Loans and Receivables staffer writes his lesson plans

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

15 August 2002 |

Student-loan collector David Wetzel is about to don a new campus hat.

The administrative analyst in Loans and Receivables who for decades has moonlighted as a scholar and historian now spends most of his free time on lectures for a spring-semester course in the history department.

Ive haunted the margins of academia for 20 years, but Ive never been able to tie my interest in history into my professional life, says Wetzel. This will be the first time Ill be able to do it. Its terrific. Its my dream come true.

Wetzel, who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, attracted attention with the publication of his fourth book, A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III, and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War, in September 2001. The flurry of publicity included a Berkeley campus reading, which was videotaped by CSPAN2 and broadcast three times over the summer on the cable channel. (It is expected to air again in September.)

His scholarship also caught the eye of the history department, which invited him to apply to teach a spring 2003 undergraduate course in his area of expertise.

They were impressed by what I had done in my spare time, and apparently thought that lecturing would not be a problem for me, Wetzel says.

The Berkeley staffer typically devotes nights, weekends, and the wee hours of weekday mornings to studying the machinations of European diplomatic history. These days, though, hes set aside everything, except some book reviews that Im committed to, to write his 31 lectures for the class.

The course spans European diplomatic history from the era of the French Revolution to the outbreak of World War I. Im up to the 1830s, says Wetzel. Once Ive dealt with that, Ill be able to concentrate on some of topics I cover in my books; those will be the easiest to write.


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