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Lincoln, the Constitution and the Civil War Exhibit: Faculty Panel

Lincoln Across the Disciplines

Lincoln Across the Disciplines: How Lincoln and the Civil War Changed America
Faculty Panel Discussion

Thursday, February 5
3:15-4:30
Lavery Library Keating Room

The topics of Lincoln and the Civil War are mainly recognized as important to history departments and historians; however President Lincoln and the Civil War have changed America in ways that relate to any number of disciplines.  Come hear some of St. John Fisher College's esteemed professors as they discuss this topic from their own disciplinary perspective.  

Dr. John Kirchgessner, Professor of Nursing

My talk will discuss how the Civil War influenced the advancement and modernization of medicine and nursing during the post-war era -  addressing such things as morbidity and mortality rates, the societal role of women, surgical techniques and the development of the public health system in America. 

John C. Kirchgessner, PhD, RN is a nurse historian, whose research has focused on the nursing profession during the first half of the 20th century.  His research explores the relationship between nurses and industry, specifically the work of nurses and the care they provided to West Virginia coal miners and their families. He has written and presented extensively on the West Virginia Miners Hospitals, the 1907 Monongah mine disaster, and public health in coal mining towns during the 1930s and 1940s.  In addition, Dr. Kirchgessner has also investigated how hospitals’ nursing departments during the mid-20th century were often income generators for their perspective institutions and not the cost centers hospital administrators traditionally claimed.  He is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at St. John Fisher College and Assistant Director of the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry at the University of Virginia. Dr. Kirchgessner co-authored The Voice of Professional Nursing Education: A 40-Year History of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, has written book chapters, and has published in refereed journals.  His most recent book is: Nursing Rural America: Perspectives from the Early 20th Century.  His research has been presented at international and national research meetings. 

Dr. Arlette Miller Smith, Professor of English

Speaker Bio

Arlette Miller Smith, PhD Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies; Director of African American Studies; and adjunct faculty member in the Executive Leadership Doctoral Program at St. John Fisher College (Rochester & Syracuse area cohorts)

When your life teaches, your heart sings and your soul writes...then you have become acquainted with the passions of Arlette Miller Smith

Miller Smith, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is the founding and immediate past Dean of Fisher’s Office of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Programs. She also is a well-known keynote speaker, dramatist, workshop leader, vocalist, and educator. Additionally, Miller Smith is the founder and artistic director of AKOMA, Rochester’s African American Women’s Gospel Choir.

Miller Smith’s academic work centers on the intersections of the raced, gendered, classed, and artistic voice of African American women, in particular; the written production of 19th century African American women writers-speakers; socio-political movements in African American life, particularly the colored club women’s movement and the modern civil rights movement. In short, Miller Smith is interested in the impact of the exterior (public) life on the interior lives of African Americans. More...

Dr. Carolyn Vacca, Professor of History

Speaker Bio

Carolyn S. Vacca is an associate professor and department chair of history at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York and also serves as the officially appointed Monroe County Historian. An Americanist, Vacca teaches courses in local and state history, as well as courses in public history and gender studies. She is the author of A Reform Against Nature, an examination of the language of the nineteenth century woman suffrage debates and its impact on our notions of citizenship. Among the articles Vacca has authored are two explorations of the 1964 Rochester Race Riots, as well as several book reviews in journals such as the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and Afro Americans In New York Life and History. More...

Moderator - Dr. Wesley Renfro, Professor of Political Science

Moderator Bio

Wesley B. Renfro has been an assistant professor of political science at the College since 2010. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Middle Eastern History at Heidelberg University and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Connecticut. His areas of teaching and research expertise include international relations, the American presidency, and presidential psychology and decision-making. He is the author of nine articles and chapters on these topics. His book on international politics in the Middle East will be published at the end of 2015.

Dr. Tim Madigan, Professor of Philosophy

Tim Madigan portraitAbraham Lincoln:
Pragmatist Par Excellence

It is often said that pragmatism (an approach that tests the truth of a belief in terms of the success of its practical application) is the quintessential American philosophy. If that is so, then Abraham Lincoln can be considered one of its best proponents, as can be witnessed through his masterful  Emancipation Proclamation and (as the 2012 movie Lincoln demonstrates) his ability to keep together a volatile political coalition and find votes in the most unlikely of situations.

Tim Madigan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John Fisher College and on September 17, 2012 gave the annual Constitution Day Lecture at Alfred University on “Foreign Policy and the Emancipation Proclamation”, on how Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation helped to prevent both England and France from recognizing the Confederacy.

Dr. Tom Tyson, Professor of Accounting and Finance

Speaker Bio

Tom Tyson received a PhD in Accounting from Georgia State University and has been a continually active scholar with 70 peer-reviewed publications and over 85 presentations in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, U.K. and U.S. An article in the 2003 issue of Advances in Accounting cited Dr. Tyson as one of the five most prolific accounting authors among 201 individuals receiving PhDs in Accounting in 1987. More...

The Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract System: A Critical Assessment of Accounting's Pivotal Role

“The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery” [Du Bois, 1935, p. 30].

Thomas N. Tyson (St. John Fisher College)
Richard K. Fleischman (John Carroll University)
David Oldroyd (Durham University)

A common feature of accounting practice throughout the ages has been the protection/enforcement of property rights/obligations by having legally binding contracts backed by accounts to monitor their performance. In that respect, the labor contract system (LCS) implemented by the Freedmen's Bureau (FB) was not unusual. And on the face of it, working under a year-long contract might seem to have been genuinely intended to be in the freedmen's best interests. That being said, contracts which bind parties with asymmetrical power, include disproportionate performance obligations, incorporate inequitable enforcement provisions, and specify onerous penalty clauses can be both unjust and exploitative. In our view, the FB's LCS should be so characterized. More...

Exhibit Sponsors

The exhibit was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.