Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kind Words from the Distant Past

It's been more than 30 years since I was awarded a Ph.D. in History at Northern Illinois University, and have had very little contact with the school since.  It turns out that the History Department is trying to track down all of its doctoral grads and has been successful, but for me and 6 others.  Part of my falling through the cracks relates to the age-old maiden name/married name conundrum.  The department contacted my major professor and dissertation director Otto Olsen, now living in Florida.  This is what he wrote back:  "Ruth Tucker is one of most prolific PhDs we have had, but her work has largely been ignored, probably  because of its religious focus. I would urge you simply to type Ruth Tucker into Google and you will get all the information you could desire. In addition to her significant publications, she has been an excellent teacher and very much embroiled in the struggle for women’s rights. In my estimation N.I.U should and would benefit from paying more attention and awarding more recognition to her achievements and activities."  How incredibly kind and generous.  He's a brilliant scholar and I accept his words as the highest compliment. I feared for a time that I wouldn't get my degree because of what seemed to be over-the-top demands, but in the end it worked out.  And, I now recognize how critical his demands have been to my profession as an historian.