INSIDE Chico State
0 February 5, 2004
Volume 34 Number 7
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico




From the President's Desk

Briefly Noted



Librarian at Large





Outstanding Professor Named

Laird Easton

Laird Easton
Photo by Jeff Teeter

History's Laird Easton Named 2003–04 Outstanding Professor

Professor Laird M. Easton, Department of History, was named Outstanding Professor for 2003–2004, the highest honor awarded to faculty at CSU, Chico. The Faculty Recognition and Support Committee recommends the recipient from a pool of high-achieving faculty nominated by their colleagues.

Easton received the honor for his scholarly research and writing, which resulted in the highly acclaimed The Red Count: The Life and Times of Harry Kessler (University of California Press, 2002); his high-quality teaching; his dedicated mentoring of graduate students; and his many contributions to the intellectual and scholarly environment of the department and the university.

"Laird's sense of collegiality, unwavering intellectual presence, and constant friendship have sustained my vision of being a scholar-teacher amid a community of scholar-teachers," said Larry Bryant, a colleague in the Department of History.

Easton's The Red Count received national and international acclaim. The Washington Post Book World recommended the book in its "Summer Reading" issue, and it received reviews in Harpers Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and The (London) Times Literary Supplement, among others. The New York Review of Books chose it as a "Reader's Catalogue Selection," a list of the most important books in print in every category.

A quote from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 30, 2002, is typical of the reviews the book received: "This excellent biography should be read by everyone with an interest in the history of modern Europe and indeed the modern world."

"The Red Count was based on more than a decade of research in three different languages conducted in 11 different archives spread across five different countries," said Easton.

Easton came to Chico in 1991 from Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. in European history. He worked as an acquisitions editor for the University of California Press after he received his master's degree from Stanford in 1982. He did his undergraduate work at Cornell University, graduating magna cum laude and with distinction in 1978. He spent his junior year in Paris at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He speaks German and French and reads Spanish, Italian, and Latin.

Easton said of the integration of scholarship and teaching, "I left a very enjoyable career in publishing both to pursue my own scholarship and to teach: the two activities are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforce each other. I am a better teacher for being a scholar." He listed three ways in which his scholarship directly enhances his teaching: the importance of modeling being a historian to students; the enrichment of the content of his courses through "the rich, personal material that enlivens lectures and makes abstract issues vivid"; and the understanding of the struggle with problems of research and composition that students also face.

A former student, who earned her doctorate at Indiana University and now teaches at California State University, Hayward, described Easton as "the most outstanding teacher and scholar I have had the privilege of knowing in my academic career."

Easton has been the director of the Humanities Center at CSU, Chico since 2001. In that role, he has brought renowned scholars such as literary critic Roger Shattuck and philosopher Richard Rorty to campus. He co-led the College of Humanities and Fine Arts London Semester in spring 2000.

In addition to his book, Easton published "The Rise and Fall of the 'Third Weimar': Harry Graf Kessler and the Aesthetic State in Wilhelmian Germany, 1902–1906," in Central European History , Vol. 29, No. 4, 1996. He has also published 16 reviews of books and textbooks about European history and delivered seven conference papers during his tenure at CSU, Chico.

Kathleen McPartland



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