Like many in my profession, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden and violent death of Ethan Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. As I’m writing this, many of the details of today’s shooting in Jobe Hall on the Delta State campus remain unknown. What we do know – that Dr. Schmidt was gunned down, in his faculty office – puts my friend and former student in a long and baffling list of Americans of all ages murdered by men with guns.
Ours is not usually considered a dangerous occupation, but in today’s milieu of seemingly unchecked (and depressingly un-responded to) gun violence, I am unsure whether any profession is truly safe. My thoughts, and those of many, many others, go out to Ethan’s wife Liz, his colleagues, family, and especially his three young children.
I was not Dr. Schmidt’s dissertation director at the University of Kansas – that honorable job went to my colleague Paul Kelton. But I did know him, and taught him, and felt considerable pride as he progressed through our Ph.D. program, defended his thesis, accepted first one and then another tenure-track job, and published his book The Divided Dominion: Social Conflict and Indian Hatred in Early Virginia (University Press of Colorado, 2015).
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