Associate Professor of History, Graduate Studies Coordinator

January 16, 2018

For nearly four years, Taylor Fain provided historical background to policymakers as a U.S. State Department historian. Today, he loves to share stories and lessons from the past with an audience of students.

“History is drama and conflict and pageantry, and if you teach it well, you can hook your audience in a way that allows you lead them into the more serious and analytical aspects of the subject,” said Fain, an associate professor of history. “It’s wonderful to relate a juicy anecdote about a historical event or personality and see your students’ eyes widen and watch them sit forward in their seats. That’s when you know you’ve got them!”

Fain’s interest in history began as a child. He visited battlefields and historic sites with his family and found the past absorbing.

Fain double majored in international relations and history as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia and earned a master’s degree from Georgetown University before returning to UVA for his doctorate.

During his tenure at the U.S. State Department, Fain wrote classified studies of U.S.-Soviet summits, arms control negotiations and Cold War conflicts in the Third World, as well as portions of the Secretary of State’s briefing books on various subjects. He also worked with Foreign Service Officers to identify and collect documents on sensitive topics and served as an editor of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official documentary record of U.S. diplomacy.

“I had always thought I would pursue a career in arms control or intelligence analysis, but when I was offered a Presidential Management Fellowship at the State Department’s Office of the Historian, I knew I had found my calling as a historian of American foreign policy,” he said.

Fain joined UNCW in 2004 as an assistant professor and later added graduate coordinator to his responsibilities. He is involved in the expansion of the department’s innovative online M.A. program for professional history educators. The program has received national accolades, including a first-place national ranking.

“We intend to grow the program significantly in the coming months, opening it to other students interested in pursuing a first-rate advanced degree in history,” Fain explained.

Teaching has allowed Fain to interact with talented students as well as smart and committed colleagues, he said. “I am extremely impressed by UNCW as an institution that values both teaching excellence and productive scholarship from its faculty members. Its status as a ‘teaching research university’ makes it an intellectually rich environment in which to work and a vibrant learning community of students and scholars.”

-- Venita Jenkins