North Dakota State University divided over award to one of their own

Historians in the News

A handful of faculty at North Dakota State University question whether one of their colleagues is truly distinguished.

Four faculty members have protested to administrators about history professor Tom Isern receiving the distinguished professor award, a new NDSU initiative that honors top faculty with a $20,000 raise and prestigious title.

While the critics say Isern’s character doesn’t measure up, his supporters say his accomplishments make him deserving of the award. The conflict is reigniting flames in a history department that’s been divided for three years.

Those who protested say Isern bullied colleagues and caused the rift in the history department, some of which stems back to a 2004 plagiarism accusation against another professor.

The faculty also call Isern an easy grade whose scholarly work isn’t on par with a top research university.

“Apparently the administrators have a different definition of scholarly than I do,” said David Danbom, another history professor who was nominated for the same award.

Danbom has taught history at NDSU since 1974 and is close to retiring.

Isern’s supporters say he is “top drawer” and that they are disappointed his colleagues would tear him down....

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