A History of the ENC History Department

The Early Years 

History became a formal subject of study at ENC in 1921, with the arrival of Professor Hugh C. Benner to the Wollaston campus. He later served as the founding president of the Nazarene Theological Seminary and a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. 

The 40sDuring the 1930s and World War II era, the Department of History remained a small one-person department. Professor Linford A. Marquart was particularly effective in organizing ENC students. Under his sponsorship, the History Club developed into the most prestigious student organization on campus, and students formed a chapter of the League of Evangelical Students. That international organization elected him to a national office. When in 1940 Professor Marquart resigned to take a position on the faculty of Olivet Nazarene College, Professor Mervel P. Lunn replaced him on the ENC faculty and taught history throughout most of the decade.  

The Postwar Years 

SmithShortly after WWII, ENC's History Department enjoyed a period of impressive growth and accomplishment. Two of the strongest instructors the College has known arrived on campus: Professor Charles W. Akers and Professor Timothy L. Smith. They not only professionalized the curriculum, but inspired a generation of students to attain academic excellence and professional prominence. 

AkersProfessor Akers returned to his alma mater ENC in 1948 while still engaged in graduate studies at Boston University. He was joined in 1949 by Professor Smith, who likewise was completing his graduate work at Harvard University under the renowned historian Arthur Slesinger, Sr.  Smith and Akers offered ENC students a rich program of instruction based upon their own rigorous doctoral studies. And both went on to establish national reputations as scholars, Akers in colonial American history and Smith in American church history. Akers' three biographies [Called unto Liberty: A Life of Jonathan Mayhew, 1720-1766 (Harvard 1964), Abigail Adams: An American Woman(Scott Foresman, 1980), and The Divine Politician: Samuel Cooper and the American Revolution in Boston (Northeastern, 1982)] received critical acclaim within the history profession.  The prestigious American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature included Akers’ work among the significant contributions to historical scholarship (Oxford, 1995). Smith's Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War (Johns Hopkins, 1957) remains a classic work of American historiography. (Click here for contemporary reviews of Revivalism and Social Reform.)  He also wrote the definitive history of the Church of the Nazarene, Called Unto Holiness(Beacon Hill, 1962). Smith's many scholarly publications and formidable knowledge of American church history and ethnicity earned him the honor of being one of six distinguished historians to address the American Historical Association in the Bicentennial year of 1976 on the meaning of the American experience. 

Reviv SocProfessor Smith reorganized the College's general education curriculum by replacing a two-semester course in European history with a course in Western Civilization. Instead of multiple sections of the course, he employed a large lecture session with recitation sessions conducted by history majors. Smith also introduced illustrated lectures on Fine Arts as part of this course and thereby brought the visual arts into the general education curriculum. 

Dr. Smith was the first director of College Courses Incorporated, sponsored by the Quincy School Department. Dr. Akers transformed this into Quincy Junior College and served as its first full-time director. Smith passed away in 1997. Akers lives in retirement in South Carolina.  

The Cameron-Faulkner Years 

Professors Akers and Smith inspired a generation of ENC students, including James R. Cameron who graduated from ENC in 1951 and received a Master's degree in history from Boston University in 1952. Professor Cameron taught full-time in the Eastern Nazarene Academy while pursuing doctoral studies at Boston University. When Professor Smith resigned in 1954 to take a position at East Texas State University, Cameron replaced him. (Later Smith went on to the University of Minnesota and ended his academic career at The Johns Hopkins University.)  When Dr. Akers resigned in 1959 to take a position at Geneva College, Professor Cameron, who received his doctorate that year, was appointed head of the History Department and Chair of the Division of Social Sciences. He would hold the former position for thirty-five years and the latter for thirty-six. In addition to earning numerous teaching awards, Dr. Cameron published several books [among them Frederic William Maitland and the History of English Law (Oklahoma, 1961) and Eastern Nazarene College: The First Fifty Years, 1900-1950 (ENC, 1968)] and has established an enviable reputation as a local historian. During Dr. Cameron's tenure as Department Chair, the basic history curriculum, still in effect today, took shape: two-semester survey courses in both European and American history, a seminar in historiography and methodology, and electives in English, Russian, American, Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern European history, along with a series of government courses. 

CameronIn 1959, Professor Barbara Faulkner began her teaching career at ENC as an adjunct instructor in English history. Meanwhile, she served as secretary to the academic dean and worked on her doctoral program at Boston University. She became a full-time instructor in the History Department in 1960, teaching primarily American and Russian history.

In 1965, Drs. Cameron and Faulkner were joined by Dr. Larry Hybertson, another alumnus of the College. He received his doctorate in Renaissance Studies at the University of Oregon and came to ENC from the faculty of Florida State University. After six years, he resigned to pursue a second doctorate and a second career in psychological testing. Hybertson passed away in 1998. 

FaulknerIn the decade of the 1950s, Professor James Golden began a program of intercollegiate debate at ENC. Dr. Akers took over the debate program and forged it into one of national prominence. In 1958, Luther Starnes and Richard Schubert, both history majors, qualified for the National Debate Tournament at West Point. Dr. Cameron took over the program in 1959, and under his leadership the team went to the Nationals in 1961 and again in 1962. When Dr. Cameron was on an exchange professorship at Northwest Nazarene College in 1968-1969, his star debater and history major was Kent Hill. After his graduate training at the University of Washington, Dr. Hill became a history professor at Seattle Pacific University and President of a Washington-based think tank.  Hill became president of ENC following the sudden death of Dr. Cecil Paul in 1992 and served until 2001 when he became assistant administrator fro Europe and Eurasia for USAID. 

The pattern of history alumni returning to ENC continued when in 1977 Donald A. Yerxa became an instructor in the History Department. He taught history and general education courses (in particular the capstone course "Living Issues") while he completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of Maine. In 1980, Professor Yerxa became ENC's first full-time Director of Admissions and continued in this capacity until 1988, when he left ENC. During his time in Admissions, he continued to teach "Living Issues" and some courses in history. In 1991, Dr. Yerxa returned to ENC after writing Admirals and Empires: The U.S. Navy and Caribbean, 1898-1945 (University of South Carolina, 1991) and helped launch the new accelerated adult education program: LEAD. In 1992, he returned to full-time teaching on the Wollaston campus and was named chair of the History Department in 1994, a position he still holds. 

The Yerxa Years

YerxaYerxa supervised a major curriculum review in the mid-1990s that led to the expansion of offerings in American history. He launched a major lecture series, which continues to bring many prominent historians to the campus to speak and interact with students. And in 1997, he organized the Alpha Theta Rho chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. In 2001, Yerxa reduced his teaching at ENC to become the assistant director of The Historical Society with offices at Boston University where he has served as editor of Historically Speaking, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, and director of the Society's $3.5 million Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs (RIHA) grants program. In 2011, he became editor of Fides et Historia, the journal of the Conference on Faith and History, and he has been a contributing editor for Books & Culture since 1999.  

RoweIn 1995, the History Department welcomed Nicholas Rowe to the faculty. He finished a doctorate in Anglo-French intellectual history at Boston College in 1997 and remained on the ENC faculty until 2001. Rowe provided ENC students with a fresh new perspective on the discipline of history and a variety of new educational experiences, including a January 1997 travel seminar to rural Tennessee where students conducted an exciting oral history project with two African American congregations.   

Cameron CenterIn the first decade of the 21st century, the History Department experienced substantial growth and new energy. The Department moved to the Old Colony campus in the summer of 2004. The spacious new quarters, that include office suites and the ENC Archives, are being named the James R. Cameron Center for History, Law & Government in honor of the over half-century of service that Professor Cameron has given Eastern Nazarene College.

Two new historians joined the faculty. LovettCarla Lovett, who was completing a doctorate in modern Austrian social and religious history at Boston University, brought a commitment to academic rigor and a keen desire to provide students with expanded intellectual and social opportunities beyond the traditional undergraduate classroom. Under her guidance both the History Club and ENC's Phi Alpha Theta chapter experienced renaissance. She left ENC in 2008 when her family moved to Illinois.

StephensIn 2004, Randall Stephens (PhD University of Florida) joined the History Department. He taught a number of innovative courses in such areas as American religious history, the Sixties, the South, and the history of rock and roll. He was instrumental in bringing many prominent historians to lecture at ENC. Soon after joining the ENC History faculty, Stephens was recognized as a rising star in the field of religious history. The History News Network (HNN) named Stephens a Top Young Historian in 2008. That same year Harvard University Press published his The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South, which won a number of awards. In 2012, he was a Fulbright Roving Scholar in American Studies in Norway. Stephens left ENC later that year to become Reader in History/American Studies at Northumbria University in the U.K. He continues to serve with Yerxa as an editor of Historically Speaking and associate editor of Fides et Historia

The Present

McCoyIn recent years, two young historians have replaced Lovett and Stephens and in the process have brought new expertise and interests to the Department. Bill McCoy, who is completing his doctorate in African history at Boston University, joined the History Department in 2008. He brings expertise in African, modern European, and missions history. In addition to teaching a variety of courses in the tradition format, McCoy has also led two travel courses to Africa. He has presented papers on his research in a variety of venues including the meetings of the American Historical Association, the Conference on Faith and History, and the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity. CaterBen Cater joined the History Department faculty in January 2013 after completing his Ph.D. in American History at the University of Utah. He teaches upper-division courses on all phases of North American history, as well as on Latin America. He also directs the College’s Boston Semester™ Program. He has published several articles in Fides et Historia and the Utah Historical Quarterly.

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