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Released November 6, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Because of an abundance of qualified applicants and a shortage of positions, students graduating with advanced degrees in history do not typically land tenure-track teaching jobs at the university or college level right off the bat.

But a broad-based curriculum at The University of Southern Mississippi that concentrates on many areas of American history has helped two recent graduate students do just that.

Scott Catino, who received his Ph.D. from Southern Miss this year, accepted a tenure-track job at the University of South Carolina at Aiken after completing his doctoral dissertation on Italian Americans and the fascist experience in the United States from 1922-1941.

Jonathan Sarnoff, who also received his Ph.D. at Southern Miss this year, accepted a tenure-track job at Limestone College, a private liberal arts institution in South Carolina, after finishing his doctoral dissertation on women's organizations in antebellum New Orleans.

Dr. Greg O'Brien, director of graduate studies for the history department, credits Catino and Sarnoff's initial job success - in part - to the strength of the program at Southern Miss.

"Often, colleges and universities don't consider someone right out of graduate school for a tenure-track job unless they've got something very valuable," Dr. O'Brien said. "We train our folks who are getting their Ph.D. in many areas of American history, so that they are able to teach a wide variety of subjects, from colonial history to today.

"A lot of us who teach got our Ph.D. at other places and specialize in particular areas of American history. But we expect our students to be more broadly trained and more marketable to schools."

Two other students who earned their master's degree received multiyear fellowships to complete doctoral work at major research universities.

Richard Conway, M.A. 2003, is attending Tulane University on a five-year fellowship to obtain a Ph.D. in Latin American History, and Martin Loicano, M.A. 2002, received a Sage Fellowship in 2003 from Cornell University to fund five years of study towards completion of a Ph.D. in its Asian Studies Program.

"This outstanding achievement by our graduate students is a credit to the high quality of our faculty and their devotion to our graduate program," O'Brien said. "We have one of the best history graduate programs in the southeast, especially in southern and military history, and several of our current students have received grants and fellowships; others are already teaching at community colleges throughout Mississippi and the southeast region."

Dr. Charles Bolton, chair of the history department, said that "despite a very tight job market, our Ph.D. graduates continue to find permanent academic jobs. That speaks to the high quality of our program and to the abilities of our graduate students."

More than 50 students are currently enrolled in a history graduate program at Southern Miss, with an average of 11 students earning master's degrees and two students receiving doctoral degrees every year. Further information about Southern Miss history programs can be found on the Web at or by sending an e-mail message to Dr. O'Brien at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM