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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Retiring history prof looks back at 41-year tenure at A&M

Professor+Arnold+Krammer
Photo by Valerie Gunchick
Professor Arnold Krammer

After 41 years of teaching history, professor Arnold Krammer has shaped it as well, affecting the lives of thousands of students. Even now, as he retires this year, commemorated with a surprise send-off celebration Thursday, his fire for teaching remains.
“I have lots of things that I take into class, all kinds of historical items and things like that,” Krammer said. “When I put this in a student’s hands, many times I’ll see the light, and he’ll say ‘This really took place didn’t it?’ Yes, it did. And I’ve got you.”
As he gave his last lecture Thursday, friends, family, colleagues and students burst into the room. At the event, history professors R.J.Q. Adams, Chester Dunning and Terry Anderson spoke briefly and presented Krammer with a certificate lauding his accomplished career as well as his devotion to the students at Texas A&M. 
The event was planned and carried out by Adams and Chester Dunning, two colleagues and long-time friends of Krammer’s in the Department of History.
Adams was hired into the Department of History in 1974 and shared 41 years alongside Krammer, while Dunning was hired by the search committee on which Krammer sat in 1979.
“Those of us who’ve known him for 30 or 40 years decided that there needed to be a little bit more of a send off after 41 years for an incredibly wonderful lecturer who has taught more than 20,000 students,” Dunning said. “[Krammer] is deeply beloved and deserved a little bit of pizazz and not just a handshake and goodbye.”
As an accomplished author, Krammer has written more than a dozen books and over 50 peer-reviewed articles over such historical issues as the world wars and Nazi Germany — yet teaching has always remained a top priority for him.
An important consideration in teaching and learning history is remembering the mistakes of the past so as to ensure they’re not repeated, Krammer said.
“If I tell you that this third step outside in the staircase out here is loose and that everybody who has stepped on that third stair has slipped and fallen, that’s valuable information for you to know since we’re all taking the same staircase in life,” Krammer said. “So by teaching you history I can show you where all the mistakes were made. Why should you make the same mistakes?” 
While several professors in the Department of History have won the University Distinguished Teaching Award, Krammer is a part of the select few to have won the distinction twice, Dunning said.
“Only 2 percent of the faculty since 1955 have won the University Level Distinguished Teaching Award — 2 percent — and then only 2 percent of those have ever won it twice,” Dunning said.
Krammer said the event was a tightly-kept secret and an absolute surprise, leaving him completely perplexed.
“I was just left speechless. It’s not often that a history professor, at least me, is left speechless,” Krammer said. “First I was bewildered, I was just taken aback, all of a sudden all of my friends and all of my colleagues poured in.”
The surprise left Krammer emotionally overwhelmed and thankful for his fortunate time at Texas A&M.
“I was in tears, and so were some of the professors around me … really, it was wonderful. You know, if you’ve got to leave, it’s a bittersweet moment,” Krammer said. “But to do it with such acclaim, it was just breathtaking, it really was.
Now that he is retiring, Krammer said he hopes to travel and to tackle a number of projects, including writing a book about American intolerance during World War II and another about the Mexican-Nazi party.
 “We will travel, and I’ll write. I have about four projects backed up and now I’ll suddenly have the time to do them,” Krammer said. “Hopefully I will have plenty of things to do. I’ll miss my students like crazy, and the faculty members.”

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  • Dr. Krammer receives award from long-time colleague Dr. RJQ Adams.

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer shows off his award.

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer receives honorary pin while colleague Dr. Dunning enthusiastically applauds.

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer addresses students during his last lecture of his career at A&M. 

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Students give standing applause to Dr. Krammer, with DR. RJQ Adams, at the end of his last lecture class.

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Arnold Krammer says farewell to a lecture class for the last time.

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer shares his World War II German belt buckles. 

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer explains how German stamps were propaganda. 

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
  • Dr. Krammer outside his office building, the Melbern G. Glasscock Building, of 41 years. 

    Photo by Valerie Gunchick
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