The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Anthony ‘Tony’ Novosel voted Best Professor by Pitt community

Tony+Novosel+smiles+for+a+photo+with+one+of+his+cats.+
Courtesy of Tony Novosel
Tony Novosel smiles for a photo with one of his cats.

In The Pitt News’ annual “Best Of” survey, students voted Anthony Novosel, a part-time instructor in the history department, best professor.

To senior history and German major Lily Wilson, it’s obvious why Novosel is the best professor.

“He’s so engaging, first of all,” Wilson said. “You’re never bored in his classes, even though he has those 2 1/2 hours, once a week classes.”

Novosel, known to his students as Tony, has taught at Pitt since 1989 when he started graduate school. He worked as a general advisor from 1994 to 2006 after he finished his doctorate and was hired as a faculty member and full time adviser for the history department. 

Currently, Novosel only teaches three classes — Professional Development for History Majors and Minors, The Great War: A Cultural History and Northern Ireland: The Troubles: 1969-1994.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Novosel describes his career path as “a long, convoluted story.” 

“I did a lot of different things when I was younger,” Novosel said. “I went to trade school after high school, ended up as an auto mechanic by trade, ended up working in factories.”

After an injury caused him to take off work for seven months, Novosel began thinking about college. He started at Pitt in January of 1985 at age 32.

“So that’s how I got here, and then I never left,” Novosel said.

Between jobs during the ‘70s, Novosel stumbled upon what would become his primary research interest. After what he described as a “weird series of circumstances,” Novosel went to Northern Ireland for the first time in 1974.

“When I teach the Northern Ireland classes, I jokingly say, ‘You’re not just studying the Northern Ireland conflict, you’re studying my adult life,’” Novosel said. “Because I’ve been going there since I was 20.”

Tony Novosel smiles for a photo with one of his cats. (Courtesy of Tony Novosel)

Novosel’s research focuses on Protestant loyalists who fought against a united Ireland. His work is published in his 2012 book “Northern Ireland’s Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism.”

In addition to research, Novosel has worked extensively with communities in Northern Ireland by speaking in loyalist working class communities, running soccer clinics for women and girls and working with a program bringing people from Northern Ireland to America. His voluntary work earned him an honorary Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire appointment.

Through his research and work in Northern Ireland, Novosel made a number of connections that allowed him to bring a number of guest speakers into class, a highlight for students like senior political science and history major Jared Cortazzo.

“We had someone from the UVF [Ulster Volunteer Force] come in and talk to us and someone who was in the IRA,” Cortazzo said. “You can’t get that anywhere else.” 

Novosel considers his guest speakers a core part of his Northern Ireland course.

“It becomes very real,” Novosel said. “They’re getting the academic part of it, but they’re also talking to people who are involved, or were affected by the conflict.”

A number of his guests, both in his Northern Ireland class and his professional development class, include his former students, some of whom he taught 30 years ago. He considers the “personal connections [he] makes as a result of teaching” a highlight of his career at Pitt.

Students like Wilson have also benefited personally from his connections with former students. Novosel introduced Wilson to the master’s program in public history at Queen’s University in Belfast, which she now hopes to attend.

“He’s connected me with a lot of former students that currently do it, that have graduated, that went to the school that I’m planning on going to in Northern Ireland,” Wilson said. “It’s all because of Tony.”

Beyond his guest speakers, both Wilson and Cortazzo agree that Novosel is a great teacher.

“You can just tell he has a passion for it,” Cortazzo said. “He’s very knowledgeable. He pushes you.”

They also emphasized the skills and knowledge that they took away from class with Novosel.

“He’s really good at breaking down why things happened and what they mean,” Wilson said. “Those expectations in his classes are high, but they’re very attainable. It makes you feel pretty accomplished when you do attain them.”

When anyone asks Wilson for a history class recommendation, she says, “Tony’s class.”

“You gotta just take his classes to see for yourself,” Cortazzo said.