by George Zamora
SOCORRO, N.M., October 21, 1999 -- New Mexico Tech's previous history professors have provided Scott Zeman with a model of what he wants to do in his new position as associate professor of history at the state-supported research university.
Tech history professors emeriti Paige Christiansen and Spencer Wilson immersed themselves in the history of the university, Socorro and surrounding areas, and New Mexico and the Southwest during their tenures. Zeman plans to do the same.
Much like his predecessors, Zeman joined the Socorro County Historical Society as soon as he arrived and already has developed a good feel for the local area's extensive history.
In addition, the Tech history professor also writes a regular "local history" column for El Defensor Chieftain, has helped with tours of the Hammel Museum and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and is fast developing a reputation in the community as a local historian.
"I have a lot of interest in oral history," Zeman relates. "In fact, the research I conducted on my master's thesis was basically an oral history of how Apache communities began developing outdoor recreation industries in the 1950s."
Zeman plans to continue to incorporate oral history techniques in the research he will be doing on Socorro's 20th Century history.
"I'm particularly interested in 20th Century history," he says, "and I don't see a clear delineation between 'public history' and academic history."
Zeman lists his fields of study as also including the histories of the United States since 1865, the American West, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and comparative nationalisms.
He currently is teaching Western Civilization, American History to 1865, and Era of Crisis (which examines the Civil War and the Reconstruction Period), and is the faculty advisor of the newly formed History Club at New Mexico Tech.
"I eventually will be teaching more history classes on New Mexico, the Southwest, and the American West, as well as Native American history," Zeman says.
The Phoenix native has lived in the Southwest most of his life, having earned his bachelor's and doctorate degrees at Arizona State University and his master's at the University of New Mexico.
Prior to coming to Tech, however, he did serve a stint in the Northwest as a visiting assistant professor of history at Idaho State University in Pocatello.
"New Mexico Tech students are very bright and inquisitive," Zeman says, "and that works out well with my teaching style, which is mostly discussion-driven. . . . So, my classes here at Tech have ended up being very much a collaborative effort."
When he isn't busy teaching or conducting research, Zeman says he enjoys pursuing two of his favorite avocations: bird watching and fly fishing.
"When you're talking about resources in our community, Bosque del Apache always comes up, since it's a premier National Wildlife Refuge which is recognized as a birder's paradise," Zeman points out.
"And, I'm also really looking forward to fly fishing in New Mexico," Zeman adds.