Posted on 04 December 2012.
At its 2012 conference in Portland, Oregon, in October, the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP) awarded its Annual Faculty Award to Senior Lecturer in the Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies Program, Klaus Milich, PhD. The AGLSP’s Faculty Award recognizes “outstanding faculty who exemplify the qualities of interdisciplinary, liberal teaching and who have participated significantly in teaching or advising students and/or have actively participated in other faculty service in a graduate liberal studies program.” Dr. Milich was recognized for his contributions to Dartmouth’s Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program, and for his work as an advisor for graduate students on campus.
“The AGLSP Prize is intended to recognize extraordinary commitment to mentoring and advising,” says MALS Chair Donald E. Pease, Jr. “From the time I recruited him to teach in the MALS Program in 1999, Klaus Milich has proven himself an exemplary scholar and teacher.” Dr. Milich teaches multiple courses for the MALS program— “Research Methods”, a course designed to help students understand and execute theoretical social science; “Diasporas and Migrations,” which focused on concept and theories related to mass-migration and diasporas across the globe; “Religion and Politics,” and “Theories of Postmodernism.” Dr. Milich also teaches courses in the Jewish Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies programs.
During his acceptance address at the AGLSP Conference, Dr. Milich spoke to the place of theory in graduate liberal studies. “It is of great importance to focus on the theorization of our topics,” said Dr. Milich, who’s own research is focused on analyzing and approaching the classic divide between the humanities and the sciences. “Our students come back from jobs to spend time reflecting. They’ve decided to take time to merge theory and their experiences. This is what graduate liberal studies can offer them.”
The AGLSP’s Faculty Award, however, recognizes more than in-class teaching ability. Indeed, it is Dr. Milich’s approach to advising his graduate students that has set him apart.
“In their annual evaluations, Klaus’s MALS students have praised Klaus for the patience he displays in guiding them through every stage of their thesis projects—from initial formulation to culminating revision,” Pease says. “His students have attested in particular to Professor Milich’s willingness to work late into the evening and over long week-ends to help them to meet deadlines and get over writing blocs. No one is more deserving of this national recognition for exemplary dedication to teaching and advising than Klaus Milich.”
“In graduate studies especially,” Dr. Milich tells us, “the student-instructor relationship ceases to be a hierarchical one. Instead, there must be a mutual interdependence between teacher and researcher. I consider my students to be young research scholars, who embark with me on new projects. They chart their course – I help them as I can.”
“Last year, Klaus was the first reader of my masters thesis,” says MALS grad and former Graduate Student Council President Wes Whitaker. “During the fall and winter terms, I met with Klaus and the other two students in colloquium—Ellen Anderson and Thomas Frohlich—on a weekly basis. At these meetings, portions of Ellen, Thomas and my theses were workshopped by Professor Milich. The feedback provided by Klaus and the other members of my colloquium not only strengthened the final draft of my thesis, but also greatly improved my academic writing.”
During his early years as a student, Dr. Milich studied economics, American Literary and Cultural Studies, German and English Literature. In the first stages of his career, Dr. Milich worked as a management consultant, and then went on to work for German public radio, and various international newspapers, for which he wrote and broadcasted essays, documentaries, interviews, and book reviews on literary, cultural, and social issues. Before coming to Dartmouth, Dr. Milich taught at the University of Frankfurt and Humboldt University Berlin. He has held visiting professorships and visiting scholar positions at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Keele University in Great Britain, and at the David Bruce Center for American Studies at University of California Irvine.
Up in Portland, MALS Director Wole Ojurongbe, himself a MALS graduate, read letter after letter from MALS students, who echoed these sentiments. “Before I met and worked with Dr. Milich, I would have described my life as largely content, settled, and unperturbed,” said 2011 graduate Mary Fratini, “but in my good fortune to meet someone who is equally passionate about his own consistently evolving research and committed to mentoring a new generation of thinkers and scholars, my life has become largely unsettled, consistently perturbed and, ultimately, infinitely more satisfying.”
Indeed, it was Dr. Milich’s commitment to his students, and his very real appreciation for academic research that showed through in Ojurongbe’s remarks and in our interview with him. “Our research,” he told us, “always means an exploration of what we have yet to know. It’s a work in progress. An instructor works with a student, so that both can learn the dual process of learning facts on the one hand, and learning how to continue learning on the other.”
Article and photo by Zach Williams