USM history professor receives humanities award


History professor Matthew Casey has been named The University of Southern Mississippi’s recipient of the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year Award. He will deliver a public lecture entitled “Connected Histories: Cuba, Haiti and the United States, 1900-1940,” on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room 108. The lecture will be followed by a reception in the LAB lobby.

Casey joined the Department of History in 2011 and has made major contributions to the department in several ways. He currently serves the department’s director of undergraduate studies, which includes chairing the Undergraduate Studies Committee that oversees

undergraduate curricula, the development of new courses and supervising academic advising. He is the co-chair of the Center for the Study of the Gulf South, which entails sponsoring guest lecturers (most recently, the Cuban writer Roberto Zurbano) and administering a special development fund that supports research activities by the Center’s affiliated faculty.

Casey was selected to serve on the Provost Search Advisory Committee, which recently concluded successfully. Casey also authored his first book on the experience of Haitians who circulated between their home country and on the experience of Haitians who circulated between their home country and eastern Cuba in the early 20th century, which has been accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press. Among his accolades include the awards he received for his research from the Association of Caribbean Historians and the USM Faculty Senate.

“(Casey) very much deserves this award,” said Douglas Chambers, a history professor. “He is the model of the active scholar-teacher whose work exemplifies the highest standards of our profession, even as he is in the early stages of his career as a professor. We are proud of (Casey) and so glad that the Mississippi Humanities Council chose to recognize this young professor so early in his career.”

Casey teaches courses in Latin American and Caribbean history as well as the HIS 102 course that most students are required to take.

“In all of my classes, I try to emphasize the skills in reading, writing and analysis that come in a history class, not just the details of the past events themselves,” Casey said. “I have had the opportunity to see many of my colleagues in the classroom, and I’m always impressed by the high level of teaching effectiveness. This makes the award that much more of an honor to receive.”

Each award recipient is required to deliver a public lecture, and Casey’s lecture will focus on periods in history of Haiti and Cuba that few people know about. He will try to illustrate how deeply connected they are to the history of the United States.

“This will involve a close look at U.S. foreign policy between the world wars–which was obsessed with both countries–as well as a recognition of the effects of U.S. policies on the lived experiences of people in Haiti and Cuba,” Casey said.

In addition to being recognized for his work and leadership at Southern Miss, Casey received a $300 honorarium from MHC. He will be honored among other recipients at the MHC’s annual awards banquet and ceremony in Jackson next spring.