From a young age, Joel Rhodes has been in love with history.
“I was born in 1967, and my formative memories are of the sound and fury of the sixties and Vietnam. Probably more than anything else, those preadolescent years inspired me to become a historian,” he says.
Joel was born in Pittsburg, Kan., but spent his early adult life in Kansas City, Mo.
“That’s why my house flies the only Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs flags you’re likely to see in Cape Girardeau,” he says.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Kansas, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in history from University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Joel teaches courses in modern American history and the historic site courses within the historic preservation program. His areas of interest are the Cold War and the Vietnam era of American history. Curiosity, passion and a natural knack for storytelling are reasons Joel chose teaching as a career.
“It’s that inherent attraction to the past that keeps me teaching, researching and writing,” he says.
He is working on his third book that focuses on children in the sixties era.
“My new book, ‘In a Land Called Honalee: The Sixties in the Lives of American Children,’ is by far the most ambitious scholarly project of my career,” he says.
He is so passionate about teaching and learning that he can no longer turn off his “inner historian.”
“As the singer/songwriter Harry Chapin would have said, ‘it’s my life and my livelihood’. An example: I was very sick once in grad school at UMKC, as I drifted in and out of consciousness from a high fever, I apparently lay there for hours and enumerated every program of the New Deal and explained a little about each,” he recalls.
He was appointed by the governor to the State Historical Records Advisory Board as well as the board of the Missouri Humanities Council. He was also promoted to full professor this year, and this is one of his proudest moments at Southeast.
Joel’s classroom reputation is a strong one.
“A colleague once described my teaching style as ‘relentless.’ I like that because I guess that’s how I’ve always seen myself in the classroom. If RateMyProfessor is to be believed, I guess I’m a pretty good storyteller, too, which is also how I see myself,” he says.
Joel chose Southeast because of the town and the atmosphere of the University.
“I love the whole small college town atmosphere in the fall: football, homecoming parade and the cool weather. I grew up in a college town, and I really wanted to get back to that smaller Midwestern college atmosphere” he says.
Joel advises students to “live your life deliberately and not desperately.”
In his spare time, Joel enjoys hunting for deer and turkeys with retired Southeast professor Joe Werne as well as traveling. His favorite destination is the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, Utah. He also enjoys reading and spending time with his wife and three children.