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Dr. Gary Freeze

Professor of History and American Cultural Studies


His ongoing local heritage project in Catawba County—fifty miles west of the college—is considered to be path-breaking in the compilation and writing of county history. He has written three books in the last decade, the last being Carolina Arcadia: The Story of the Sparkling Catawba Springs. He is currently at work on two projects: an eighth-grade social studies text on North Carolina history and culture and a major exhibition on the origins of the Andy Griffith Show for the Mt. Airy Museum of Regional History. Dr. Freeze’s honors for work in his field include the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest achievements for service given in the state.

Dr. Freeze’s students share with him many of the activities of local history. He takes a hands-on approach in most of his upper division classes. He regularly takes field trips: to Gettysburg for the Civil War, to Williamsburg for colonial times, and to Charleston or Atlanta for the study of the South. He tends to tailor each major course to a different skill or task. For example, the seminar on diplomacy focuses on position paper writing each week. The Civil War class takes an innovative approach to term paper writing with a digital archive shared by all students. His capstone experience is Highway 29, a seminar that goes "on the road" to explore the tangible evidence of the Jeffersonian American past. Students take a weekly trip to a site of interest and combine that field analysis with their readings. This attention to his students has lead to Freeze being named Catawba's Teacher of the Year, most recently in 2006.

His students have done internships with local museums and historic sites like Old Salem and the Museum of the New South in Charlotte. He regularly has one or two majors pursuing independent studies in American topics like presidential biography, western exploration, or gender relations. Recent graduates of his classes have gone on to law school, library school, teach history in high school, and even ran for Congress. Two recent graduates are in history graduate studies programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Virginia Polytechnic University.