Department of Good People Prosper: Elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 23, 2010, 1:17 pm

I just found out today that my Zenith colleague and mentor Richard Slotkin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This is so cool. Richie has been a special kind of mentor to me — the volunteer kind of mentor. Prior to his retirement, he had an office down the hall from me and would occasionally wander down to check in. “How’s it going?” he would say, which often led into a conversation about — well, how things were going: how a book or article was coming along, how I was managing to chair the American Studies program with no faculty, how to solve a particular problem in my home department, strategies for recovering from the Unfortunate Events. I was once involved in a –ahem — volatile encounter with one of Richie’s dear friends on campus (over a matter of some importance, actually) and told him I was about to pull myself together to apologize so that the conflict wouldn’t drag on and wreck future collaborations. “Don’t apologize,” he said nicely and firmly. “You were right.”

Everybody who is in Richie’s very wide circle of friends has a zillion stories like this so I won’t go on. For my own part, it was astonishing to me to work for almost two decades with a scholar who is productive, brilliant, sane and generous.

The list of AAAS elections can be found here. It includes historians Ervand Abrahamian (Baruch), Greg Grandin (NYU), Carla Hesse (Berkeley), and Heinrich von Staden (Institute for Advanced Study).

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