A Historian’s Historian from SPC, recognized

March 8, 2019

Public Information Officer


Enthusiasm for Texas and history, leadership among peers, and use of innovative teaching methods to generate community college student involvement propelled St. Philip’s College’s Professor Allen Lee Hamilton to the very top of the Texas State Historical Association’s award list

The oldest learned society in the state has awarded its highest honor to an esteemed 40-year-plus St. Philip's College faculty member who is observing his fifth anniversary as an emerging, innovative leader in the online teaching of history at the postsecondary level.

Organized in Austin on March 2, 1897, the Texas State Historical Association awarded St. Philip’s College Professor Allen Lee Hamilton with its prestigious Mary Jon and J.P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award in the college category for 2018 during the Fellows Luncheon and Awards Presentation with J.P. Bryan present to recognize Hamilton at the association’s March 1 annual meeting in Corpus Christi.

Hamilton is a senior St. Philip's College Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty member in a department that annually builds the knowledge of 3,500 social sciences students from its hub on the second floor of the college’s G. J. Sutton Learning Center. Hamilton was honored during the largest gathering of its kind for Texas history enthusiasts, joining the leaders in the field as a colleague and a peer for three days of 40 sessions, networking, events and professional development from across the spectrum of Texas history, including joint sessions with such partner organizations as the Texas Historical Commission.

The top financial award granted each year by the association, the Bryan Leadership in Education Award carries a $5,000 award and is open to university and college educators in history throughout the state. The honor is only granted in years that the association finds a worthy historian, a historian’s historian.

Jesus F. de la Teja is the association CEO who communicated with Hamilton in a Jan. 22 notification letter.

"Your enthusiasm for Texas and history, your leadership among your peers, and your use of innovative teaching methods to generate student involvement propelled you to the top of the list," de la Teja wrote to Hamilton.

"I feel this special honor is a reflection of the amazing level of teaching we see every day in the Alamo Colleges District, and especially here at St. Philip's College. I am proud to be a part of such a great group of educators," said Hamilton.

“St. Philip's College has an exemplary faculty and I'm just another member. I have a chance to talk to a lot of outside groups and to promote Texas and U.S. history as both a vocation and an avocation,” Hamilton said. 

Of the association experience, Hamilton shared, “It's the most prestigious historical organization in the United States and it's not a small operation. Their quarterly publication (Southwestern Historical Quarterly) is one of the best in the entire country. If you are going to be anything in the history profession, you need to publish at least once in the quarterly. I have six entries in their Almanac of Texas Facts. But my recent award, it's the premier honor,” said Hamilton.

Of the award, Hamilton said, “It's enormous. It's a big deal. I was told that no other faculty member in the Alamo Colleges District has received the award, but I can't verify. Any award that carries a $5,000 award is a big deal, but I'm just happy with the recognition. I told my wife we can take a trip to Scotland or get new windows for the house. Guess which one we will do?” Hamilton responded with a smile. 

The life of an Internet educator is important to Hamilton. 

“History is fun. I have a blast. I can’t believe they pay me to do this. Right now, I'm teaching seven classes, all Internet. I’ve been online about five years and was the first person in the history department to start teaching online about 10 years ago, and I’ve been teaching exclusively online for about five years. It’s the wave of the future. That was one of the reasons I won the award. I talk to the communities---the virtual and the physical communities... that’s the world we live in today. I've been a finalist for this award for the last three years. And when they called me, I thought you guys are just kidding me, everybody's a finalist," Hamilton recalled.

The award is also validating for the direction the college and its alumni and current students are headed, Hamilton said.

"We have an exemplary department and faculty all the way around. I could be a lot of different places and I’m very happy here at St. Philip's College. If I'm happy here, that says a lot about the school," said Hamilton.

“Texas history is such a magnificent mosaic of events, both great and small, both profound and comically inconsequential, that there is no end to the stories we can tell,” Hamilton explained when he discussed how his published work with the association's Handbook of Texas Online inspires the world to understand itself. “And after all, that’s what I do: I tell stories. A historian is not unlike the ancient bards telling stories around the campfires. Humans have always wanted to maintain their links to the past, to know where we came from and why. So in the context of my larger body of work, the award is just another piece of the mosaic, another way to reach out to the general public and get them excited about history and college education,” Hamilton said.

In the community, Hamilton was one of the judges for the 2018 Battle of Flowers Oratory Contest. Hamilton was also a local community leader in his capacity as the college's faculty member representing higher education on the 2018 City Tri-centennial Committee's Intra-University Tricentennial Committee. The college was an educational partner in that yearlong San Antonio Tricentennial Celebration calendar of events, activities and innovative initiatives that honored that historic milestone, highlighting the role that institutions of higher learning had served in the city’s 300 years of development. Teaching for 40 years, Hamilton has taught 25,000-plus students at SPC which was rightfully described as a pillar of education during the Tricentennial period. Hamilton can be reached at (210) 486-2480, ahamilton@alamo.edu. Find Hamilton’s name at the association web page where the names of 2018 season award recipients are posted, and find images from the event at the association web page. (Images courtesy Texas State Historical Association)