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Dr. Ronald Palmer

Historically Speaking with Dr. Ron Palmer

Dr. Ronald Palmer, professor of history at Jefferson, was born and raised in Latham, New York and had a love of history and politics dating back to his childhood. “My grandmother was very involved in politics and I remember being 11 years old and helping her campaign for Richard Nixon; not exactly what a typical 11-year old kid would be doing, but history and politics really intrigued me, even at that young age,” Dr. Palmer said. That love of history stayed with him as he grew older.  He went on to graduate from SUNY Brockport in 1983 with a bachelor in arts degree in global studies with a minor in history. On the advice of his SUNY Brockport advisor, he attended the University of South Carolina where he earned his master in arts degree in international studies in 1987 followed by his Ph.D. in international studies.  It was there at the University of South Carolina and where he began teaching, and realized almost immediately that teaching was what he wanted to do. “I really enjoyed it, the interaction with the students and just talking about history, I had other jobs during this time, but always knew that teaching was going to be my life’s work,” Dr. Palmer said. 

In 1991, he was hired at Jefferson and began teaching both history and world affairs classes, and during his many years at the College, he has garnered a reputation of being one of the more popular professors among students. “I love teaching at the college level, it never gets old for me,” he said. “I tell my students that I could never teach an online course, I need that classroom interaction with them, it’s very powerful and I’m a storyteller at heart, it’s what I love most about teaching.” Dr. Palmer’s connection with his students is well-known on campus and he has served as an advisor to many campus clubs and also served as the Jefferson Honors Program Coordinator for two years.

Dr. Palmer’s love of history and world affairs is not contained to the classroom, he organizes trips to Europe every year, traveling with students in the European Excursion Club to various cities abroad to experience and absorb in person what he lectures in his classroom. His excursion trips have taken Jefferson students to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, Berlin and Brussels, to name just a few. “I love seeing my students’ reactions as we travel around to all these amazing historical cities, that look of awe on their faces when they see something in person for the first time, it’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “History is something that a lot of students see as boring and dry and not relevant to them now, and I absolutely love hearing that. It challenges me to show them how history is still relevant in their lives, why it matters and makes us who we are today. I tell my students that history doesn’t repeat itself, but there is a loud echo chamber, so it is very important to them and their futures.”

Learn more about Jefferson’s Liberal Arts and Sciences: Humanities and Social Sciences degree.

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