Ancient history professor revives medieval times

By Michelle Cordonnier

October 30, 2012

Missouri Western recently enhanced the history department by adding a new professor to the staff to teach Ancient and Medieval History and Early Modern History. Eventually, Dr. Jay Lemanski will help to expand the upper level history courses by introducing and teaching classes on ancient Rome and ancient Greece. Lemanski is originally from Detroit. He came to Western from his most recent appointment as a Senior Lecturer for the history department at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. From 2003-2012, Lemanski was also a teaching assistant and an instructor at Akron. “I am from a big city, and I grew kind of tired of living in a larger community,” Lemanski said. “I enjoy the smaller community; the countryside around St. Joseph is nice. I like the idea of having big city amenities and the small-town feeling that St. Joseph offers.” Lemanski is enjoying the transition from big city living to the smaller community of St. Joseph, and he is happy with the colleagues he has met since being at Western. Lemanski said the smaller campus gives the college and community a more intimate quality than the larger colleges offer. “I am very pleased with the instructors and students that I have met since coming to Western,” Lemanski said. “They are the nicest people, and have made me feel very welcome.” Junior Kristen Brantley is taking Lemanski’s Ancient and Medieval History course, which she is enjoying this semester. She said she has had trouble in history classes before, but so far this semester she has learned a lot from Lemanski’s teaching style. “He has a passion for the subject," Brantley said. "He’s not just passing out information, but actually making the material more relatable. College is tough, and he makes it easier by providing us with study guides, easily readable maps  and interesting readings." Lemanski is educated in a variety of subjects, such as history and modern languages. He earned his bachelor's degree at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1983. Lemanski was a dual major in Greek and Hebrew with a minor in Latin. In 1985, he received his first master's degree at the University of Michigan in near eastern studies. Lemanski continued to study at the University of Michigan and received his doctorate in 1989. The year 2005 brought Lemanski his second master's degree in history department. Lemanski passed his Ph.D. comprehensive exams in 2007 with distinctions in Medieval, Early Modern Europe, the Middle East and the United States pre-1877. In 2007, Lemanski also won a one-year Robert W. Little Graduate Research Fellowship, and in 2008, he was awarded a Graduate Student Government Research Grant from the University of Akron. The year 2009 finally brought Lemanski his Ph.D. in history from the University of Akron. In addition to his extensive knowledge of history, Lemanski is skilled in many language cultures, such as: German, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Anglo-Saxon, Hebrew, Sumerian, Akkadian, Ugaritic and French. “Lemanski’s use of other languages helps to illustrate certain points in ancient Greece and ancient Rome,” Brantley said. Lemanski also has the ability to decipher and translate ancient Greek and Roman clay tablets from the beginnings of written language. Throughout Lemanski’s years of schooling, he has worked in the education field as an assistant librarian of rare books and as reference librarian. He has also worked for the New York Times as an Indexer for the University Microfilms International and has taught courses in Absolution to Revolution, Ancient Middle Eastern Studies, Renaissance and Religious Studies, Early and Late Medieval European Studies, the Latin Language, Middle Eastern Studies and Humanities in the Western Tradition. “This is my last history course required for my degree, but if I had to take another one, I would definitely consider taking a different course taught by Dr. Lemanski,” Brantley said. Lemanski said he's enjoying teaching at Western more than anything else. He feels that the students are very diverse for a smaller community and is enjoying getting to know them through the classes he teaches. “The best part of Missouri Western is the students," Lemanski said. "I like the students; I enjoy talking to them, and getting to know them. They are very interesting and engaging. I like teaching them. I have great students here at Missouri Western, I couldn’t ask for more."