Dr. George Ketcham
At a critical juncture in the history of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University, Dr. George Ketcham stood up and was counted. It was 1968. Two members of the Department of History and six others across the campus had been summarily fired by the administration. Faculty all over Southeast were outraged and Ketcham became a leader in the attempt to secure changes in university policy. In gratitude, the department unanimously elected him Department Chair and Chairman of the Division of History and Social Sciences on the death of "Woody" Davis.
When Dr. Ketcham came to Southeast almost ten years before, he planned on a life filled with students and research, not administration. Ketcham received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Missouri with an emphasis in European and art history. During his teaching career he taught a wide range of courses dealing with the European experience. Ketcham widened his field of expertise by developing a specialty in the Middle East, even spending time in the region becoming familiar with the people and places he talked about in his classes. He was a long-time member of the Missouri Committee of American-Arab Affairs Council and was active in its programs and promoting the agenda of understanding the people, culture, and history of the region.
Dr. Ketcham had a passion for early firearms both as a collector and artisan. Many of the weapons in his collection were fashioned by him in his basement workshop. He enjoyed sharing his expertise with other classes and groups around the region. The photo below appeared in the Southeast Missourian in 1981.
Following five years in the department harness, Ketcham stepped down as Department Chair but continued as head of the Division of History and Social Sciences. When the University developed its current collegiate administrative structure, Ketcham became the first Dean of the College of Social Sciences, serving in that position until 1977 when he returned to full-time teaching. Among his accomplishments as Dean, Dr. Ketcham points to the creation of the Historic Preservation and Criminal Justice programs at Southeast.
Following his retirement, George and his wife, Yvonne, moved to the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri. Among advantages they counted in the move was the improved climate, proximity to Kansas City relatives, and the fact that they can see turkey, geese, birds of every description, and even deer from their patio. The Ketchams have even become avid bird and flower watchers. Dr. Ketcham has a small garden which he has perfected, producing a wide range of vegetables for his table and many others in the neighborhood. That interest in gardening carries over into their frequent trips. Besides special exhibitions at art galleries, the Ketchams also enjoy touring public gardens.