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Meet Rick Gawthrop, Ph.D., Honorable Roger D. Branigin Professor of History

Rick Gawthrop, Ph.D.Name: Richard Gawthrop, Ph.D.

Title: Hon. Roger D. Branigin Professor of History

Education: B.A. Colby College; Ph.D. Indiana University

Years at Franklin College: 25

Campus and Community Involvement: Branigin Chair; co-authored Franklin College’s liberal arts curriculum; established the Inner-City Missions Winter Term course; organizes each year a lecture by a distinguished historian and dinner for history honor students; has served as History Department chair, as chair of the General Education Council, and as Social Sciences Division Head; has published a book on 17th and 18th-century German history with Cambridge University Press; has conducted research and given papers in Germany, Denmark, and the UK; has traveled to Turkey and China on  faculty study trips.


Is there anything that you think is particularly unique about teaching at Franklin as opposed to other schools?

Franklin nurtures the development of its students through highly personalized teacher-student relationships.  It offers them experiential learning opportunities to enable them to step out of their comfort zones, and it teaches them the skills they need to become self-aware, caring and productive citizens in our society.  I have found it highly gratifying to contribute to and observe the academic and personal growth of the students I have worked with here.”

Where have your students been employed after graduation from Franklin?

“Since history is a classic liberal arts major, our students are prepared for careers in just about any field. A number of our graduates are also secondary education social studies majors, and so many of them have become teachers in both public and private schools. Some have gone to graduate school in history or related fields, either becoming teachers or using their research skills in other professions. Others have gone to law school and become attorneys. Increasingly in recent years, many have pursued graduate programs in library science, museum studies and historic preservation. Many others get jobs in businesses, where their critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills enable them to do well.”

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

“I would advise them to read books, follow current events, look for opportunities to serve others, and cultivate friendships during their time in college.”

 If you could teach a college course in any other department, what would it be?

“I would teach a course in religion, either on my favorite religious author, Thomas Merton, or a course in comparing Christianity with other world religions.”

What is something students would be surprised to learn about you?

“My wife and I have spent a number of years restoring our 130-year-old house, which is just a few blocks from the college and which was built by the same person who built the Napolitan Alumni House. And, our daughter currently lives in New York City.”

For more information about what a degree from Franklin College can do for you, contact the Office of Admissions at (800) 852-0232.


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