Professor appointed as history fellow

Distinguished professor of history Michael Oberg was recently elected as a fellow of the New York Academy of History.

According to the NYAH website, the organization is a select group of distinguished “historians, independent scholars … museum curators and administrators, educators, archivists and others with a demonstrated record of achievement and publications.” The group is housed at Columbia University in Manhattan.

NYAH membership is only attained by invitation. It is a professional organization that is devoted to the study and teaching of the history of the state of New York. NYAH also advocates for preserving the state’s historical records.

“An organization that advocates for liberal arts, such as history, is important during a time when liberal arts have been under somewhat of an attack lately,” Oberg said.

Oberg’s latest book Peacemakers: The Iroquois, the United States, and the Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794—which is a history of the Treaty of Canandaigua—was published July 31, 2015 and serves as an example of what type of work the NYAH values.

A member of the Geneseo faculty since 1998, Oberg said he was surprised when he found out he had been elected as a fellow of the NYAH. He even added that he had little prior knowledge of the organization before being selected. Since becoming a member, however, Oberg noted that he is eager to find out more about the NYAH.

“It’s very pleasing to find out that what I am doing for a living is valued by my academic peers,” he said. “It’s very possible to write a book and never find out what people learned from it or if it matters, so this was a nice surprise.”

Being elected as a fellow to the NYAH is not Oberg’s only achievement. He also received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003, a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2013 and was also named a SUNY distinguished professor in 2015.    

According to the SUNY website, the Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence are honors that are awarded in order to recognize consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

Oberg said he is  honored by his invitation into the NYAH. “There are some people in the New York Academy of History that I really look up to,” he said. “To know that other historians find value in my work is a great source of validation.”

While being elected to a society like the NYAH is an individual achievement, Oberg emphasized that he sees it as a victory for the entire Geneseo history department. Oberg is one of eight history professors at Geneseo to have won a Chancellor’s award.

“This is a nice reward. It’s good for the SUNY system to get involved with the NYAH, especially the Geneseo history department,” he said. “A lot of the work I’m able to do is due to my hardworking colleagues who help push me. While the department is small, I think it is—if not the best—one of the best undergraduate history departments in the SUNY system.”