Faculty & Staff SpotlightPaul Hillmer

Dr. Paul Hillmer

Professor of History and Political Science
Faculty Senate Chairperson

Dr. Paul Hillmer was a student at Concordia from 1979 until the fall of 1982.  He returned as a member of the staff in 1988 and began teaching after earning his M.A. in history in 1991.  While his graduate work was primarily centered on U.S. History during the Gilded Age & Progressive Era as well as Modern Japan, his research areas as a scholar have been Southeast Asia, especially the Hmong hill tribes of Laos who became refugees and settled in America, and the history of the YMCA.  He has written published histories of the Cleveland, OH and Minneapolis, MN Ys, produced a History Channel-funded documentary, From Strangers to Neighbors, about Hmong settlement in the Twin Cities, and authored A People’s History of the Hmong, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press (2010). .

Hillmer enjoys the classroom, where his years in the theater are often put to good use.  He enjoys teaching the Introduction to History class more than anything else because he gets to be an “evangelist” for his discipline.  “Too many students come into college thinking that history is boring and irrelevant,” says Hillmer.  “If I can convince them that history is dynamic, useful, and in dire need of our careful attention and dissection, then I have a chance to pass some of my passion for history on to them.”


  • Ph.D., History, University of Minnesota (2001)
  • M.A., History, University of Minnesota (1991)
  • B.A., History, Concordia College (now University) St. Paul (1982)


U.S. History, Industrial Revolution, Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Immigration
History of the YMCA, focusing on urban reform, labor, and family development movements, Hmong History, History of Vietnam War, Oral History