ENMU Assistant Professor of History Discusses Passion for Teaching, Looks to Expand Modern Europe Course Offerings

Dr. Roy Koepp
Dr. Roy Koepp

ENMU Assistant Professor of History Discusses Passion for Teaching, Looks to Expand Modern Europe Course Offerings

Dr. Roy Koepp, a new assistant professor of history at Eastern New Mexico University, is passionate about teaching.

"I enjoy getting to teach students about modern European and modern German history. As my students are rapidly coming to learn this semester, I can talk about this stuff all day. I always appreciate the opportunity to share my love of history with them," explained the assistant professor, who specializes in the areas of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, modern Germany, modern European history and comparative world history.

Dr. Koepp's upper-division classes focus on pre-modern Europe, 19th Century Europe and 20th Century Europe. He teaches "Western Civilization Since 1500" every semester and is looking forward to teaching a course in fascism.

He would like to develop additional courses in the field of modern Europe, including classes on "Nazi Germany and the Holocaust" and "Modern Germany Since 1815." "I'm hoping to be able to provide our majors, minors and anyone who loves history with interesting and informative classes in modern Europe," he said.

Dr. Koepp earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Northern Iowa and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He found interest in his career path and started asking more intellectual questions when he learned more about World War II history.

dr koepp in germany
Dr. Koepp at Neuschwanstein Castle in
southern Germany in 2008.

"As I read more books about the conflict I became very interested in the history of Nazi Germany and the questions that perpetually surround it, like 'How and why were the Nazis able to come to power in Germany?,' 'Why do the German people follow them so blindly?,' 'How were they able to twist widespread prejudice against Jews into a policy of genocide?' And from that point on, my path has kind of been set," he explained.

Before his teaching position at Eastern, he taught European and German history at the University of Nebraska in Kearny for more than seven years. Before that, he was a graduate instructor at Lincoln while he earned his doctorate and taught for ten years at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Wisconsin. "It was there that I first taught an online class, and kept teaching even after I left for Lincoln to get my Ph.D.," he said.

Dr. Koepp prepared a World War I-II journey to Europe that lasted 16 days in 2015. From London to Munich, his students got to see battlefield sites and memorials at Normandy, Verdun, the Somme, Belleau-Wood/the Marne, Bastogne and Remagen Bridge.

He organized a Holocaust Symposium at UNK in 2016, which brought three nationally-known scholars to Kearney to talk about the response of the German people and the Holocaust. He also received History Department awards for teaching (2013) and service (2016) at UNK.

He was drawn to ENMU when he found that the University was offering a tenure-track position in modern European history. "I had heard great things about ENMU from one of my friends, and former colleagues at UNK, Valerie McKito who went to school here as an undergrad," he said. "Her enthusiasm was reinforced during my on-campus interview in February. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, and I knew that I would enjoy it here."

Dr. Koepp said his favorite thing about ENMU was its size.

"It reminds very much of both UNI and UNK – schools that start out as teacher-training schools that morphed into comprehensive universities. I often think that smaller universities provide students, particularly those who are first-generation college students or who come from more rural areas, with the same quality of education but without the size (and sometimes impersonal nature) of a large research university. This can often be intimidating to students and, as a former first-generation college student myself, I remember appreciating this in my own college experience."

Dr. Koepp is also actively involved in many organizations, attaining membership in the German Studies Association, the American Historical Association and Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for historians. He is also going to be one of the faculty advisors for the ENMU History Guild and runs the Facebook page for the Department of History, Social Sciences and Religion.

He was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Hudson, Iowa, in a town close to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area.

"My dad still lives there. He worked for 30 years at John Deere's complex of factories in the area. My mom passed away ten years ago - she worked as an LPN at the Friendship Village retirement community in Waterloo. I have a sister, Heidi, who lives near Wausau, Wisconsin. She had worked as an RN for a number of years at Allen Hospital, but now works with computer software for a medical company there," he said. "Luckily, my wife is from the same area, just a different part of Black Hawk country."

The assistant professor of history and his wife, Debra, who works as an admission/registration specialist at ENMU, live in Portales. "We have a cat named Luke who we spoil way too much," he laughed.

When asked about his role models, Dr. Koepp listed Alan Steinweis, Joe Heiple, Donald Shepardson, Lynn Petersen, Roy Sandstrom, David McKibbin, Joe Bohr, Jay Lees, Susanna Schrafstetter, Harold Wohl, Lloyd Ambrosius, Chuck Quirk, Parks Coble, Tom Martin, Peter Mazlowski, Greg Bruess, Amy Burnett, Joanne Goldman, James Garza, Konrad Sadkowski, Tim Borstelmann, Carol Weisenberger, Vanessa Gorman, Charlotte Wells and Carol Morgan.

"These are all the teachers and professors I've taken courses from over the years. Individually and collectively, they managed to nurture my love of history and train me to become a teacher and a scholar. Without them I would not be here today," he explained.

He has traveled to many locations in Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK. He first went to Germany and Austria for a summer German-language program in Klagenfurt, Austria when he was an undergraduate at UNI. "It was an amazing and transformative experience, one that I encourage students to take," said Dr. Koepp, who hopes to go to Europe next summer for research and some travel. "I would love to take a group of ENMU students there in the next few years," he added.

Dr. Koepp enjoys to read, spend time with his wife, cat, friends and family, play video games, watch and cheer on his favorite sports teams (the Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Vikings, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs), and go to movies whenever he can.

He considers himself a life-long Star Wars fan, sharing that he was "six years old when Star Wars came out in 1977, and I've been to every movie ever since."

dr koepp j w l a building