I don't write often about existing academic programs. New ones, sure, like this one at N.C. A&T, for instance, and this one at High Point University. But existing ones? Rarely, if at all. Professors teach, students learn, lather, rinse, repeat. Where's the news in that, right?
There's one program that seems to be an exception to my coverage blackout, and that's the museum studies program at UNCG. This master's degree program offered through the history department is for those interested in working as curators, educators and managers at museums, historical sites, battlegrounds, government agencies and anyplace else there's an historical story to be told.
This week, I wrote a story about the new highway marker that captures the history of Greensboro's old polio hospital in just 23 words and abbreviations. The dedication ceremony is Saturday, and the students enrolled in the program did much of the heavy lifting to get state approval for the sign. (This group of students got their master's degrees in May, by the way.)
In 2018, it was museum studies students who put together the comprehensive Charles B. Aycock exhibit that's up on the mezzanine level of the UNCG (formerly Aycock) Auditorium. I wrote a lot about the building's name change, and I capped off my coverage with a feature on the exhibit that was part of the decision.
A couple of years earlier, I featured the Cone mill village exhibit that museum studies students created at Revolution Mill. One of the students involved in that project put together a separate exhibit on Greensboro during World War I. I wrote about that, too.
I'll admit to some bias here: I'm interested in place and curious about the past. Also, News & Record readers love look-back stories, and the UNCG program focuses largely on projects with a Greensboro focus. The work being done here, in other words, scratches both of those personal and professional itches.
UNCG's museum studies program was directed for years by Benjamin Filene, now the chief curator of the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. The current program leader — "director of public history" is the official UNCG title — is Anne Parsons, who for now is an assistant professor of history. I say "for now" because she was awarded tenure and a promotion in March and will start the new academic year as an associate professor.