Friday June 1, 2012
by Dean Carole Haber
It is hard to believe that the academic year has come to a close. On May 19, we “waved goodbye” to another class of outstanding Tulanians. As we listened to the honors won and experiences gained, we shared the students’ joy in their success and the well-deserved pride of their families.
In the School of Liberal Arts, this graduation marked an important milestone not only for our students, but for two of our most accomplished endowed professors. With the end of the year, Martha Huggins of the Department of Sociology and Lawrence Powell of the History Department will embark on a new stage of their careers; they will retire from Tulane. Given their stature in the field, it seems rather foolish to try to summarize in a single paragraph the extent of their accomplishments. Nonetheless, I hope I can convey just a sense of what they have achieved while they have been at Tulane.
Martha Huggins, the Charles and Leo Favrot Professor in Human Relations, is a leader in the field of labor control, police, repression, and torture in Brazil. The author or editor of seven, award-winning books and numerous articles, book chapters, and lectures, she is a featured speaker at both national and international professional meetings. She has received numerous grants, including a $700,000 grant in 2004 from the Dutch Scientific Research Organization to study “Implementing Human Rights Standards for the Police in Three Developing Countries.” Despite her scholarly work, she has been an active member of the university community, participating in and chairing committees for the School of Liberal Arts, the Stone Center, and the Sociology Department. She has also been an outstanding teacher and graduate student mentor. Not surprisingly, she was named the “Best Teacher” by the Tulane Latin American Graduate Student Association.
Lawrence Powell, the James H. Clark Endowed Chair at Tulane University, is also the director of the New Orleans Center of the Gulf South. He has written and edited twelve books, including his most recent contribution, The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, 1699-1803, which has won great media acclaim and international praise. His articles have been published in leading historical, political, and popular journals. He has served on numerous boards including the Amistad Research Center, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Louisiana State Museum Board, the Louisiana History Association, the Southern Historical Association, and the Southern Institute. In addition to being a productive scholar, he has been active in the arena of civil rights. He has chaired and organized national civil rights conferences and has been an expert witness in several federal voting rights cases in Louisiana. In 1998 he received the "George Washington Lucas Community Service Award" from the New Orleans branch of the NAACP. In 1999 he was named “Louisiana Humanist of the Year” by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow in the Society of American Historians.
Given the accomplishments of these two eminent individuals, we are obviously sad to see them retire. Scholars at heart, they will, we know, continue to be influential in their fields through their ongoing writing and research. They leave behind them scores of students whose lives have been forever changed by their mentorship and teaching. We will miss them greatly!
In recognizing the impact of these individuals we also need to acknowledge the donors who made their continued residence at Tulane possible. While scholars such as Prof. Huggins and Prof. Powell would be welcomed at any elite university, we were able to recruit and retain such outstanding individuals by awarding them endowed chairs. Not only did these funds recognize their status and support their research, but it meant that generations of students and faculty would have the opportunity to work and study with them.
As we close our academic year and go on a short hiatus, we would also like to thank those who have contributed to restricted, endowed, and unrestricted funds in the School of Liberal Arts. Over the past year, we hope that you have seen the effect of this support through stories highlighted in the newsletter. From the research of our faculty in the “News of the Field” through the novel interdisciplinary major on the Music of the Gulf South, the New Orleans Gulf South Center, and the new Department of Jewish Studies, to the life-changing service learning experiences, shows, exhibitions and conferences, SLA has become the exciting school it is because of the generosity of our friends, alumni, and parents. To all those who have made a gift, or are thinking of supporting the School, you have my deepest gratitude. Please know that your contributions make a great and lasting impact on the lives of our faculty and students.
Until we return in the fall, I want to wish you all a wonderful summer. Before we know it, a new class of students will become part of the Tulane experience. We can hardly wait!