Faculty Recognition

Several of our faculty have been singled out for special recognition during the past year.

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese received the National Humanities Medal from the hands of President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony “for illuminating women's history and bravely exploring the culture of America's past and present. A defender of reason and servant of faith, she has uncovered hidden truths and spoken with courage in every chapter of her life.”

Other recipients this year included Robert Ballard, a deep-sea explorer who found the remains of the Titanic; Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Street; Joseph Epstein, essayist; Midge Decter, former editor of Commentary; Jean Fritz, children’s author; Edith Kurzweil, former editor of Partisan Review; and Frank Snowden, an African-American historian from Howard University. As our Chairman, Walter Adamson noted, this award honors people not just for extraordinary scholarly or artistic achievement but also because they have dedicated themselves to having their scholarship make a difference in American public life. No doubt the Committee that selected Betsey for the award had in mind such things as her position on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities (which she began in 2002 and will continue on until 2008), or the fact that she has given approximately 20 invited lectures to university audiences around the country since 2000, and 158 since 1990. She has also served as general editor of four volumes of curricular materials on American women’s history for the Organization of American Historians. She has made numerous television appearances regarding history and public affairs. She has served on a variety of public advisory boards – the Center for Human Life and Bioethics, the Center for Religion and Democracy, and the Society in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, to mention just a few. Betsey’s life at Emory reflects her steadfast dedication to serving our best undergraduates through the Honors Seminar as well as some of our best graduate students by directing their dissertations. As at the national level, so too here at Emory University: the reach of her service to scholarship is both deep and wide. That is why we, her colleagues, are so appreciative of her work, proud of her accomplishments, and grateful for the bit of reflective glory that she has bestowed upon our Department and our University.

Thomas Burns. President James Wagner awarded Thomas Burns the Thomas Jefferson Award for 2004 at Commencement. The Jefferson Award recognizes “significant service to the University through personal activities, influence, and leadership.” The citation reads in part: “Ground-breaking Historian and Eminent University Citizen, using the latest technology to unearth ancient history in depth and detail, you satisfy the historian’s most exacting standards, while appealing to a modern general reader. Your rigorous and renowned teaching leavens our community through both introductory courses and advanced seminars. Above all, for thirty years you have lighted every corner of our campus with the bracing clarity of your mind. . . . Your contributions to the intellectual discourse of faculty and administrators are legion and legendary. You stand firmly upon your principles. . . . Ethical, incisive, fairminded, and guided by the lessons of the past, you have occasion to lament, with Cicero, ‘O tempora! O mores!’; Today we warmly salute your courageous leadership in scholarship, teaching, and service.”

Previous winners from the Department of History are: Harvey Young (1969), George Cuttino (1971), Russell Major (1986), and Irwin Hyatt (2002).

Leslie Harris's book, In the shadow of slavery : African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), featured in a previous Newsletter, has been awarded the 2003 Wesley-Logan Prize, sponsored by the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book in African Diaspora history. Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition awarded her book an honorable mention in its annual Frederick Douglass Prize for the best nonfiction work on slavery, resistance and abolition.

Jeffrey Lesser has been named a recipient of a Winship Distinguished Research Professorship for 2004. The Winship Professorship “honors achievement and furthers scholarly research and research-based teaching.” The chair comes as he begins a sabbatical next year to work on images of race in Brazil during the military dictatorship, 1964-1984.

Cynthia Patterson has been named Bird Fellow for 2004-05 through which she will represent Emory at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.