Fall semester begins new chapter in life of history professor

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facultyprofile 2“I had thought about being a history professor since the eighth grade,” said Dr. James Matenaer, one of Franciscan’s newest faculty members.

Besides the many new students on campus for the fall 2013 semester, there are several new professors that have joined the University’s teaching administration.


One of these is Matenaer, who earned his doctorate in Medieval European History from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. While in graduate school he enjoyed teaching history in classical, Catholic high schools. After completing his education, he worked for a few higher education institutions before moving to Steubenville, Oh., with his family.

“Franciscan University was always on my radar as a great Catholic institution,” said Matenaer. While it wasn’t hard for him to teach history in a secular environment, there was a “natural draw” for him to instruct at Franciscan.

He said that even though he has only been at the University for four weeks, he loves it. “The students are wonderful and it is a great environment to teach in,” said Matenaer. “They are so involved, eager to learn and participate, and I have enjoyed my time here.”

Matenaer, his wife, Mary Beth, and their two young daughters, Monica and Brigid, moved to Steubenville in time for the beginning of the fall semester. He and his wife have lived their entire lives in Wisconsin and left many family roots back in their home state when they came to Ohio.

“It has been difficult being away from our families,” said Matenaer, but they are looking forward to what the future holds.

Matenaer was born and raised in a very faith-centered family with Catholicism always having an important role in his life. His parents instilled a life of faith in him that, “grew, developed and matured.” He said this was a very natural process of “continual conversion” that is still occurring.

Matanaer’s favorite historical figure, besides Jesus Christ, is St. Augustine. His favorite Christian literary work is St. Augustine’s Confessions because he admires the saint and what he did for the Church in his time.

Matenaer said that he hopes to stay and instruct at Franciscan for years to come, but he added that the overall decision is “up to the Holy Spirit.”

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