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Spring 2007 e-Historian

Dear Department of History Alumni and Friends,

This is the second of our e-newsletters this academic year. There are many exciting developments since I last wrote to you in the fall, including new faculty honors, new faculty hires and great alumni news. I hope you will find this newsletter to be a valuable link to your department and that you will continue to support us by attending events we design for you and with your generous contributions.

Please send us your news – we want to hear from you. Remember to inform us if your physical or e-mail address has changed or will be changing. You can update it online with just one step on the Department of History’s Web page for alumni.

Ned Alpers
Professor and Chair
UCLA Department of History


The History Department has many notable and accomplished alumni who are participating in the life of the university:

- This year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ’69 will be the 2007 commencement speaker for the College of Letters & Science. Since his retirement from the NBA, Kareem has written six books. His most recent book, “On the Shoulders of Giants—My Personal Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance,” recounts how the historic events and larger-than-life people of the Harlem Renaissance shaped him. Currently, he is at work on a documentary based on his latest book, which explores the power of history told through basketball and music.

- This is the second year in a row that the featured commencement speaker for the College is a history major. Last year the speaker was Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa ’77. Mayor Villaraigosa will receive the university’s highest honor from Acting Chancellor Norm Abrams at the College Commencement Ceremony on June 15. Villaraigosa was elected mayor in 2005 after serving the California State Assembly, as a member and as Assembly speaker, and as a Los Angeles city councilman.

- Alan Buckelew ’73, M.B.A. ’75, will speak at the History Department Commencement on Saturday, June 16.  Alan was appointed president of Princess Cruises in February 2004, and has served as chief operating officer of Cunard Lines since that company’s operations were combined with Princess Cruises in October 2004. Both Princess Cruises and Cunard Lines are part of Carnival Corporation & PLC, the largest leisure travel company in the world.  

- The History Department has established the Peter Reill Chair in European History (1450 to modern), the result of a generous donation by Mary and Donald Eversoll ’68. Donald Eversoll is a former executive at Pulte Homes, the nation’s largest home builder. This chair honors professor Peter Hanns Reill, who began his career at UCLA in 1966 as an acting assistant professor. He is now a professor of European History and the director of UCLA’s Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies and of UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. His current research focuses upon the intersections between science and cultural and intellectual concerns in the 18th and the early 19th centuries. He is also working on a study of the widespread appeal of hermetic, alchemical and cabbalistic thought during this period. He has written and edited several books on the Enlightenment, including recently published “Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment” (2005) and “Discourses of Tolerance in the Enlightenment” (forthcoming).


In order to ensure the department’s place among the top 10 history departments in the United States, the department recently established the History Advisory Council. The council is involved in strengthening the department’s reputation by raising money and awareness. We will introduce the council in future issues,  we encourage you to consider joining this distinguished and committed group of supporters. We need help and participation from all of our alumni.

One way to participate in the financial life of the department is through the Chancellor’s Associates. The chancellor has announced important changes that allow Chancellor’s Associates to designate that their annual contributions be directed to a specific department or program. The History Advisory Council hopes that alumni and friends of UCLA history who are Chancellor’s Associates will in future designate their contributions to the Department of History. For information, visit http://www.uclafund.ucla.edu/leadership/index.html.

Also, those of our supporters who are not Chancellor’s Associates can now donate to the Department of History through the UCLA Fund and their gifts will be applied towards their status as Chancellor’s Associates. For information, visit http://www.history.ucla.edu/people/giving.


- In February, the Department of History and the UCLA Alumni Association hosted the first alumni lecture by professor Teo Ruiz on "The Terror of History: The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe." The lecture attracted 90 people and was a great success. Thanks to the UCLA Alumni Association, this lecture can be viewed online at http://www.uclalumni.net/NewsLinks/home.cfm.

- The national distinction of the Department of History continues to be recognized by the awards that our faculty members receive. This year two members of the faculty, professors J. J. Arch Getty and Teo Ruiz won Guggenheim Foundation fellowships for next year. Arch Getty will study "Folkways, Political Practices, and the Soviet State," and Teo Ruiz will use his fellowship to complete a book entitled “From Carnival to Corpus Christi: Festivals, Rituals, and Power in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain.” The Guggenheim is the most prestigious national scholarly fellowship in the academy; for two of our colleagues to win this award in the same year is a great honor.

- Next year, assistant professor Ghislaine Lydon, a specialist in the history of western Africa and the Sahara, will be a Fulbright Scholar at Sana’a University in Yemen.

- Two faculty members also won major book awards this year. “The Israeli-Palestine Conflict; One Hundred Years of War” (2005) by professor James Gelvin won a 2006 Outstanding Academic Title Award from Choice: The Journal of the American Library Association. Also “The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria” (2005) by professor Andrew Apter won the Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute (U.K.) as the best book on African anthropology for 2005.

- The National Center for History in the Schools recently received a grant of almost $100,000 from the Ahmanson Foundation to support the World History for Us All curriculum project of the NCHS. The NCHS director is emeritus professor Gary Nash.

- Associate professor Valerie Matsumoto won the Distinguished Teaching Award, Eby Award for the Art of Teaching. This is the second year in a row that a member of the Department of History has won this campus-wide award.


Kevin Terraciano was promoted to professor. In addition to being a leading scholar on Mixtec history in colonial Mexico, professor Terraciano is a past recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


The Department of History deeply regrets the passing this month of emeritus professor Eugen Weber. Professor Weber was one of the true giants of our profession, an individual who helped shape the department and the College into the leading institutions they are today. For myself, as chair of the department, I note that Eugen was chair when I was hired in 1966 and he was a model for all of us who have followed in his wake and had the honor to serve the department in this capacity. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and by those who continue to read his writings or view his brilliant television series on the history of western civilization.

We also regret to inform you of the deaths of emeritus professor Stanford Shaw and  graduate student, Srjdan Rajkovic.


This year the department made important junior appointments in three different fields:

- Ra’anan Boustan, a visiting assistant professor of history and near eastern languages and cultures, has accepted an appointment in Jewish history. He is a specialist on Jewish mysticism and Jewish-Christian relations in Late Antiquity. He has published “From Martyr to Mystic: Rabbinic Martyrology and the Making of Merkavah Mysticism” (2005) and numerous articles. He will be on leave next year as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He was previously on the faculty at the University of Minnesota.

- Peter Stacey is an expert on the history of Renaissance Italy, specializing on the impact of the classical works of Seneca on later Italian thought. He has published “Roman Monarchy and the Renaissance Prince” (2007) and will be on leave next year as a Harvard fellow at I Tatti Villa in Florence, Italy. He is currently on the faculty at Cambridge University.

- Andrea Goldman, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland - College Park, will assume an appointment in modern Chinese history as of July 1. Her research focuses on the history of opera in late 18th- and 19th- Century Beijing. As part of her training she performed for two years with a theater troupe in Taiwan.


UCLA undergraduate history major Clifford Galiher made history last month by winning the Jeopardy! College Championship.  He represented the University and the department well and earned a prize of $100,000.

Several of our outstanding graduate students have won major research grants for next year:

Fulbright IIEs: Bradley Benton C.Phil. ’07 (Spain); Veronica Gutierrez M.A.’06, C.Phil. ’07 (Spain); Mellissa Betts M.A.’06, C.Phil. ’07 (Namibia); Dana Polanichka M.A. ’04, C. Phil. ’07 (Austria); Regan Bardeen (Nigeria for intensive training in Yoruba).

Again, we want to hear from you!  Please send news as well as address changes through the Department of History alumni Web site.