadelphia proudly displayed themes of our country’s foundational beliefs—liberty and freedom. Last but not least, Washington, D.C., was a memorial of thanks to the many brave people who sacrificed everything so their country could flourish.

I enjoyed the history tour so much because I was able to fulfill my dream of visiting these famous cities that played an important role in founding the United States. I also enjoyed the tour because I was able to form friendships with other PUC students who I previously never had the chance to meet, or initially did not know very well. By the end of the tour numerous inside jokes were formed during evening homework sessions and various means of keeping in contact were created. They honestly became family.

I will always remember this trip as one of my best college memories, and for that, I am so thankful for the PUC department of history because they provided me with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you ever have the opportunity go on this tour; take it! You will not regret it.

PUC Celebrates Black History Month

Pacific Union College has always been committed to diversity. Today, in celebration of Black History Month, we are honoring a few of the college’s many accomplished black African-American alumni.

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney
Born a slave in 1855, Charles Kinney moved west and became an Adventist in 1878. Sponsors paid for him to study theology at Healdsburg College (1883-1885), now known as Pacific Union College. Kinney later became the first ordained black Seventh-day Adventist minister. He established regional conferences and oversaw much of the Church’s growth. When he joined the Church, there were only about 50 African-American Adventists. At the time of his death, there were over 25,000.


Frank L. Peterson

Frank L. Peterson
Frank L. Peterson, class of 1916, was the first African-American student to graduate from PUC. His long career of service began with teaching at Oakwood College (now University) and pastoring, but he quickly advanced. Peterson served for nine years as the president of Oakwood, and in the 1960s, became a vice president at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps
Before he became a friend of Langston Hughes and a respected poet and novelist in the Harlem Renaissance, Arna Bontemps graduated from PUC in 1923. Bontemps studied English at PUC, and he also wrote for the Campus Chronicle, the college’s student newspaper. He is now best known for his novel Black Thunder, which tells the story of an 1800 Virginia slave rebellion. The Nelson Memorial Library at PUC owns a signed copy of this and other Bontemps works.

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth
Mary Inez Booth studied music at PUC and graduated in 1937. During her junior year, she was baptized into the Adventist Church. Booth’s dedication to her faith took precedence in all she did. She spent her career teaching music at Oakwood and she also founded the Oakwood Jail Band Ministry, which she led for 50 years. In 1983, she became a sheriff’s deputy, an honorary post she held until she was 90-years-old.

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford
When she graduated from PUC in 1938, Ruth Stafford didn’t know her nursing degree would take her all over the United States. Stafford served in hospitals from southern California to Chicago to Tennessee. She wrote a regular column for Message Magazine and taught nursing classes at Oakwood. While she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, Stafford coordinated the nursing program for Meharry Medical Center.


Will Battles & Paul Cobb
Will Battles, Paul Cobb, and two other PUC students drove 2,400 miles from Oakland to Selma, Ala., to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 21, 1965. Cobb,class of 1965, convinced three of his PUC classmates to come along in his two-seater car. In this photo by Al Loeb, Battles (wearing a fedora) and Cobb (pencil behind his ear) are seated behind Dr. King as the marchers rest in a grassy area between Selma and Montgomery. You can read more about their amazing story in “A Journey and a March,” in a 2005 issue of the Adventist Review.

Photographs and information courtesy of the Nelson Memorial Library at Pacific Union College.