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Alumni Profiles

Alumni of the Department of History have achieved success in a wide variety of professional fields. The following profiles, drawn from a mixture of older and more recent graduates, provide a brief glimpse into the career paths of just a few of our distinguished alumni. (Since many of our graduates hold teaching positions in secondary education, a separate list of brief teachers' entries appears under a separate tab.)

Martha Allen
Martha Leslie Allen is the director of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP) in Washington, D.C. As an undergraduate student at Oakland, she was active in a number of progressive causes and was a member of the OU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. After completing her B.A. at OU in 1969, she went on to receive the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Howard University. She has served as director of WIFP since 1985.
Mark Baskin
Mark Baskin is currently Research Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York in Albany.  After completing his B.A. in history at OU, he went on to receive his M.A. from the University of Zagreb and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan.  Before assuming his present position Dr. Baskin spent several years with the United Nations, serving as a Civil Affairs and Political Affairs Officer in the UN Missions in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia.
Donna Bennett
After completing her B.A. in history at Oakland in 1970, Donna Bennett received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan in 1978. After teaching at numerous universities in North America and Europe, including the University of Newcastle and the American College of Arts and Sciences in Paris, she currently is an associate professor of finance at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va.
Jan Bulman
After receiving her B.A. in history at Oakland in 1995, Jan Bulman went on to complete the Ph.D. degree in medieval European history at Michigan State University in 2003. She currently is associate professor of history at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala. Her first book,  The Court Book of Mende and the Secular Lordship of the Bishop: Recollecting the Past in Thirteenth-Century Gévaudan, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2008.
Lee Casey
Lee Casey completed his B.A. in history magna cum laude at OU in 1979 and went on to receive his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1982. He has served in various capacities in the federal government, including the Office of Legal Policy and Office of Legal Counsel within the U.S. Department of Justice, serving also as deputy associate general counsel in the U.S. Department of Energy in the early 1990s. He also taught at the George Mason University Law School for several years and served from 2004 to 2007 on the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. He currently is a partner in the law firm of Baker Hostetler in Washington, D.C.
John Cohassey
John Cohassey received his B.A. in history from OU and his M.A. in history from Wayne State University. As a freelance writer, he has published numerous pieces in The Detroit NewsMetroTimes and other media. His first book,  Toast of the Town: The Life and Times of Sunnie Wilson (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), won an award of merit from the Historical Society of Michigan. In 2007, he served as a consultant for the acclaimed History Channel documentary  Hippies. His other publications include  American Cultural Rebels: Avant-Garde and Bohemian Artists, Writers and Musicians from the 1850s through the 1960s (Macfarland, 2008), which was co-authored with OU history emeritus professor Roy Kotynek, and Hemingway and Pound: A Most Unlikely Friendship (Macfarland, 2014).  His most recent book is  The 22nd Michigan Infantry and the Road to Chickamauga (Macfarland, 2018).
Robert Douglas Cope
R. Douglas Cope was associate professor of history at Brown University in Providence, R.I. He completed his B.A. in history at OU before pursuing graduate study at the University of Wisconsin, where he received his Ph.D. in 1987. Professor Cope was the author of numerous works on Latin American history, including The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994). He passed away in 2019 after teaching for 31 years at Brown.
Moureen Coulter
Moureen Coulter received her M.A. in history from Oakland University in 1978, under the tutelage of the late Gerald C. Heberle and Melvin Cherno.  She went on to earn the Ph.D. in British history from Indiana University in 1986.  Her publications include Property in Ideas: The Patent Question in Mid-Victorian Britain (1991) and Irish Women's Voices Past and Present, co-edited with Joan Hoff (1995).  After serving as Managing Editor of the  Journal of Women's History, she served as Book Review Editor for the American Historical Review from 1996 to 2014.
Brian Figot
Brian Figot received his B.A. in history and political science from OU in 1978 and his J.D. in 1981 from Wayne State University, where he was editor-in-chief of the  Wayne Law Review. In addition to practicing law in Franklin, Mich., he has held a variety of leadership positions over the past three decades, including serving as president of the  Eastern District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Administration and as vice-president of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan.
Robert Gibbs
As an undergraduate student at Oakland University, Robert Gibbs specialized in Russian history. After receiving his B.A. from OU in 1977, he went on to receive a master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan. Having founded the  Gibbs Planning Group in 1989, he now an internationally renowned expert on urban planning and one of the world's leading representatives of New Urbanism. He is the author of  Principles of Urban Retail Development and Planning (Wiley & Sons, 2012), and in 2012 he was honored as a William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecturer by the Clinton School of Public Policy at the University of Arkansas.  He has taught in Harvard University's Graduate School of Design Executive Education program since 1996, and in December 2019 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oakland University.
Garry J. Gilbert
Garry Gilbert received both his B.A. and M.A. degrees from OU's Department of History, writing his M.A. thesis under the direction of Professors Roy Kotynek, Carl Osthaus and Karen Miller. From 1998 to 2006, he served as executive editor of the largest daily newspaper in Oakland County, The Oakland Press, serving also as president of the Michigan Associated Press Editors Association. He then taught journalism at Michigan State University before returning to his alma mater in 2007. He currently is director of the journalism program at OU and has served on the board of the Oakland University Alumni Association. He was named the winner of the Oakland University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000.
Roy Gold
Roy Gold completed his B.A. in history at OU in 1973. After serving for many years as co-president of Cambridge Diagnostic Products, a laboratory manufacturing company in Fort Lauderdale, he entered politics and served from 2004 to 2012 as mayor of Coral Springs, Florida, a city of over 120,000. He also served as chair of the National League of Cities' Leadership Training Council.
Michael K. Honey
Michael Honey is one of the foremost historians of the civil rights movement in the United States. He received his B.A. in history from OU, his M.A degree from Howard University and his Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. He currently is the Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Endowed Professor of Humanities and History at the University of Washington in Tacoma. His first book,  Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), won the James A. Rowley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the Southern Historical Association's Charles Snydor Prize, and the Herbert Gutman Award from the University of Illinois Press. His second book,  Black Workers Remember: An Oral History of Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), received the Southern Historical Association's H.L. Mitchell Award and the Southern Regional Council's Lillian Smith Award. His third book,  Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award from the RFK Foundation, the OAH's Liberty Legacy Award, and the Southern Historical Association's H.L. Mitchell Award, as well as receiving significant media coverage, including features in The  Washington Post and on NPR's  Fresh Air. Professor Honey also has published an edited volume of labor speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., entitled  All Labor Has Dignity (Boston: Beacon Press, 2011).  In 2011 he was awarded a  Guggenheim Fellowship for work on the book  Sharecropper's Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African American Song Tradition, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.
Robert Kelver
After completing his B.A. in history at OU in 1973, Rob Kelver studied Mandarin at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan, and embarked on a career in international finance, specializing primarily in treasury sales. He spent more than two decades with Bank of America, most recently as senior vice president, before serving from 2008 to 2010 as executive director of MNC Treasury Sales with  J.P. Morgan in China.
Craig Korpela
After receiving his B.A. from the University of Michigan, Craig Korpela completed his M.A. in history at OU before proceeding to obtain his Ph.D. from Western Michigan University.  He is currently Associate Professor of History at Olivet College and serves as the advisor for the Olivet College chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.
Jennifer Laam
Jennifer Laam received her M.A. degree in history from OU in 2009. Her M.A. thesis, entitled "Flirting With Power: Women and Political Identity in the Early Republic," won Oakland University's 2009 Outstanding Thesis Award. After accepting a position in the University Development and Alumni Relations office at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, she launched a successful career as a novelist. Her historical novels include  The Fifth Daughter of the Tsar (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013), The Tsarina's Legacy (St. Martin's Griffin, 2016), and  The Lost Season of Love and Snow (St. Martin's Griffin, 2018).
Steve Lehto
After completing his B.A. in history at OU, Steve Lehto received his J.D. from the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, Calif. He currently practices law in Royal Oak, Mich., and has taught Michigan history at the University of Detroit Mercy as well as teaching consumer protection and trial practice at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. He is a prolific author. His popular history publications include  Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder (Momentum Books, 2006);  Michigan's Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton (Momentum Books, 2009); and  American Murder Houses (Berkley Press, 2015).  His most notable works are  Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation, (Chicago Review Books, 2010) and  Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow (Chicago Review Books, 2016), each of which featured a foreword written by noted car enthusiast Jay Leno.  Chrysler's Turbine Car was also named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.
Stephen Livesay
Stephen Livesay received his M.A. in history from OU and then completed his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1988. He taught history and education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., before moving into administration as vice president of Institutional Advancement at Bellhaven College in Jackson, Miss.  He then served as President of Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., from 2003 until his retirement in 2020. Upon his retirement, the college library was renamed in his honor.
Joshua Miller
As an undergraduate at OU, Joshua Miller was the recipient of the Holzbock Humanities Fellowship, completing his B.A. in history and political science in 2008. He proceeded to law school at the University of Maryland and received his J.D. magna cum laude in 2011. He has since returned to the state of Michigan to work as assistant prosecuting attorney in the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office.
Elizabeth Millwood
Elizabeth Millwood received both her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oakland University and is a specialist in oral history methodology.  While working as outreach coordinator with the  Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she was the recipient of the 2004 UNC Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award. She has also served as chair of the  International Committee of the Oral History Association.
Seth Schindler
After receiving his B.A. in history from OU, Seth Schindler completed his M.A. at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany, and his Ph.D. at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.  He then served as coordinator of the Global Studies Program at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Urban Development and Transformation at the University of Manchester (UK).
Timothy Shanahan
Timothy Shanahan received his B.A. in social science-history from Oakland University in 1972 and his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1980. As Professor of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, he authored or co-authored several dozen scholarly articles and book chapters. He was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor of Education at UIC in 2012.
John Stoll
John Stoll was a member of the OU chapter of Phi Alpha Theta as an undergraduate, receiving his B.A. in history in 2000. He worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and  Dow Jones Newswires for several years, covering issues related to Detroit and the auto industry, before serving as manager of global corporate news for the  Ford Motor Company, overseeing Ford's financial news communications around the world. In 2012, he accepted a position as Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal and  Dow Jones Newswires, being based in Sweden. He later returned to the U.S. as a columnist for the  Wall Street Journal, writing the weekly feature column "On Business."
Robert E. Sullivan
After receiving his B.A. in history summa cum laude from OU, Robert Sullivan went on to complete his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in European history at Harvard University. He currently is professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, where he also has served as director of the Erasmus Institute and as associate vice president for Academic Mission Support. Professor Sullivan is the author of numerous scholarly works, including  John Toland and the Deist Controversy: A Study in Adaptations (Harvard University Press, 1982),  Higher Learning and Catholic Traditions (University of Notre Dame Press, 2001) and Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power (Harvard University Press, 2009).
Tobi Voigt
Tobi Voigt received her B.A. in history from OU in 2004 and her M.A. in museum studies in 2006 from the  Cooperstown Graduate Program, a collaborative venture of the New York State Historical Society and the State University of New York. She has served as manager of statewide programs at the  New York State Historical Society and as Senior Director of Education and Outreach at the  Detroit Historical Society.  Since 2017 she has held the position of Director of Community Engagement at the Michigan History Center in Lansing.
Thomas Volgy
Thomas Volgy received his B.A. in history and political science from OU before completing his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at the University of Minnesota. He currently is professor of political science at the University of Arizona. He has authored or co-authored more than three dozen scholarly articles and seven books, including Politics in the Trenches: Citizens, Politicians, and the Fate of Democracy (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001), which has gone through several printings.
Cynthia Wilkey
After receiving her B.A. from OU in 1987, Cynthia Wilkey completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in history at Ohio State University. She currently is associate professor of history at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, where she also serves as coordinator of the Women's Studies program. In 2011, she won the Harrison Award for Outstanding Advising.
Nancy Zimmelman
Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil completed her B.A. in history at OU in 1983 and went on to receive an M.A. in history and a graduate certificate in archival administration from Wayne State University. She began working for the California State Archives in 1987 and from 2006 to 2018 she served as  State Archivist of California and Chief of the Archives Division within the California Office of the Secretary of State. She was the first woman in California history to hold that position.
Kristin Avey
Currently teaching history at Dakota High School in Macomb, Mich.
Wendy Baeckeroot
Currently teaching history at Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, Mich.
John Bernia
Currently principal of Oakview Middle School in Lake Orion, Mich.
Katie Blaszczyk
Currently teaching history at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.
Scott Bosek
Currently teaching Social Studies at Pontiac Academy, a college prep charter school in Pontiac, Michigan.
Geri Brandimarte
Currently teaching social studies at Cranbrook Kingswood Girls' Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Josh Carroll
Currently teaching history at Plymouth High School in Plymouth, Mich.
Anthony Costa
Currently teaching AP government and politics at Social Justice High School in Chicago, Ill.
Katherine Ellerbrock
Currently teaching social studies at Jefferson Middle School in St. Clair Shores, Mich.
Matthew Enochs
Currently teaching history at the Detroit Service Learning Academy, a public charter school in Detroit, Mich.
Kimberly Garner
Currently teaching at Cy-Fair High School (in the Cypress-Fairbanks School District) in Cypress, Texas.
Wayne Haney
Currently teaching history and serving as social studies department head at North Branch High School in Lapeer, Mich.
Kathie Hines
Currently teaching social studies at Andrews Osborne Academy, a coed boarding school in Willoughby, Ohio.
Rodger Hunwick
Currently teaching social studies at Parcells Middle School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.
Christopher Layson
Currently International Baccalaureate program coordinator at Utica Academy for International Studies in Utica, Mich.
Angela LoPiccolo
Currently teaching history at Dakota High School in Macomb, Mich.
Mathew MacLeod
Currently teaching history at Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Robert May
Currently teaching social studies in the Flint Community School System in Flint, Mich.
Patrick Moroschan
Currently teaching in the Wilmette Public School System in Wilmette, Ill.
Kathryn Quinn
Currently teaching students with autism in the Grosse Pointe School System in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
Evan Rokicki
Currently teaching social science at International Academy East in Troy, Mich.
Bryce Ropp
Currently teaching at Ann Arbor Learning Community, a public charter school in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michael Ruddy
Currently teaching social studies and serving as Model UN adviser at the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Jennifer Sponseller
Currently chair of the ESL Program at Idyllwild Arts Academy, a private boarding school in Idyllwild, Calif.
Robert Walker
Currently teaching at Herberger Young Scholars Academy, a school for gifted secondary students in Glendale, Ariz.
Timothy Wallace
Currently teaching social studies at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
J. Scott Wickson
Currently principal of Auburn Hills Christian School in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Michael Zimmerman
Currently teaching social studies and serving as assistant athletic director at Imagine Prep, a public charter high school in Surprise, Ariz.
John Bernia
middle school teacher, administrator, Lake Orion Schools
Geri Brandimarte
middle school teacher, Cranbrook/Kingswood Schools
Josh Carroll
history teacher, Plymouth High School
Karen Cullen
history teacher, International Academy West
Josh Foeller
Ph.D. program in history, Ohio State University
Cathy Johnson
M.B.A. program, University of Maryland
David Johnson
head of academic and career development for the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants
Elizabeth (Garon) LaFray
Ph.D. program in history, Central Michigan University
Angela LoPiccolo
history teacher, Dakota High School
Matt MacLeod
history teacher, Lahser High School
Jason Myers
Ph.D. program in history, Loyola University, Chicago
Joe Owens
Wayne State University Law School graduate
Jackie Sills
math teacher, Dakota High School
Tobi Voigt
Cooperstown graduate program in museum studies, manager of statewide programs & New York State History Day coordinator
Matt Zalewski
Wayne State University Law School graduate

Department of History

Varner Hall, Room 415
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
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(248) 370-3510
fax: (248) 370-3528