Tuesday, February 1, 2011
by Dean Carole Haber
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents, and Friends of SLA,
With the new year upon us, I am delighted to announce the appointment of two senior faculty members in SLA to prestigious endowed chairs. These chairs reflect their donors’ support for the mission of the school and their recognition of the quality of our faculty.
Prof. Ronna Burger, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, has been appointed at the Catherine and Henry J. Gaisman Chair in Judeo-Christian Studies. This chair was endowed through of generous gift of Catherine and Henry J. Gaisman.
Prof. Burger’s intellectual path has taken her from an early interest in the Bible and its interpretation to Greek philosophy and most recently to the question of the relation between them. This path is reflected in her scholarly pursuits and her teaching at Tulane, where she has found an intellectual home for over three decades.
After receiving her PhD in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in 1975, a Mellon Fellowship in New York, followed by a Humboldt Fellowship in Tübingen allowed Burger to turn her dissertation into her first book, on Plato’s Phaedrus (Alabama 1980), and go on to her second book, on Plato’s Phaedo (Yale, 1984; St. Augustine’s Press, 1999). Over many years of study and teaching, Burger became increasingly struck by the deep Platonic roots of Aristotle’s thought, and a fellowship at the Siemens Foundation in Munich offered the opportunity to bring that understanding to fruition in Aristotle’s Dialogue with Socrates: on the Nicomachean Ethics (Chicago, 2008). Plato and Aristotle provided a foundation for Burger to explore the thought of Maimonides and his response to the confrontation between Greek philosophy and the Bible, which she has addressed on several occasions, including two papers presented at the American Philosophical Association. Burger’s philosophic background has enabled her at the same time to open up new lines of interpretation of the Bible, from a Platonic reading of the story of Adam and Eve to reflections on the biblical account of Moses as legislator and founder, which she has presented at numerous college campuses. Her interests converged in a recent lecture Burger gave in Munich on the problem of the holy in Plato’s Euthyphro, soon to be published in English with a German translation. Burger was the recipient of Tulane’s SLA Faculty Research Award in May 2010.
As the Gaisman Chair, Prof. Burger will oversee a lecture series on moral and religious values.
Prof. Lawrence N. Powell of the Department of History has been named the James H. Clark Endowed Chair, a position funded by Dr. James H. Clark.
Lawrence N. Powell arrived at Tulane from Yale in 1978 to teach Civil War and Reconstruction and Louisiana history, later branching into the Holocaust. Internationally known for his work, in 1999 the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities named Powell the Louisiana Humanist of the Year. A former Guggenheim Fellow, in 2008 he was elected as a Fellow in the Society of American Historians, an organization that recognizes outstanding literary distinction in the writing of history.
These prestigious awards reflect the extraordinary quality of Prof. Powell’s many publications. Among his prize-winning books are Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana (UNC Press, 2000); with Philip Gould, Louisiana’s Capitols (Galerie Press, 1995); New Masters: Northern Planters during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Yale University Press, 1980; Fordham University Press, 1999), and, most recently, George Washington Cable’s New Orleans (: LSU Press, 2008); New Orleans City Guide ( Garrett County Press, 2009), and Grace Before Dying (Umbrage Editions, 2011). In addition, he has served as the editor or co-editor of several books and encyclopedias. His articles have appeared in such prestigious journals as the Journal of American History, The Journal of Southern History, American Scholar, Studies in American Political Development, and The New Republic. He is currently completing a history of New Orleans, under contract with Harvard University Press.
Prof. Powell has also been an outstanding teacher and university citizen. During his time at Tulane, he has won three teaching awards for his work with both graduate and undergraduate students. From 1998 to 2005, he was the Director of Tulane’s Campus Affiliates Program; and from 2000 to 2005, he as the Executive Director of the Tulane/Xavier National Center for the Urban Community.
As the James H. Clark Endowed Chair, Prof. Powell will serve as the Director of the newly established New Orleans Gulf South Center.
I’m sure you join me in thanking the donors for their generosity and in congratulating these outstanding faculty members.