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Jantzen’s contribution to European history earns Distinguished Scholar Award

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College recognized the outstanding scholarship of a faculty member in a special presentation Feb. 4 during the first convocation of the spring semester.

Brad Born, vice president for academic affairs, presented the David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar Award to Mark Jantzen, associate professor of history.

The award, given periodically since 1985, recognizes important achievements of faculty in research, publication and other contributions to their academic discipline.

Jantzen, who joined the Bethel faculty in 2001, has published an article or presented a scholarly paper every year since then, “a high level of productivity that now includes 12 articles or book chapters, 18 academic conference presentations, six book reviews and 17 presentations to church and other local audiences,” Born said, adding, “Less formal offerings have included several convocation and Life Enrichment presentations in this very space, with memorable titles such as ‘Flunking History Could Kill You,’ or my favorite, ‘The Trouble with Marrying Lutheran Boys.’”

Jantzen has also been involved in “sustained ambitious scholarly projects that reach beyond our college boundaries,” Born noted. “While earning his Ph.D. in Modern European History at the University of Notre Dame, Mark was awarded a Fulbright Grant for dissertation research at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2005 and 2006, he was named a Summer Institute Fellow for a program in law culture, and theology at Yale University and in Berlin.”

In summer 2010, Jantzen and his colleague Mary Sprunger, on the history faculty of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., organized “Marginal or Mainstream?: Anabaptists, Mennonites and Modernity in European History,” an international history conference that brought together more than 20 presenters and about 150 participants from across North America and western Europe.

Jantzen’s most recent full-length publications include The Danzig Mennonite Church: Its History and Origins, 1569-1919 (2007, Pandora Press), which he co-edited and annotated with Bethel archivist John Thiesen, and Mennonite German Soldiers: Nation, Religion and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880, published just this past fall by the University of Notre Dame Press.

“With this book,” Born said, “Mark has made a significant contribution to his academic discipline, and for this achievement Mark is being recognized with the 2011 David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar Award.

“Focusing on eastern Prussia from the late 18th- to late 19th-century, Mennonite German Soldiers traces the development of the Mennonite minority living in the Vistula Delta region, in particular that group’s passage from national indifference to national loyalty, manifest in part by its assimilation into military service to the German state,” Born continued.

“Reviewers have praised the book for its rigorous research and lucid style and they have noted its significance for scholars of German nationalism, the intersection of church and state in modern Europe and the role of gender and the family in state formation. Margaret Lavinia Anderson of the University of California-Berkeley cites this as one of a handful of books that ‘transform[s] our understanding of minority-majority relations in a multi-religious environment’ [and calls it] ‘required reading for graduate seminars in 19th-century European history’ for its relevance to scholars working in German, Polish, Russian and Jewish history.”

Born concluded: “Mark, with this award we signal our respect and admiration for your achievement and we thank you for modeling distinguished scholarship and for integrating your life of scholarship into your vocation of teaching at Bethel College.”

The David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar Award is endowed by the estate of Earl and Meta Leisy Eymann, Bethel alumni and ardent Bethel supporters during their lifetimes. Their daughters Carol and Elaine and Elaine’s husband Roland Stucky established the scholarship, naming it to honor their professor, Bethel’s legendary “Uncle Davy” Richert, and their affection for him.

The first Richert Distinguished Scholar Award went to Robert Regier, professor of art, in 1985. Before 2011, it was most recently awarded to Don Lemons, professor of physics, in 2008.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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