Dr. Edmund F. Kallina has taught history at UCF since 1970. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Rice University, and his master’s and Ph.D. at Northwestern University.
His chief research interests center on American politics of the 1950s and ‘60s, military and diplomatic history. He has written three books about politics and served as chair of the History Department from 2001 to 2007.
This history professor doesn’t just focus at the past; he looks to the future when scouting players for his next fantasy baseball team.
When did you realize you were interested in working in the history field?
The second semester of my freshman year at Rice University in spring 1962. I was doing badly in science and math but very well in my first history class. I had a great professor, Dr. Louis Galambos, who told me I could be successful as a graduate student. By the end of spring 1962, being a college history professor was my career goal.
Why is history fascinating to you?
From the time I began reading I was fascinated by the stories I found in history, especially political and military history. They captivated me—and they still do.
What history is often overlooked or ignored by most Americans?
The most neglected subject in U.S. history is American religious history and the influence of religion in American history. American education today is highly secular, scientific, materialistic and rationalistic. It is incapable of comprehending the importance of nonsecular, nonscientific, nonmaterialistic and nonrationalistic elements. As a result, it simply ignores the nature and significance of the religious experience in American history.
What accomplishment have you been most proud of while at UCF?
I think my most satisfying accomplishment at UCF has been to write three books. [Claude Kirk and the Politics of Confrontation; Courthouse over White House: Chicago and the Presidential Election of 1960, and Kennedy v. Nixon: The Presidential Election of 1960.]
What do you like about your job at UCF?
I have always enjoyed teaching and the class discussions with students, as well as research, writing and publication. We have been blessed with wonderful colleagues and staff in the History Department. The friendships and associations in the department are my fondest memories of UCF.
You have been teaching at UCF since 1970. What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen through the years?
I think the two most positive changes have been the openings of the Barnes & Noble bookstore and the Student Union because more than anything else they created centers where students, faculty, and staff could meet and converse and have the sense of a traditional college campus.
What three people from history would you like to have dinner with?
I am going to give you two lists—one on the American side and one in world history. In American history—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln—all brilliant minds and brilliant conversationalists.
On the world side, my choices are influenced by my Lutheran upbringing and beliefs—Jesus, St. John (on the island of Patmos when he was writing the book of Revelation), and Martin Luther.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I enjoy reading, watching baseball, and participating in the fantasy baseball league I am a member of and which is now almost 25 years old. It is probably the oldest, continuous fantasy baseball league in the Orlando area.
What lessons have you learned from fantasy baseball that could be applied to everyday life?
The big lesson is that fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like in life, you need endurance, patience, and commitment to be successful, and you need to be able to make decisions and accept that some of them will not work out. For those that do not turn out well, learn from them and don’t continually second-guess yourself.