e-Conversation. the newsletter of the School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas

A & H People: Dr. Monica Rankin

“When I was searching for the right university to begin my career, two things attracted me to UT Dallas: first, the students are some of the best I have encountered. They set high standards for themselves, and I feel that I learn a lot from them - for example, they introduced me to Facebook!”

Monica Rankin
Monica Rankin joined the UT Dallas faculty as assistant professor of history in Fall 2007 after a two-year term as a University Fellow.

“Second, the administration has always encouraged me to try new things in my courses. UT Dallas has helped me balance the demands of teaching and research. I have also received strong support and mentoring in my research activities from my colleagues.”

“My favorite experiences at the University happen in the classroom, when students become comfortable with the material and with their ability to interact in innovative ways with history. Seeing the students have fun with history is incredibly rewarding. One student created a video game from colonial Latin American art. Another group of students created a Judas effigy and staged a mock ‘burning’ to simulate a particular era of Mexican history. Students have cooked, written songs, created artwork and more.”

“A recent highlight was the spring 2008 Mexican Cultural History class that included a week-long trip to Mexico. The class allowed students to see first-hand many of the cultural and historical themes we had covered in the classroom.”

“Teaching has many rewards, and every once in awhile, they are tangible. It was an extraordinary compliment to receive the 2008 Arts & Humanities Faculty Member of the Year award. I'm constantly evaluating and reworking what I do in the classroom to improve my teaching skills, and being recognized by my students and my peers with this award is an indication that those efforts are paying off. I am aware of who the past award recipients have been and it is truly an honor to be in their company.”

“If a student asked me for career advice, I'd say ‘become a history professor...it's a great job.’”

From writing about the drug wars to the peso crisis to Mexican society during World War II, Dr. Monica Rankin has a broad understanding of Latin America, in particular the history of modern Mexico. She received her PhD in Mexican history from the University of Arizona at Tucson.