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Visiting Assistant Professor of History Miles Smith IV (Madeleine Jepsen/Collegian)
Vis­iting Assistant Pro­fessor of History Miles Smith IV (Madeleine Jepsen/Collegian)

In an envi­ronment where his­to­rians struggle to find both steady employment and aca­demic freedom, members of the Hillsdale College History Department are blessed with both, according to new Vis­iting Assistant Pro­fessor of History Miles Smith IV.
Smith, a native of Sal­isbury, North Car­olina, spe­cializes in studies of the Old South. Growing up in a small, rural Southern town, Smith was sur­rounded by history.
“[I] grew up just thinking about history,” he said. “My dad was inter­ested in it. My grand­father was inter­ested in it. I got to college, and hated my original major. When I switched to history, I was fas­ci­nated by every­thing. It was a mind­blowing expansion of all I can know.”
He grad­uated from the College of Charleston in 2006, with a B.A. in history. Smith went on to receive a Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian Uni­versity in 2013, where he became fast friends with another Hillsdale pro­fessor, Dis­tin­guished Vis­iting Pro­fessor of History Samuel Negus.
When Negus informed Smith of the tem­porary opening left while Pro­fessor of History Bradley Birzer taught at Uni­versity of Col­orado Boulder, Smith leaped at the oppor­tunity to teach at Hillsdale, due to the college’s well-known rep­u­tation for aca­demic freedom and teaching based on first prin­ciples.
Thus far, Smith has taught four dif­ferent courses at Hillsdale: Western Her­itage, American Her­itage, Sec­tion­alism and the American Civil War, and Jack­sonian America.
As a scholar of the Old South, Smith said that Sec­tion­alism and the Civil War was the class he found himself most com­fortable teaching. He went on to say that teaching American Her­itage was his favorite, because his stu­dents connect with it the most and actively engage with the course material.
“I teach the best stu­dents in the world,” Smith said.
Sarah Strubing, a freshman con­sid­ering a history major, took Smith’s Western Her­itage class last semester.
“I think he’s a really intel­ligent man who enjoys coming to class,” she said. “He’s also really approachable. I always enjoyed starting off my days with his class, even if it was early in the morning.”
Smith said he hopes to help stu­dents “gain a sense of humility that ought to come along with studying at a place like Hillsdale.”
He said most people do not have the oppor­tunity to gain knowledge of the higher things, and that Hillsdale stu­dents ought to rec­ognize and be humbled by that.
“Without an accom­pa­nying mastery of at least one-tenth its measure of grace, such eru­dition is worthless,” Smith said, quoting John Quincy Adams.
Smith said that this “nexus of knowledge of grace” is what he aspires to teach his stu­dents.
“It’s okay to be elegant and edu­cated. We don’t have to act like automatons,” he said.
According to Smith, the Hillsdale faculty has been a shining example of this link between ele­gance and eru­dition. In addition to main­taining his old friendship with Negus, Smith has taken the oppor­tunity to make many new friends in the history department and beyond.
“Everyone has been con­sumate pro­fes­sionals. I struggle to think of a single time anyone has been unwel­coming on this campus,” he said.
Apart from the snow and cold weather, Smith said the biggest chal­lenge lies in living so far away from his friends and family back home. Quoting Pulitzer-prize-winning his­torian Daniel Walker Howe, he called this the “tyranny of dis­tance.” However, because of the ease of modern com­mu­ni­cation and the strong network of friends he has built here in Hillsdale, Smith said this tyranny is easily overcome.
Smith’s plans for next year are unde­cided, although he said he hopes to stay at Hillsdale.

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Michael Lucchese
Michael Lucchese ‘18 is majoring in American Studies, and is a member of the Dow Journalism Program. In addition to the Collegian, he has also contributed to The Federalist, Acculturated, Conservative Review, and several other publications. In 2015, he reported on national security and foreign policy for Breitbart News. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Michael Lucchese Show on Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM. e-mail: mlucchese@hillsdale.edu Twitter: @MichaelLucchese