By Maggie Nadeau
Before teaching at Chapman, history professor William Cumiford was a student here. Now, fifty years later, he is one of the universities highest rated professors, with a 4.4 rating, according to RateMyProfessors.com.
“My first love is teaching. It’s always been my dedication to be a historian, and the most important aspect of that is teaching. Being a professor that students like is always a good thing,” Cumiford said.
He said he had heard that he was a top rated professor before, but he has never checked the site himself.
“One thing that students have rated me high on is my grading. I am one of the fastest graders on campus, and 95% of the time I will have their papers and tests returned next session. That was always my pet peeve when professors would hang on to my work for weeks, it doesn’t do the students much service,” Cumiford said.
To make sure his students get the best experience, Professor Cumiford works hard and comes to class very well prepared. He actively engages his class by drawing them in with classroom discussions. He uses lecture and feedback to teach. His technique is to do some of his own lecturing, and then calls on students for their own opinions and ideas. It’s important for him to gather feedback without droning on.
“My goal is to instill the love and appreciation of history. Young people often haven’t lived enough history to appreciate and understand it,” Cumiford said.
He models himself to stand for what knowledge he instills in his students. He believes that if you do something, you need to do it right. That is why he makes it a priority to grade his student’s work immediately and efficiently. They did the hard work and deserve the quick grading turn around, even if he has to bust his tail to get it done.
The historian has been spreading knowledge for 45 years. He received his degree in history, and has taught at Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Dominguez, and in Texas. Aside from teaching, He has also been a site surveyor, editor, and museum curator.
“I was inspired to become a teacher by one of my college professors at Chapman College. I took courses right inside Roosevelt Hall 50 years ago, and now my office is here. Its uncanny,” Cumiford said.
If you are now looking to enrich your knowledge of history with Professor Cumiford, next semester he will be teaching Western Civilization: Mesopotamia-Renaissance, Modern Latin American History, History and Film, History of Spain and Portugal, and Technology and the Media in the United States.