The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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History alumni return to talk politics, remember college years

On the roof of Sierra Hall in a library-like setting, with rows of burgundy chairs and a table set with coffee, cookies and fruit, history enthusiasts gather to engage in political discussions similar to those they experienced during their collegiate years.

Alumni of the history department assembled in the Whitsett Room Wednesday night to reconnect with old classmates and participate in CSUN’S first alumni history event, a discussion about the book ‘Four Hats in the Ring: The 1912 Election and the Birth of Modern American Politics,’ by Lewis Gould.

Tom Devine, associate professor in the history department, along with three other colleagues came up with the idea to invite CSUN history alumni back to the university as a way to give them the opportunity to still be involved long after graduation.

‘Some of the alumni graduate students suggested that now that they are out in the work world, they miss the seminar environment,’ said Devine.

The organizers worked together with the history department’s development office to contact alumni by sending out e-mails and postcards. Devine hopes this event, the first of its kind, will set the stage for future book discussions hosted by other past and present history professors in the department.

Dr. John J. Broesamle, history professor emeritus who taught for CSUN’S history department from 1968 to 2000, was selected to be the moderator for the discussion. Broesamle brought his wife Cathy with him to assist him in moderating the discussion.

Asking alumni to excuse his failing eye sight by comparing his current vision to ‘a foggy San Francisco morning,’ Broesamle began the discussion by inviting all those in attendance to introduce and ‘share something interesting’ about themselves. One by one, guests gave their names and the specific years they spent at CSUN.

Many of the guests attended CSUN when it was still referred to as Valley State College and made jokes about the magnitude of changes in both the name of the university and the university itself.

Among the many people that introduced themselves, most guests were former students of Broesamle. Now engineers, lawyers, opera singers, real estate or travel agents, and even teachers themselves, each person spoke kind words of how Broesamle was their mentor, motivator or simply the reason they got through college.

Andrea Cohen, who graduated from CSUN in 1993 with her master’s in history, credited her teaching methods to Broesamle.

‘I always said we’re not here to make you happy, we’re here to make you think,’ Broesamle told Cohen.

After personal introductions, Broesamle wasted no time delving into the discussion of the book about the controversies of the 1912 elections and its significance to history. Passing out handouts of outlines and topics of discussion just as he used to do for his former students during his class lectures, he began asking questions about the parallels between Gould’s book about the 1912 election and the current 2008 election.

The alumni quickly joined in, and after raising their hands just as they were accustomed to doing, they answered Broesamle’s questions without hesitation.

Relating the presidential nominees of 1912 to 2008, the alumni discussed what characteristics made a good candidate and what issues on each presidential candidate’s platform are still being used today.

Female alumni also discussed the issue of women’s suffrage during 1912 and the advancement women have made from campaigning to get the right to vote to campaigning to hold a job in office.

David Kibbler, a former student of Broesamle expressed his excitement to be a part of the discussion that evening. ‘We get to talk about topics we are interested in and the best part of this is that you don’t owe anyone a paper when you’re done,’ Kibbler said.

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