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All in the family for teachers

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Paul Beezley (left) and his father, William Beezley, have made names for themselves as history teachers at the UA. The elder Beezley teaches Latin American and Mexican history, and his son teaches Southern American history.
By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, May 3, 2004
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Every day, William Beezley and Paul Beezley share a ride on their way to teach history at the UA.

What's more, the two also share a history outside the classroom as father and son.

William, a history professor and Paul's father, said he came to the university in 1998 because the UA has a strong program in Latin American studies.

One year later, Paul, a history lecturer who was in search of a tenure-track job, unexpectedly found a position at the UA.

Paul, who had never even taken a class from his father, said although he was excited about his new job, he thought having his father at work might be "strange."

Paul's first day at the UA was unusual because his father introduced him to everyone. Paul said he called William "Dad" on the job because it "felt natural."

"Dad said, 'We're going to have to work on that,' but we never did," Paul said.

Donna Watson, administrative assistant for the history department, said it's "sweet" that Paul calls his father Dad, but the pair behaves professionally at work.

Both father and son said working together at the UA has become routine, and William said he enjoys the "intellectual collaborations" he has with his son.

"I don't give him advice," William said. "We talk a lot, but I'm not going to tell a Five-Star Faculty nominee how to do his job better."

Paul and William are colleagues, evident by the exchange of ideas for classroom lectures. They are avid historians, sharing a common passion for the subject. They are also good friends, supporting each other in individual endeavors.

We talk a lot, but I'm not going to tell a Fiv

-Star Faculty nominee how to do his job better. - William Beezley, UA history professor


William and Paul agree they share a strong relationship that most people would be envy.

"We're pretty serious guys. We never laugh," Paul said.

Although both men teach history, William's area is Latin American and Mexican history, while Paul specializes in the American South. Each man also uses distinct classroom approaches and teaching methods.

"I have an advantage teaching Mexican history because (students) don't know about it," William said. "It's going to be new. ... It becomes a story, a narrative of surprising developments."

Paul, a faculty adviser for history honorary Phi Alpha Theta, said his enthusiasm for history is apparent in his lectures. Students find him approachable because he is younger and "a goofball," he said.

"I'm not so old or distant; they feel like I'm somebody they can talk to," Paul said.

MacKenzie Hyde, a history senior and president of PAT, had both teachers her sophomore year and said they are dedicated to their students' success.

"They are both fantastic teachers, and I enjoyed taking their classes," Hyde said. "They solidified my decision to be a history major."

In 2002, William was named Most Distinguished Teacher in Graduate Courses by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

"Everyone knows Dad," Paul said.

Even though Paul will be leaving the UA at the end of this year to accept a lecturer position at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., he has also made a name for himself as a lecturer at the UA.

He was named a finalist for the Five Star Faculty Award this year.

Despite having the same career as his father, Paul said he wasn't pushed by his father to embrace the subject. Instead, he believes the atmosphere he grew up in influenced his passion for history.

"We grew up going to historical sites," Paul said. "Dad just kept taking us to forts, Williamsburg, everything."

While William instilled his son with a love of history, Paul was hesitant to become a teacher.

"I swore I wouldn't teach," Paul said. "I don't want to be my father."

But Paul said every junior faculty member needs an adviser, and has learned to accept guidance from his father.

William said although he will miss having his son at the UA next year, he looks forward to Paul's future.

"Paul's an established colleague, good friend and professional historian," William said. "I would not be surprised (if we) have a job at the same place again."

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