Professor Spotlight: Dr. William Bolt – Historian tackles the future with the past


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Bolt, an avid Tennessee fan, poses in front of history books.

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

Assistant professor of history Dr. William Bolt is very passionate about his field of study embraces his position at Francis Marion University (FMU).

Bolt graduated from both the University of Buffalo and the University of Tennessee, never once considering anything besides becoming a historian.

“Even at an early age, I always had a love of history. My dad was a social studies teacher, so some of it might be genetic,” Bolt said. “ I was blessed to have both of my grandfathers around until I was in my twenties to tell me WWII stories.  Most stories ended with how each one of them single handedly won the war.”

While history was never up for debate, teaching was not Bolt’s initial plan.  He started off editing books such at James K. Polk Papers and planned a career as a historian in the editing world.  It was only upon being asked to substitute teach a class while another professor was sick that he discovered his passion for teaching.

After marrying, Bolt migrated down South, or as he put it, to the land of “the best dang barbeque” and “nice weather.”  He started his career at FMU in 2009 and teaches courses such as Jacksonian Democracy, Economic History and Colonial America.

“I feel lucky to be here at such a great school,” Bolt said.  “I have the freedom to teach what interests me.”

While getting his Ph.D., Bolt studied the Andrew Jackson era of American politics.  He went in with the mindset of studying the Civil War, but after visiting the library and seeing and entire room of books on Abraham Lincoln and only a few on Andrew Jackson, he took the more daunting route.

He wanted to focus his efforts and abilities on aspects of American history that are under-researched and seemingly more obscure.  He enjoys the oppositions, battles, political campaigns and economics of early America.

“I love to talk about the heroes of American history,” Bolt said.  “I want students to enjoy history and not hate every second of being in a required course.  If they stay awake and laugh at my jokes then I am doing something right.”

Bolt is widely known around campus for his immense love of football, both college and professional.  He can often be heard ranting about a bad Tennessee Volunteer game or dancing around over an amazing Buffalo Bills victory.  Hailing from the “great city of Buffalo,” he always finds a way to incorporate his home city into a lecture, regardless of the subject.

“The one thing I want students to learn, if nothing else, is that the Bills will have a miraculous turn around and be relevant again one day,” Bolt said jokingly.

Bolt is not only an avid football fan and an out-of-the-box professor, but he is also a father.  Bolt proudly proclaims that his greatest accomplishment in life is his daughter Delaney.

“I have a beautiful little girl that I am training well,” Bolt said.  “She can already point out all of the ‘bad guys’ in Star Wars.”

Bolt has used his many passions to propel his students forward through story telling.  He teaches each of his classes as though he were telling a story and walking someone through the major events of the time periods.  Bolt’s style, personality and humble heart have students signing up to take his courses, even though they’ve completed their required history quota.

“I have some of the best students and I try to never take my place at FMU for granted.  I love every second of my job,” Bolt said. “I look forward to the alarm clock going off so I can come here and start my day.”