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Summer 2008: UCLA e-Historian

Dear History Alumni and Friends,

As chairman of the largest history department in the nation at one of the finest universities in the world, I want to share with you, its worthy alumni and friends, the phenomenal achievements in our department this year.

In this summer 2008 issue of the e-Historian you will also find more news about fellow alumni, the UCLA Department of History faculty and students!

We are committed to deepening the engagement of history alumni and friends in the life of the department and at UCLA. We want to know about your journey once you crossed the grand stage and received your diploma, whether it was this past June or in previous graduation ceremonies.

By sending us your news you help us strengthen our connection to generations of history alumni. Send to historyalumni@history.ucla.edu.

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 at http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryUpdate?email=I7TQ.

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our events!

Ned Alpers
Professor and Chair
UCLA Department of History


For the first time in the history of the Pulitzer Prizes, two members of the same academic department - your UCLA Department of History - won Pulitzer Prizes in the same year.

Please join me in celebrating the Pulitzer Prizes awarded to Distinguished Professor Saul Friedlander and Daniel Walker Howe .  Friedlander, who holds the 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies, won his Pulitzer for the best non-fiction book with "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945."  Howe won his Pulitzer for "What Hath God Wrought:  The Transformation of America, 1815-1848."

For a full report on the Pulitzer Prize winners, go to  http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryJul08_01?email=I7TQ.

As reported in the fall 2007 e-Historian, Friedlander's book won the annual Peace Prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair, while Howe's volume previously won the third annual American History Book Prize of the New York Historical Society, which also named him American Historian Laureate. Most recently it has also been awarded the annual book prize of Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. Their achievements honor us all.


For the first time, two UCLA history alumni received major awards from the UCLA Alumni Association in the same year. Terry Donahue '67 received the Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year Award. He is well known to Bruins as UCLA's most successful head football coach, becoming the winningest football coach in both UCLA and Pac-10 history. Several years after stepping down as UCLA head coach, Donahue became general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.

Before and after his role with the 49ers, he has been a lead college football analyst for television, first with CBS and currently with FOX and NFL Network. Donahue remains deeply committed to UCLA and its efforts to raise community awareness of its great strengths as an institution of higher learning.

David Lash '77, J.D. '80 received the Community Service Award for his many contributions to pro bono law and community organizations. He is currently managing counsel for O'Melveny & Myers' national pro bono program and has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California.

For more on these UCLA Awards recipients, visit http://www.UCLAlumni.net/2008Awards?email=I7TQ


The UCLA History Council, in partnership with UCLA history alumnus and All-American, Bill Walton '74 reached out to more than 10,000 alumni to find out how the study of history at UCLA has positively impacted their lives.  I want to personally thank many of you who took the time to share personal stories and accounts of how the department, faculty and university shaped and in some ways altered the course of your lives.

Here are just a few of the reflections from your fellow alumni about the impact on their lives of the study of history here at UCLA:

- James Courtney '93 indicates that "the study of history taught me how to read and sift through multiple texts relating to a particular topic and distill facts from opinion, which has been invaluable in my law career."

- Charles McKenna '89 places a different emphasis on the same acquisition of critical thinking skills when he comments that studying history "gave me the foundation for my world views and political philosophy. While I certainly do not agree with all my professors, they instilled the critical thinking that I use every day in my professional life as well."

- Beverly Frank '74 observes, "The most important thing I learned in the history department was critical thinking skills."

- Matthew Berg '92 writes, "It broadened my awareness of this world. It has motivated me to travel professionally. It has helped me understand the cause and effect of events."

Thank you to everyone who provided a reflection on the impact that studying history at UCLA had on your life. Many of you indicated interest in becoming involved with the UCLA History Council, and we are working to contact each and every one of you.


Last June, approximately 400 undergraduate and 30 graduate history majors took part in the UCLA History Department's 2008 Commencement.

More than 3,000 parents, friends and well-wishers gathered at Dickson Court North to congratulate this year's graduates. Ben Nickoll '86 co-founder, CIO and managing partner of Ore Hill Partners, a $6.5 billion asset management company, delivered the commencement address. Nickoll shared his journey to career success. He is a member of the UCLA History Council.


To his many devoted students it will come as no surprise that the indefatigable Professor Teo Ruiz has won a campus-wide 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award, a competitive teaching award given by the UCLA Academic Senate. In addition, graduate student Naomi Taback has been recognized for her outstanding teaching with a campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award.

Ruiz and Taback carry on the tradition of teaching excellence that has marked the UCLA Department of History for many years and we congratulate them on their recognition.


In spring quarter the UCLA History Council and Phi Alpha Theta offered the second "What to Do with a History Degree" panel featuring distinguished UCLA history alumni who have achieved great success in their professional careers (see the "Daily Bruin" report at http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryJul08_02?email=I7TQ. Council vice chair Clare de Briere '90 moderated the panel, which included Milan Ratkovich '92, Joan Seidel '54, John Sussman and Ken Wilton '83.

As you know, the UCLA Department of History has partnered with a group of distinguished alumni and friends willing to bring their expertise, perspectives, passion and financial support to form the UCLA History Council. We thank the Council members and alumni for their participation in these panels throughout the year. The goal of the department and the Council through these panels is to connect alumni with students to talk about the options available to History majors, allow alumni to share in their wisdom and expertise as our students make plans for their careers after graduation from UCLA.


The UCLA History Department is pleased to announce its elite travel series for those seeking a unique experience. Delving deep into the history and lore of each destination and providing travelers with five-star accommodations and an intimate travel experience with one of the UCLA History Department's distinguished faculty, these trips offer discriminating travelers an adventure like no other. Designed by the department's distinguished faculty, in partnership with UCLA Alumni Travel and the UCLA History Council, the inaugural trip, A Trip Along the Route of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, traces the annual pilgrimage of thousands of Catholics to the alleged tomb of the Apostle St. James. The trip will launch in summer 2009. To find more information on this trip and others, visit http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryJul08_03?email=I7TQ.


In addition to our two Pulitzer Prize winners, UCLA history faculty members have garnered a number of other important awards and fellowships this year.

In 2009, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair of Indian History, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences along with along with six other UCLA faculty.  He joins last year's inductees, Professor and Presidential Chair Debora Silverman and Theodore Porter, and seven other members of the department who were elected for their distinguished scholarly achievements in previous years.

Associate Professor Nile Green, a specialist in the history of Islamic South Asia who joined the department in January from the University of Manchester, won the Sir George Staunton Prize of the Royal Asiatic Society for his article "Jack Sepoy and the Dervishes: Islam and the Indian Soldier in Princely India."

Professor Dora Weiner received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for the History of Medicine and Professor Emeritus Thomas Hines was recognized as Educator of the Year by the American Architects Society. Professor Emeritus Merrick Posnansky had a special panel in his honor at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Saul Friedlander will give the annual Marc Bloch lecture at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris in June 2008.

Professor Claudia Rapp has been elected to a visiting fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford for 2008-09.

Distinguished Professor and Henry Bruman Chair in German History David Warren Sabean has received a Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin and a fellowship from the National Center for the Humanities for 2008-09.

Distinguished Professor Patrick Geary has been awarded a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support completion of the digital St. Gall Monastery project. Find out more online:  http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryJul08_04?email=I7TQ.

Associate Professor Janice Reiff is part of a team of UCLA and USC scholars who have received a major grant from the MacArthur Foundation for a HyperCities project. Click on the winners link online at http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryJul08_05?email=I7TQ.


Five UCLA history graduate students have won Fulbright Dissertation Research Fellowships for 2008-09. They are Molly Ball (Brazil), Leanne Good M.A. '06 (Austria), Aaron Moreno M.A. '07 (Spain), Diana Raesner M.A. '06 (The Netherlands) and Dahlia Setiwayan (Indonesia).

Dana Polanichka M.A. '04 received an Andrew W. Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2008-09.


Professor Miriam Silverberg passed away on March 29, 2008.

Professor Melissa Meyer passed away on April 9, 2008.

Memorial statements about both Silverberg and Meyer are available at



Gifts to UCLA make a lasting contribution - to students, communities and the world. By investing in the promise of human potential, UCLA's alumni, faculty and friends demonstrate confidence in the power of knowledge to improve people's daily lives.

The impact of such philanthropy is measured in problems solved, innovations sparked, diseases cured and lives enriched.  Gifts to UCLA of every size enable transformations in the department. The University of California faces new state-budget-driven challenges next year, but support from alumni and friends like you makes a difference in the life of the UCLA History Department. I want to personally thank our distinguished faculty members for their leadership inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to providing scholarly research and teaching, the faculty has provided gifts to UCLA History worth more than $14 million.

I encourage you also to consider a gift to the UCLA History Department. Alumni and friends who are, or wish to become, Chancellor's Associates may now direct their annual gifts to the UCLA Department of History and retain all the benefits that have traditionally been given to Chancellor's Associates. For information, visit http://www.UCLAlumni.net/HistoryGiving?email=I7TQ.

Alumni interested in making a gift to the UCLA History Department by endowing a scholarship, supporting a faculty member, making a planned gift or other gift, should contact Kim Morris, Associate Director in the development office at 310-825-1151 or kbmorris@support.ucla.edu.

Thank you for supporting the work and many achievements of the UCLA History Department!
Previous Newsletters

Fall 2007

Spring 2007

Fall 2006