Dale Prentiss

Title: Special Lecturer
Office: 468 Varner Hall
Phone: (248) 370-3521
Fax: (248) 370-3528
Email: prentiss@oakland.edu


Ph.D., Stanford University

Major Fields:

U.S. History, Economic and Social History


Long ago, I graduated with highest honors (and mediocre grades) in history from the University of Michigan. The "highest honors" title was based solely on an honors paper I wrote about draft resisters in my home town during the Civil War ("Troy, Michigan, and the Civil War Draft"). I went on to receive a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University. My dissertation focused on the similarities among yeoman farmers throughout the Jacksonian era, "North" and "South," and I'm still working hard to convince audiences of undergraduates at Oakland University that there was no solid South or unified North until shots were fired on Ft. Sumter 150 years ago, if then. In short, the Civil War didn't happen long before it actually happened. Trust me on that one.

I went directly from graduate school to Europe on a Fulbright fellowship to study the myth of the American melting pot from the emigrant perspective. On my return to the states, I happened to stroll into the OU History Department the same week the great Turk McCleskey was called to service as a reserve officer in the first Gulf War, so I was called to service as a reserve American historian approximately two weeks into the semester. That harrowing experience launched my adjunct career at OU. I soon received lucrative full-time work as a historian with the federal government. That position was more lucrative than compelling, but I stayed there nearly eight years before starting my own company, Creative Kick Communications, doing writing, research, instructional design and even graphic design. That has been and continues to be a compelling and satisfying business, but in 2005, I had the good fortune to add special lecturer in OU's History Department to my self-employment dossier.

As a historian at OU, I've been able to interact with some fascinating students, find a captive audience for my sometimes quirky but always passionate and occasionally well-informed notions about the formation of the United States, and provide university-subsidized health care to my family. It is, like everything in a free-market society, a transaction accompanied by a fluid arrangement of winners and losers. My primary regret – the very reason I didn't participate in academia for more than a decade after my earliest OU experience – is that my participation as a worthy stand-in might help the administration to justify giving full-time slots to a department other than history.

In my spare time, I teach kundalini yoga in the studio that my wife and I own, Kundalini Yoga in Troy, Michigan. I am also a writer and musician. I love my life, and I am grateful to the students and faculty of Oakland's History Department for helping make it more interesting than it would otherwise be and, yes, to Oakland's administration for providing me, knowingly or not, with an ongoing opportunity to have the word "special" in my official job title. To start one's academic career with highest honors and end it as an officially special person – those are the hallmarks of a blessed life.


Major General Roy E. Beauchamp, with Ann M. Bos and Sharon Peters-Wisniewski (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 2002).

Charlie One: A Wartime Experiment, 1941-1945, with Paul Andrews (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 1996).

Building a Base: Selfridge and the Army, with Kevin Thornton (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 1996).

Tanks and Industry: The Detroit Arsenal, 1940-1954, with Kevin Thornton (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 1995).

Sending the Very Best: An Oral History Interview with Major General Peter M. McVey, with Thomas Kornacki (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 1993).

The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Warren, Mich.: U.S. Army TACOM, 1992).

"Economic Progress and Social Dissent in Michigan and Mississippi, 1837-1860," (Ph.D. Diss., Stanford University, 1990).