Working on the Old Stomping Grounds

History Professor Stephen Francis Lives Dream of Teaching at Alma Mater

Weber State University has influenced associate history professor Stephen Francis’ life in many ways. He enjoyed his years as an undergraduate so much that after graduating with a major in history and a minor in English in 1991, he made it his goal to someday return to WSU as a professor. Seven years later, he did just that. Since then Francis has worked his way up the ranks of professorship and says he is fortunate to live his dream of working at his alma mater.
Francis recently returned from a summer at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in England, where he participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute. The program focused on studying the image of Jews in medieval Europe and England.

“The NEH institutes are set up to help professors improve their teaching by focusing on a particular topic and studying it in in greater detail,” said Francis, whose research focus is the Renaissance and Reformation period in England.

Through extensive reading, he explored how the unfounded negative stereotypes of Jews came about and how those stereotypes still continue today. Francis looks forward to teaching a special topics course in spring 2015 that will allow students to understand this centuries-long trend.

“My department is always willing to let me run special topics courses and experimental courses,” Francis said. “I appreciate that because I get to try new things and explore new ideas. I love to teach lower- and upper-division undergraduate courses because I get to know the students well. I enjoy the variety of subject matter I get to teach, and I would never be able to do either of those things at another institution.”