MSU-Meridian faculty member, an MHC Teacher of the Year, gives lecture

Contact:  Lisa Sollie
Story by Sarah Nicholas

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Toby G. Bates, an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University-Meridian, is the 2021 Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year at MSU for his outstanding work in the humanities.White male with glasses in gray pinstriped suit, white shirt and MSU tie

Bates will deliver the MSU College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Lecture March 2. Titled “We are all Historians–Historical Thinking in Understanding Contemporary Affairs,” his public presentation begins at 4 p.m. in MSU’s Riley Theater in Meridian. The lecture also will be livestreamed on WebEx. To participate, visit For more information, contact MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences at 662-325-2646.

His award also includes a $400 honorarium.

The Mississippi Humanities Council, funded by the U.S. Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities, provides public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi and pays tribute annually to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields at each of Mississippi’s institutions of higher learning.

Bates’s presentation will focus on the “complex” relationship between history and memory.

“My presentation deals with the often heard comments regarding history—‘I hated history in school,’ and for the current students, ‘I hate studying history.’ My presentation explains that a dislike for history often is better described as a dislike for how instructors teach the subject of history,” the Tupelo native explained.

“Every single day, whether consciously or otherwise, we all deal with elements of history and memory,” Bates said. “Once such a relationship is understood, the subject of history becomes much more approachable and relatable.”  

Richard V. Damms, head of the Division of Arts and Sciences at MSU-Meridian, said Bates’ teaching, research and community-engaged scholarship exemplifies the MHC’s ideal that “the humanities are for everyone.”  

“He has delivered dozens of public talks and workshops to teachers, community organizations, and radio and television audiences across the region served by the Meridian campus, usually on topics relating to the importance of historical thinking and understanding to contemporary affairs. For many in this community, Dr. Bates is the ‘voice’ of history. He is a fine representative of both the humanities in action and the MSU-Meridian campus in this region,” Damms said.

A faculty member at the MSU-Meridian campus since 2008, Bates specializes in the study of 20th-century United States, the Cold War and Latin America.

In 2020 he completed a three-year term on the board of directors for the Mississippi Historical Society and is the current co-host for “Mornings in Meridian,” on WALT radio.

Bates is the author of, “The Reagan Rhetoric: History and Memory in 1980s America,” a 2011 Northern Illinois University Press publication, in addition to numerous articles and book reviews.

Bates was the 2018 recipient of MSU’s Office of Research and Economic Development Travel Grant, the 2011 Faculty Research Award for the Meridian Division of Arts and Sciences, and the 2011 Meridian Star Reader’s Choice Teaching Award.

He earned his Ph.D., master’s degree and bachelor’s degree, all in history, from the University of Mississippi.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 323 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs, 15 master’s programs, and 27 undergraduate academic majors offered in 14 departments. It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. 

For more details about the College of Arts and Sciences, visit To learn more about MSU-Meridian, visit .

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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