It is true that Steve Glazer, PhD, will make efforts to connect history to cats in just about every class he teaches.
For an East Coast guy, coming to Iowa was a big change, but Steve Glazer enjoys the balance of living in a small town with a city not too far away.
His graduate work in Middle Eastern history, both MA and PhD, were completed at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Glazer wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college where there was a close relationship between the faculty and students. He credits his luck at landing the job with knowing how to say “Lamoni.”
“One of my colleagues at George Mason University in Northern Virginia told me the correct way to pronounce Lamoni, so that probably helped me in the interviews. I came in 1996 when Les Gardner retired and have been here now 21 years.”
"GLAZER HAS A WONDERFULLY SOFT-SPOKEN VOICE THAT ENGAGES PEOPLE TO LEAN IN AND LISTEN WHILE HIS ENTHUSIASM FOR HIS WORK COMES THROUGH LOUD AND CLEAR. HE CONNECTS WITH HIS STUDENTS, AND THEY’RE GRATEFUL FOR HIS INFLUENCE IN THEIR LIVES — REVEALING HISTORY IN NEW WAYS.”
Horizons caught up with Glazer before the summer break and asked about his teaching career.
Q: What’s your favorite course to teach?
A: That’s like saying, “Who is your favorite child?” They’re all wonderful. But there are different aspects about each course that are really enjoyable. Two that come to mind are the History of the Palestinian Conflict, which has some simulations where students get to act out the roles of protagonists in that conflict, and the History of African Diaspora, which looks at the experience of African descent, both in Latin America and in North America. I think it helps students to confront the comparative issues of racism and white supremacy, and the struggle to overcome those. That confrontation is challenging for both the instructor and the students. I’ve worked in some very new ways of teaching that I haven’t used previously in my other courses, so that’s been exciting for me. World Civilizations is a course I’ve taught all along, and it often introduces students to history, and sometimes they even become history majors!
Q: What do you like best about the job?
A: Advising. Through advising I get to know students very well. I get to work with them very closely; we talk about not just their courses, but their plans, their dreams, their aspirations, and that’s always been something I’ve enjoyed doing at Graceland. Some
of my colleagues have said I have a reputation of having a line outside my door — students come to see me. I really enjoy those one-on-one conversations.
Q: Something about you?
A: I like cats. If you’re looking for my office and you come to the door with all the cats on it, you’re in the right place. Currently we only have two. They came to us last October. We adopted them from the Des Moines shelter, and they were “bonded buddies,” so we had to take both. We’ve had lots of Lamoni cats over the years as well.
Dr. Glazer’s history classes have influenced hundreds of students over the last two decades as he has been part of their transformational Graceland experience. His sincere yearning to learn, to explore and expand make him an exceptional teacher.
"Even though it’s been years, I can still hear your guidance the loudest in how I view the world around me. I don’t think you realize the impact you had on my life and the passion you evoked in me for understanding how choices of the past impact equality and freedoms today. You have been a profound voice in my life, and I wanted you to know how grateful I am to have you as a mentor."
Rae Willey ’03 recently contacted Glazer and shared that she went to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. When asked what inspired her to march, she said, “Doctor Glazer.” She sent a note to Glazer thanking him.