U history professor awarded Rosenblatt Prize

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When Robert Goldberg was called into President Michael Young’s office in the spring of 2007, he thought Young wanted to discuss the World Leaders Lecture Forum the Tanner Humanities Center organized.
“I brought my list of names for who would be good speakers at the lecture, set them down on his desk and began talking,” said Goldberg, director of the Tanner Humanities Center and a history professor.
Instead, President Young awarded Goldberg with the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence.
“It was completely out of the blue,” Goldberg said. “I knew I was nominated, but didn’t really think about it as graduation approached.”
The Rosenblatt Prize was first awarded in 1983 when Joseph Rosenblatt, a U alumnus, decided to create an endowment that would award $40,000 in grants to a faculty member who depicted excellence in teaching, leadership and research.
“It’s a very special type of gift,” David Chapman, graduate school dean and senior vice president for academic affairs, said. “It allows us to recognize the best of our professors and researchers.”
Eric Hinderaker, chair of the history department, nominated Goldberg because of his excellent teaching abilities and the leadership positions he holds.
Nominations for the Rosenblatt Prize are submitted months in advance. A selection committee sorts through approximately 40 names and narrows the list down to five for Young to choose from.
Goldberg directs and makes improvements to the lectures going on throughout the year. The Humanities Center has increased the number of teacher workshops it runs over the summer for public and private high school teachers.
“We’re worried about students getting bored in class and are trying to work on the curriculum taught to students in high school,” Goldberg said.
“What sets him apart from nearly every professor on campus is how extraordinarily effective he is as a teacher in both graduate and undergraduate levels,” Hinderaker said.
Goldberg almost always receives the highest ratings in student evaluations, he said.
Although he had a strong interest in history at a young age, it was not until his junior year at Arizona State University that Goldberg decided to become a history professor.
“My father wanted me to be an attorney, but here I was in college loving the research involved in my history classes,” he said. “Getting paid to study something that you have a passion for is the greatest thing ever.”
Besides teaching, Goldberg has found time to research conspiracy theories involving Julius Caesar, history of the Ku Klux Klan and various social movements of 20th-century American history. He is currently beginning research on the presidential election that decided between Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The election changed American politics by instigating the rise of the conservative movement, Goldberg said.
“It created a racial divide-black people who had voted for the Republican Party before the election will now vote 95 percent for the Democratic Party,” he said.
Goldberg plans to use the $40,000 grant for travel and to continue his research.
The Rosenblatt Prize is not the first award Goldberg has received. Throughout the years, he has been awarded the U’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Presidential Teaching Scholar Award. Recently, Goldberg received the Thomas L. Kane Award through the Mormon History Association.
“As a teacher, he has won every award he was qualified for and published eight books and numerous articles that have established him as a major figure in his field,” Hinderaker said.
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Robert Goldberg was awarded the Rosenblatt Prize for excellence and a $40,000 grant.