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2009 Distinguished Alumnus Jim Phillips with Dr. Virginia Boynton

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Jim Phillips Chosen for History's 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award

May 4, 2009

Jim Phillips, who graduated from WIU with his B.A. in History in 1998 and his M.A. in History in 2000, was honored with the History Department's 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was presented with a plaque commemorating the award, by Dr. Virginia Boynton, History Department Chair, at the 34th Annual WIU History Conference on Saturday, May 2. Upon accepting the plaque, Mr. Phillips spoke eloquently about his experiences with the community of historians at Western in the 1990s, and in particular recalled the support he had received from the late Dr. Darrell Dykstra, at that time the Department's Director of Graduate Studies. He commented that "In my office, I have my graduation picture with Dr. Dykstra. On rough days I look up, see his smiling face, and I can hear him encouraging me forward - give 'em hell. I would not trade these memories, what I learned, or my experiences at Western for anything. I have always felt the History Department has tried to develop scholars, but also build a sense of community. I believe this tradition continues today. I learned more than content and how to be a scholar from my professors. I learned how to be a good teacher and mentor to my students."

Jim Phillips has served as the Honors Program Director at Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois, since February 2008. He administers the Honors Program, assists in developing and monitoring Honors Program projects and curriculum, oversees and participates in promotion of the Honors Program, maintain relationships with Honors Program alums, and assess the Honors Program on a yearly basis.

Mr. Phillips has also been a tenured Professor of History and Political Science at Highland since August 2005, where he primarily teaches Western Civilization surveys, European history (with an emphasis on German history), and Middle East history. He also teaches US history surveys, Colonial/American Revolution history, Comparative Politics, State and Local Government, and Introduction to Political Science.

Jim Phillips began his career at Highland as an Academic Advisor, in August 2000, immediately after graduating with his M.A. in History from WIU. In July 2004 he became Highland's Transfer Coordinator, before joining Highland's teaching faculty a year later.

In addition to chairing the Honors Committee at Highland, Mr. Phillips is Co-Advisor of the Highland History Club, Treasurer and Negotiations Committee Chair of Local 1957 of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and is a member of the College-Wide Code of Ethics Committee, the Assessment of Student Learning Steering Committee, the Social Sciences Program Review Committee, the Commencement Committee, and the Insurance Committee. Starting in July 2009, he will serve as a Board Member of the WIU Alumni Council.

Mr. Phillips' current research focuses on Germany, specifically the collapse of the Weimar Germany and Hitler's rise to power. Most recently he has given public presentations on "Chasing the Mongoose: American Foreign Policy in Cuba, 1960-1963" and on "The Duel Between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr" as part of the American History Speaker Series at the Freeport Public Library.

The WIU History Department is delighted to have had this opportunity to honors one of its distinguished alumni with this award.

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