By Douglas M. Campbell
Amy Fluker, an assistant history professor, received an honor of historical achievement in a socially-distanced ceremony held Aug. 27 in Debartolo Hall. She is now an endowed professor of history through the Robert W. Reeder I Memorial award.
“It’s pretty unprecedented and very exciting. Not an opportunity I thought I would ever have, or have until I’ve been in the game for 20 years,” she said.
Fluker joined Youngstown State University’s staff in 2018 after transferring from the University of Missouri. She researches 19th-century U.S. history and specializes in the Civil War era.
“People in the larger Midwest were really anxious to prove their contributions to the war mattered as much as the contributions to people on the eastern side of things. That’s what my work focuses on,” Fluker said.
The endowment is a gift from Robert W. Reeder III to YSU’s “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign and is named after his grandfather, Robert W. Reeder I. Reeder III and Charles Howell, dean of the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education, presented the endowment to Fluker at the ceremony.
“I think she is the perfect candidate,” Howell said.
He believes there is much to learn from Fluker’s teachings.
“What we can learn about each other from our monuments, our celebrations and our stories is a really fascinating field, which never would have occurred for me to investigate,” Howell said.
Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, worked with the Reeder family to establish the endowment at YSU. He mentioned one particular factor which helped Fluker receive the award.
“It is very interesting because Dr. Fluker won this endowment because her plans for engagement with students were just wonderful; she wants to focus a lot on local history,” McFadden said.
The endowment will help fund Fluker’s next research project on ghost stories told by Civil War veterans.
“They date from 1865 to 1900, looking at these ghost stories not just as wild tales, superstitions or folklore you can start to understand how they were dealing with trauma from the war,” Fluker said.
She is most excited about how the endowment will allow her to start a few different initiatives that will enrich her students’ education.
“The bulk of the endowment will be spent on bringing guest speakers to campus, arranging conferences and providing opportunities for professionalization and networking for our students,” Fluker said.
She is also planning historic field trips in conjunction with her course.
“One of the things that made me fall in love with history was traveling to historic sites, and Northeast Ohio is incredibly rich,” Fluker said.
She offers a bit of advice for students considering a history major.
“Come on down! I think students often have trouble understanding the utility of a history degree because it’s not a one-way ticket to a job,” Fluker said. “Being a historian is all about skills, telling stories, thinking about humanity and our place in the world … it’s a really rich field and I think [it is] a lot of fun.”