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UCLA e-Historian

Dear History Alumni and Friends,

The UCLA History Department continues to be a leader in the global study of history, offering the very best undergraduate and graduate students a world class education.  We are extremely fortunate to have the intellectual and financial support of stellar faculty, alumni, and students as we face the coming year on the heels of an extremely complex crisis for the state and University.

As you read about the accomplishments of our faculty, students, staff and alumni I hope you are reminded of your time here. Our Department is known around the globe for our hard-earned excellence and unparalleled scholarship. We continue to rank among the top ten History Departments in the country, a distinction we must strive to preserve in the short term and surpass in the long term.

In moving the department forward in the midst of the current challenges I am confident that we will continue to excel in the long term. In spite of the extreme pressure exerted by the budget negotiations, our community achieved tremendous accomplishments which are outlined in this newsletter.

I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all members of our community who supported this Department this year. I also want to thank those members who graciously donated their time by coming back to campus and sharing with students the secrets and wisdom of their success.  Your support continues to make a difference.

As you read about the accomplishments and activities of the students, faculty and alumni leaders, I trust that you will be reminded of the importance of your time in the History Department and the value of your experience and education here.


Ned Alpers
Professor & Chair UCLA History Department

The UCLA History Community

Graduates In June 2009, over 600 students received a B.A. in History from UCLA. Students and their families were fortunate to have the Commencement address from one of UCLA’s distinguished History alumnus, Alan B. Buckelew (BA, History ’73, MBA ’75), President and CEO of Princess Cruises.  Alan reminded students, parents and faculty that a degree in History from UCLA sets students on the path to success by training them to focus on the “long view” of the world, which helps one understand the past and create a better future.
Alan B. Buckelew
Alan also spoke about the value of a liberal arts degree which teaches students how to learn and how to think in an ordered fashion and therefore to arrive at accurate conclusions. In short, as a graduate of history from UCLA, the students are excellently prepared for the changing world we all face.

We are grateful to Alan for delivering the speech and for giving back to the Department and UCLA as a founding member of the UCLA History Council.

For more on the 2009 History Commencement, visit


Scott W. Hugo The Department is pleased to announce that History and Political Science double major Scott W. Hugo was one of two UCLA undergraduates to win a coveted Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University:

Scott W. Hugo
B.A. Political Science and History, UCLA 2009

Proposed Oxford Course: International Relations
Career Aspirations: Law, public policy, politics

Scott Hugo was a Regents Scholar at UCLA and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. In addition, he volunteered in the Bruins for Obama presidential campaign and led a UCLA project to mediate middle school racial violence.

U.S.-China relations has been a major focus of his undergraduate research, and he spent a term at Oxford studying Politics in the Middle East. In addition to being a sophomore captain of the UCLA rugby team, Scott played for the Oxford Greyhounds in 2007.

In 2008 Scott interned at the bipartisan Center for the Study of the Presidency in Washington D.C. and drafted a “White Paper” on nuclear proliferation and weapons of mass destruction. He also conducted research on Bush administration rhetoric and its impact on foreign opinion of the U.S.

“In an era that has been fundamentally shaped by the force of globalization, the challenges the United States faces are beyond the scope of a single nation – no matter how powerful – to resolve. Any leader who desires to contribute not only to American peace and prosperity but also to the betterment of the world must have a thorough understanding of the global political arena. It is with that in mind that I plan to study International Relations at Oxford.”


History Open HouseA special thanks to those alumni who attended the first UCLA History Department Open House as part of the 2009 UCLA Day activities. http://www.history.ucla.edu/ucla-day-department-of-history-open-house

More than sixty alumni and their families attended the event, which was held in the department’s conference room.  We look forward to connecting with alumni and their families and encourage you to come back and participate in the life of the department in the coming year.

We hope that you will “Save-the-Date” for the next UCLA Alumni Day on May 15, 2010.History Open House Attendees

History Open House


Career Panel Series StudentsIn partnership with the History Council, chaired by Clare de Briere (BA 1990; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Ratkovich Company) the Department offered four “Career Panels for History Majors” last year.

Career Panel Series Students

Each panel featured a diverse group of History alumni who shared their experiences as History majors and the ways in which their UCLA undergraduate experience has helped to enrich their different professional careers. These panels provide a very rewarding experience for both the students and the alumni who participate in them to share insights and perspectives which help our students gain a competitive advantage in their post-UCLA career plans.  As we continue to explore ways to engage alumni in the life of our Department and UCLA, I want to also extend a special note of thanks to many alumni who have shared insight with us about how the study of History has impacted their lives. As we look to the future, we hope that these memories and experiences will provide the impetus for you to consider reconnecting with us and supporting our students and faculty.

A special thanks is extended to the following History Alumni for giving back the gift of insight:

Alan Buckelew
CEO & President, Princess Cruises

Deborah Blum             
Writer/Director, the History Channel

Cheryl A Calhoun         
Director, Tax & Business Management, CBIZ Southern CA, Inc.

Stephen Chan            
History Professor, Harvard Westlake

Clare De Briere            
Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer,
The Ratkovich Co.

Diana Derycz-Kessler          
CEO Los Angeles Film School
& Los Angeles Recording School

The Honorable James Gray
Judge, Orange County Superior Court

Michael Hernandez        
Story Analyst, Universal Studios

John Langdon            
Emeritus Head of History, Marlborough School

Milan Ratkovich
Development Manager, The Ratkovich Company

Jasmine Rezai        
VP of Sales and Marketing, MX Live Entertainment

Kristin Rolla           
Director of Business & Content,
AOL-TV and Moviefone

David Ryan       
President, Ryan Capital Management

Dean Rydquist
Senior VP & Chief Compliance Officer, American Fund Distributors

Ed Sauve
Senior Advisor
Global Financial Service
Silicon Valley Bank

Joan Seidel
President, Morton Seidel and Company

Major Adam Siegler
Siegler Law Group

David Simon           
President, Los Angeles Sports Council

Sandra Skeeter
Sound City Recording Studios

Margaret Trenchard Smith
Adjunct Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University

John Sussman
Chairman, California Science Center Board of Visitors
Retired, Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation

Michael R. Tyler
Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary
Sanmina-SCI Corporation

Kate Visosky               
Associate, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Kenneth Wilton
Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Daniel Ziv
President, Z Valet and Shuttle Service

Kelly Zuckerman       
Group Marketing Manager,
Verizon Communications


Ron MellorThe third annual History Alumni Lecture was delivered last year by Professor Ronald Mellor who spoke about depictions of “Ancient Rome in film and on television” to an enthusiastic audience of more than 100 people at the UCLA Faculty Center.

Ron MellorRon Mellor is a native of Brooklyn who received his BA in Classics and Philosophy from Fordham University, and his PhD in Classics from Princeton. He first taught Classics at Stanford, but has been teaching Greek and Roman history at UCLA since 1976. His most recent work is Augustus and the Creation of Rome, and he is currently working on a translation of the Annals of Tacitus.

Jan ReiffThis year the Department Alumni Lecture will be held on December 10th and will feature Professor Jan Reiff, who will lecture on

“Uncovering LA: Exploring its People and Spaces through History”

Jan received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington, and has taught at UCLA since 1992. Most recently she has collaborated on the Encyclopedia of Chicago, which recently launched an innovative online version, and her current research project is tentatively titled “Industrial Towns, Suburban Dreams, Urban Realities: Pullman's Communities, 1880-1981.”

We encourage everyone of the Southern California area to join us at the Lecture. If you would like to attend please RSVP to Nancy Dennis at dennis@ucla.edu by Friday, December 4th. For those not able to attend the lecture will also be available on-line after the talk.


In these critical times, I am especially grateful for all of the gifts our Department received this year from all Alumni and Friends. Investing in the life of the History Department by making a gift provides the opportunity to impact the growth and continued excellence of the Department and its exceptional faculty and student body.

A Special Thanks to:


Members of the UCLA History Council have provided invaluable support for the department during the past year! In addition to providing financial gifts to the Department, the History Council were active in the life of the Department in very meaningful ways – from providing the Commencement address and expanding the student/alumni connection through expansion of the “Career Panels for History Majors” and serving as ambassadors on behalf of the Department throughout Los Angeles and across the globe.

>A special note of thanks to Council member Ben Nickoll, whose gift provided support for four graduate Teaching Fellows, one of the Department’s top priorities. Ben’s gift allowed the Department to provide supported for each Teaching Fellow for the year.  Each fellow taught four sections of twenty students each of History 97, a required pre-major seminar on “The Practice of History,” meaning Ben’s gift had a direct impact on over three hundred undergraduates.


The Friends of History offers a unique opportunity for alumni and friends to participate in intellectual discussions in an informal atmosphere. Four salons were organized last year by the Friends of History featuring talks by History Professors Daniel Howe, Nile Green, Robert Hill, and Lynn Hunt.

This year the Friends of History will host the following salons:

November 11th - "When and How Republics Decline:  The Dutch Case" by Professor Margaret Jacob

February 10th  - “The Sicilian Mafia: From Myth to History” by Professor Geoffrey Symcox

April 14th -  “The Political Theory of Machiavelli: The Prince as an Ironical Piece of Writing” by Professor Peter Stacey

For information regarding membership in the Friends of History, please contact Kim Morris in the UCLA College Development Office at 310-825-1151.


In honor and memory of Scott Olken, Sherwin and Elaine Olken established the “Scott Olken Endowed Graduate Travel Research Fund” in the UCLA History Department. The Fund will support graduate student travel and research, preferably in Roman History. The Olkens established the endowment in memory of their son Scott to acknowledge his pride as a member of the UCLA family and the History Department in particular.

Scott was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 19, 1965. He attended UCLA from 1983 to 1987 and received his baccalaureate degree at that time, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Scott OlkenWhile attending UCLA he was a member of the Division of Honors and received an “Outstanding Contribution Book Award” in May, 1987.
He was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in 1987.

He received his Doctor of Law degree from Northwestern University in 1990 and passed the California Bar exam the same year.

Scott practiced law in Los Angeles and Oxnard until he opened his own practice in 2007.  Throughout his lifetime Scott had a passion for Ancient Roman History and was a voracious reader.

He passed away in Los Angeles on December 14, 2008.

We offer our sincerest thanks to the Olken family for honoring Scott’s memory with the establishment of an endowment in his memory at UCLA.


As part of the Department’s communication with alumni, many people have taken the time to share their thoughts and reflections on their time at UCLA.

As you read about the accomplishments and reflections of alumni on their time at UCLA, I encourage you to look to the future and help us provide the same level of scholarship and experience that is the hallmark of UCLA.

Barbara Benjamin (’63)“Sounds corny but my life at UCLA in both History and Poli Sci (double major) gave me a professional & personal framework for regarding world, nat’l & local events.”  Matthew Berg (BA’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.” Ronald Chernin (’71) tells us “The insights gained through historical perspectives have played an integral part in my business ventures,” while Michael Corbett (’95) remembers that “History allowed me to view the current world through the past. Also studying many different cultures prepared me for my career today.” Beverly Frank (’74) observes, “The most important thing I learned in the history department was critical thinking skills,” something that also impressed James Courtney (’93) two decades later, who 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.” Similarly, James Brett (’75) recalls that “UCLA gave me the opportunity to hone my writing and thinking skills” and Paul Humphries (’83) observes that “Studying History gave me a firm foundation in research, rigorous assessment of information, and logical argumentation as well as opening up a world of experience and understanding.” Graduating twenty years later, Erica Lewis (’04) declares, “The study of history has taught me to think critically about events that happened in the past and to realize that they did not occur in a vacuum.” Robert Weiner (’73) reflects, “As the owner of a small business the study of history proved invaluable in demonstrating the evolution of society in terms of ideas, technologies. As a father of four, I was able to pass down the necessity of knowing our roots.” Finally, Mark Nakagawa (‘78 ) declares “It has enriched my personal knowledge of the people, culture and social spheres in the broader world around me, and it has given me a firm base from which I can lead my congregation here in Los Angeles,” a sentiment reiterated by Danette Martin (’93), who writes, “My studies at UCLA have given me a keen understanding of the history of America’s diverse people groups. They have equipped me to work within a diverse field that serves various ethnic groups.”

Robert Tsai (BA ‘93), who won the Carey McWilliams Prize for his honors thesis, writes: “My experience as a history major and in writing that thesis allowed me to dream of becoming an academic one day. I thought that faculty and/or alumni of the department might be interested in how my time at UCLA prepared and inspired me to write the following book”: Eloquence & Reason: Creating a First Amendment Culture (Yale University Press, 2008). Robert is Associate Professor of Law, American University, Washington School of Law. Valerie French (PhD ‘71), Associate Professor Emerita at American University cites the inspiration of her graduate mentor, Emeritus Professor Mort Chambers, who “remains a life model. . . . The quality, range, and rigor of my graduate education at UCLA provided the foundation for the rewarding experience of being a continuous learner and leader in my field.”


Congratulations to our stellar faculty and alumni who have garnered tremendous awards and recognition for their scholarly research and work at UCLA.

Jeffrey Bortz (PhD ‘84), Professor of History at Appalachian State University, who studied with Professor Emeritus Robert Burr, received a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship for his project “Gangsters, Workers, and Citizens in Mexico’s Labor Regime, 1923-1959.” See http://www.history.appstate.edu/Faculty/Individual/Bortz.html

Mark Tauger (PhD ‘91), who was a student of the late Professor Hans Rogger, is Associate Professor of History at West Virginia University and has published on famines in the early Soviet Union. See http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/.

Scott Kurashige (PhD 2000), Associate Professor of History, American Culture, and Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies at the University of Michigan, won the biennial Albert J. Beveridge Award for The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Princeton University Press, 2008) for the best book in English on the Americas since 1492. See http://www.lsa.umich.edu/history/facstaff/facultydetail.asp?ID=84

Caroline Ford (Modern France) was awarded the 2009 William Koren, Jr. Prize for the best article in French history by a North American scholar by the Society for French Historical Studies for her article, “Reforestation, Landscape Conservation, and the Anxieties of Empire in French Colonial Algeria,” American Historical Review (2008).

Patrick Geary received the President’s Award of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary for his contributions to medieval studies; he will also deliver the Menahem Stern Lectures in May 2010 at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Professor Emeritus Daniel W. Howe was awarded the University of California Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award for 2008-2009: http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/deans/library/panunzionews.pdf.

Sanford Jacoby, Howard Noble Professor of Management, Public Policy, and History, has won a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2009-2010.

Professor Emeritus Fred Notehelfer was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun by the Government of Japan: http://www.la.us.emb-japan.go.jp/e_web/e_news_24.htm.

Associate Professor Janice Reiff won the campus Distinguished Teaching Award.

Peter Hanns Reill was elected to be a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences at Göttingen, the second oldest Academy of Sciences in Germany; he has also been elected President of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Professor of History and Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian History was elected to the American Association of Arts and Sciences.

Mary Terrall has won a major grant from the Huntington Library in Pasadena and will spend academic year 2009-2010 in residence there.


Professor Kathryn Bernhardt (Modern China) retired in Winter Quarter 2009.


Professor Emeritus, Fr. Robert I. Burns, S.J. passed away on November 22, 2008: http://www.historians.org/Perspectives/issues/2009/0905/0905mem4.cfm.


In addition to participating in the UCLA History Alumni Lecture, joining the UCLA History Council or participating in the UCLA Friends of History, we also invite you to be part of the global alumni program Dinners for 12 Strangers on Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and March 6. As a participant, UCLA alumni open their homes to UCLA students while Bruins around the world celebrate simultaneously with fellow Bruins. For forty years this UCLA tradition has brought alumni, faculty and students together.

You can host or co-host a dinner, which can range in size from 5 people (students, alumni, faculty and guests) to as many as you would like to accommodate.  When enrolling, you can request to host History students, alumni and faculty and the Alumni Association will do their best to accommodate your request. No matter where you live, you can host a dinner! For more information and to enroll: http://www.uclalumni.net/CalendarEvents/d12/overview.cfm


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.

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

Summer 2008

Fall 2007

Spring 2007

Fall 2006