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History Professor Named Teacher of the Year by Mississippi Humanities Council

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 02:57pm | By: Ashlea Maddox

Dr. Matthew Casey

The Mississippi Humanities Council recently named Dr. Matthew Casey as The University of Southern Mississippi's Teacher of the Year. Casey, a professor of history at Southern Miss, will present “Connected Histories: Cuba, Haiti and the United States, 1900-1940” Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. in Gonzales Auditorium of the Liberal Arts Building on the Hattiesburg campus. This lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed with a reception.

Casey recently spoke about his upcoming lecture, saying that on the surface, Cuba, Haiti and the United States seem to be entirely different from one another, but actually their 20th century histories are so closely connected it is difficult to talk about them separately.

“Before World War II, U.S. foreign policy was obsessed with the Caribbean and troops were regularly deployed to Cuba, Haiti and other countries in the region,” Casey said.

“For many Americans, this history is unknown or overshadowed. Yet it is precisely this chapter of history that so strongly influences the current political situation in Haiti and the difficult diplomatic conversations between the U.S. and Cuba.”

Casey joined the faculty of Southern Miss in 2012 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches courses on Latin American and Caribbean history, and his publications on Haiti and Cuba have appeared in books and academic journals in the United States, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Earlier this year, Casey earned the University's Faculty Senate Junior Faculty Research Award.

He is finishing a book that traces the experiences of Haitians who circulated between their home country and eastern Cuba during the first four decades of the 20th century. Cambridge University Press will publish the book next year.

“I am very honored to receive this distinction, especially because I have seen so many examples of really great teaching among colleagues across the college. If this award will bring more students into my Latin American and Caribbean history courses then all the better,” Casey said.

Dr. Maureen Ryan, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, echoes MHC's acknowledgement of the importance of Dr. Matthew Casey's scholarly work.

“Dr. Casey, a relatively new faculty member in the Southern Miss Department of History and an expert in Latin American and Caribbean history, explores the historical intersection of Cuba, Haiti, and the U.S. that directly affects contemporary global politics,” Ryan said. 

In addition to being recognized for his research and work at Southern Miss, Casey was awarded a $300 honorarium by MHC. He will also be honored, along with other recipients from across the state, at a banquet and ceremony in Jackson, Miss. next spring.

MHC is a private nonprofit corporation funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities. MHC sponsors, supports and conducts a wide range of programs designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community and empower Mississippi's people with a vision for the future.

To learn more about Dr. Casey's work at Southern Miss, as well as the Department of History, visit