Barbara Young Welke

Professor, History and Law 

Barbara Welke, in short hair, wire-rims and a sweater, stands in front of a bookcase.

An historian with a commitment to innovation, Barbara Young Welke has made her department more competitive in recruiting graduate students and transformed the departmental culture by, among other things, bringing greater fairness to TA and RA assignments.

"She puts the intellectual and professional development of the students as the highest priority," notes a colleague.

Welke has advised and actively served on the committees of more than 40 Ph.D. students and twice served as director of graduate studies in history. In 2007 she became a professor of law as well as history.

As a founder and director of the U of M's Program in Law and History, she helped it earn a national reputation. Also on the national front, she was an important contributor to the creation of the American Society for Legal History's Student Research Colloquium and was a co-founder of the Legal History Consortium.

Welke has also led Wisconsin's Hurst Institute in Legal History, a legal history "boot camp." Most important to her, the roster of Hurst Fellows includes nine U of M Ph.D. students.

"She takes on big projects and is very brave about exploring new subjects with students, rather than sticking to a 'safe' course that she teaches again and again," says a former advisee. "She models a kind of intellectual risk-taking that is critical to first-rate scholarship."