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Professor named first successor to position

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Humanistic studies professor Gail Mandell made Saint Mary’s history Monday after being named the second Bruno P. Schlesinger Chair in Humanistic Studies during her inauguration lecture “Belize Revisited: Readings from a Work-in-Progress.”

Mandell is the College’s first successor in an endowed chair. Vice President and dean of faculty Patrick White commented on the importance of the occasion, noting the progression from having no endowed chairs 21 years ago to now naming a successor.

“Endowed chairs are in some way a sign of the strength of the College because this is money that has been set aside to support these members of faculty and their teaching and research,” he said.

Although the inaugural lecture honored Mandell, much of the focus was on recognizing and thanking the College’s first endowed chair, professor emeritus Bruno Schlesinger, who retired in December after 60 years of teaching at Saint Mary’s.

Schlesinger was unable to attend the lecture due to illness, but he requested that associate professor and department chair Phil Hicks read a statement he prepared.

“I offer Gail warm congratulations for this honor so richly deserved,” Schlesinger said in the statement.

Schlesinger also offered some advice to Mandell in his statement.

“When I received the endowed chair in 1988, Dr. Hickey asked if I would like a dinner in recognition,” he said, “but I replied I would prefer a reserved parking spot in the Madaleva lot to protect me from the South Bend winters.” Schlesinger went on to say that he hoped Mandell would demand the same perks with her appointment.

White and Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney selected Mandell as the next Bruno P. Schlesinger endowed chair based on recommendations from faculty in the humanistic studies department as well as advice from other endowed chairs.

Mandell began the lecture by expressing her gratitude and admiration of Schlesinger.

“He knew it was the job for me, even before I did,” she said, recalling how Schlesinger recruited her in 1978 to be the second professor in the humanistic studies department.

Some of the work that Mandell has done over the years was showcased at the lecture, where she read selections from a book she is currently writing about experiences she had teaching for the Peace Corps in Belize during the 1960s and from her recent return trip.

Schlesinger created the department in 1956 as the Christian culture program, and it was eventually developed into humanistic studies.