Michael Kurtz worked at the National Archives and Records Administration thirty-seven years before joining the faculty full time at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, Maryland’s iSchool. Earlier this year, Kurtz committed $500,000 to create the college’s first endowed professorship, which will be named in his honor. Read on for more about Kurtz’s admirable career and passion for archival education. SAA: What compelled you to enter the archives profession? MK: I was always interested in research, records, and history. My graduate advisor at Georgetown University, Dr. Thomas Helde, suggested that a career in archives might be a good fit. He recommended that I pursue a position at the National Archives, and I am very glad that I did so! SAA: What are your hopes for the endowed professorship at Maryland’s iSchool? MK: I hope that this endowed professorship will help ensure the long-term viability of the archival education specialization at the iSchool. With stability over time, the occupants of this position will lead the program at the iSchool, and significantly contribute to advancing the profession into the archival digital future through original research, publishing, and teaching. SAA: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a professor or mentor? MK: Dr. Mabel Deutrich, the first female senior executive at the National Archives, encouraged me to continue my doctoral studies and at the same time enter the archivist career training program. Her professional and personal support was invaluable to me in successfully accomplishing these two challenging endeavors. SAA: If you could go back in time and take any one archives, records management, or history class over again, what would it be and why? MK: Actually, two classes come to mind. In the mid-1980s, I took a course at the National Archives taught by Dr. Charles Dollar on what were then called machine readable records. Later I took a strategic planning workshop led by a retired Navy admiral. These courses began to open my eyes to the digital records future and to a key management and executive function I needed to master. SAA: If you could see any one item from an archives in person, what would it be and why? MK: While working at the National Archives, I had the privilege of seeing many significant documents. The one that I would like to view again is the Emancipation Proclamation. The document was a gigantic step toward fulfilling the ideals of the American Revolution.
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