Kristi DiClemente enjoys planning, organizing and staying busy.
DiClemente intends to put those skills to good use in her new role as chair of Mississippi University for Women’s Department of History, Political Science, & Geography (HPG).
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to continue the work of my predecessor, Dr. (Erin) Kempker, and keep moving our department forward,” said DiClemente, an associate professor of history. “I don’t know what the future will bring, but my main areas of focus right now are in building a student community through activities and events and building community relationships.
“Two reasons students come to The W is our size and they feel like they are part of a family. We know our students, and they know us, and I want our students to get to know each other better. I want to reinforce that feeling of camaraderie by providing opportunities for us to spend more time together.”
DiClemente said she wants to showcase the department’s National History Day regional competition in February and NEW Leadership® Mississippi, which advances The W’s historic mission to promote women’s leadership in the state. She hopes to strengthen The W’s connection with high school and middle school teachers and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History through the National History Day regional competition. DiClemente plans to assist Dr. Chanley Rainey in the work she does with NEW Leadership® Mississippi to educate women in college about politics and leadership and encourage them to get involved in the political arena.
DiClemente, who has been at The W since 2015, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Millersville University (Pennsylvania) in 2001. She received her master’s degree in medieval studies from Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute in 2006. DiClemente earned her doctorate in history from the University of Iowa in 2015.
Kempker knows the Department of History, Political Science, & Geography will be in good hands under DiClemente’s leadership.
“I am so excited about Dr. D’s leadership of the department,” Kempker said. “She is one of the most creative people I know, and she brings fresh insight and perspective to the work. In her time at The W, she has spearheaded curriculum changes in departmental programs, organized and executed recruitment plans and history events, especially those surrounding National History Day and been an active and dynamic member of our department and the university.”
DiClemente enjoys leading collaborative projects and figuring out ways to make wild ideas reality and is looking forward to working with the talented instructors in HPG to enhance the educational experiences for students at The W.
“It is difficult to overstate how lucky I am to work with the people in this department,” DiClemente said. “I always say our department is small but mighty and I genuinely believe we are the most effective and dynamic department on campus. We have a lot of strengths. We all have different teaching methods, which means our students get to see a variety of ways to be an educator. This is critical for students who want to go into teaching or public history education at museums and other historical sites. We also are all willing to pitch in and work together on departmental projects because we know that great things come from collaboration. We are better as a team and being able to rely on colleagues to be a part of the team is incredible.”
To that end, DiClemente has had to lean on her colleagues in HPG and other departments in her first three weeks as chair. She said other department chairs, including Kempker, were incredibly helpful and welcoming and helped guide her in the right direction. She also said she couldn’t do any part of her job without help from Trish Caston in Academic Affairs, Dr. Sheila Morgan in the Connie & Tom Kossen Center for Teaching & Learning (KCTL) and Delilah Schmidt, the HPG navigator.
“It is the willingness of colleagues across campus to help out that really sets us apart from other places,” DiClemente said. “I hope to repay those helpfulness debts soon.”
DiClemente will teach fewer classes as chair to put some focus on administrative duties. This semester, she said she will teach two online classes: HIS 101: World Civilizations to 1600 and Renaissance, Reformation, and Revolution, a class about early modern Europe that goes from the Italian Renaissance to the French and Haitian Revolutions. Next semester, she plans to teach another online HIS 101 class and either medieval Christianity or medieval women.
In addition to all of that, DiClemente will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, in November for a Southeastern Medieval Association conference, where she will present on active learning ideas for the medieval classroom and discuss ways faculty can engage students with hands-on activities. The focus will be on papermaking thanks to an APIL grant she received from the KCTL to purchase papermaking supplies.