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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Assistant professor Alvis Dunn leaving after 13 years

Assistant Professor of History Alvis Dunn is leaving Guilford at the end of the semester to teach at the University of North Carolina Asheville.  He will be joining his wife Leah, who recently became library director at the university.

“Alvis was my first teacher of my first class in college,” said senior Blade Cruickshank, a business management major. “Alvis does these ‘panels’ or ‘talk shows’ where you have to play a role of a character in the time period of history that you are studying. This was and still is in my eyes, the most interesting and fun educational exercise I have ever done.”

Dunn brought a passion for history to Guilford for 13 years.

“Personally, I find knowledge of history to be the foundation of human activity,” said Dunn. “That we are informed about the lives and actions of those who have gone before us makes us, at least theoretically, wiser in how we meet challenges that come at us in the future.”

Dunn continued, “History is so very much the story of everything: economics, society, culture, language, politics. And I do think of history as a story, something to be shared among us, that binds people together or explains why they are estranged.”

Dunn inspired students to pursue their own interest for history with his enthusiasm for the subject.

“Prior to taking a class with Alvis, I was not sure if I wanted to be a history major or not,” said junior Alejandra Ruiz. “After taking his Modern Latin America class, I can definitely say that it made me realize that I wanted to be a history major and someday hopefully travel and study in Latin America.”

Dunn personalizes his classes by sharing his own childhood memories.

“My favorite memory of Alvis is his stories about pig hollerin’ contests,” said senior Michael Delson. “All I kept thinking about was I wanted to experience a pig hollerin’ contest. If I was not a senior, I would follow him to Asheville.”

Dunn says he will take a lot of lessons learned at Guilford with him to Asheville.

“I have worked with many wonderful faculty here from my early years adjuncting and being mentored by Alex Stoesen and Dotty Borel, through to more recently learning alongside Phil Slaby, Damon Akins and Zhihong Chen,” said Dunn. “Of course, Tim Kircher and Sarah Malino have been great colleagues from whom I have learned a great deal as well.”

The faculty has also learned much from Dunn.

“Alvis’ approach to teaching many topics by asking students to view, research and then understand the past from the vantage point of view of various people from the past, common figures, someone famous, or even someone infamous, is sort of a model and a marvel to me,” said Slaby, assistant professor of history. “The various debates and ‘talk shows’ wherein he asks students to take on the persona of a historical figure is creative and great training for the students’ historical imagination.”

Tim Kircher, professor of history, agrees about Dunn’s value to the school.

“He created our first study abroad program in Guatemala,” said Kircher. “He has the rare gift of being both passionate and fair, to be both an advocate and an impersonal observer. He has introduced many students to the rich complexities of North Carolina and Latin American history, showing them the evidence of these cultures and helping them weave these sources into compelling narratives.”

Students and faculty agree that Dunn’s enthusiasm for his subject and his students sets him apart.

“He added his expertise about Southern history and Latin American history,” said Adrienne Israel, vice president and academic dean. “Since he came to Guilford over a decade ago at the behest of Alex Stoesen, even during the days when he commuted from Chapel Hill, he inspired us with his enthusiasm for his subjects, whatever he was teaching and for his students.”

Senior Jeff Bowman sums it up best.

“Someone once said that when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Alvis is here, and his presence will be missed.”

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    Ellen McLawhornDec 3, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Great teacher!