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November 5, 2001

Three to receive top Alumni Association honors

By Louise Donahue

A widely published professor of classical studies at a California State University campus, a psychology professor at UCSC who is an authority on prison conditions, and a staff member who helped establish Kresge College have been named winners of the UCSC Alumni Association's achievement awards for 2001-02.

Victor Hanson. Photo: Onassis Foundation
photo of Craig Haney
Craig W. Haney. Photo: r.r. jones
photo of Betsy Wootten
Betsy Wootten. Photo: UCSC Photo Services
Victor Hanson will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, Professor of psychology Craig Haney will be honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award, and Betsy Wootten will be given the Outstanding Staff Award on February 2.

A luncheon honoring the three recipients will be held at noon that day at Stevenson College Dining Hall.The Alumni Council, the association's governing body, selected the winners based on nominations from students, faculty, alumni, and staff.

The awards luncheon will also recognize 11 students receiving the association's College Service Awards and 26 students winning the association's Scholarship Fund awards, which are based on financial need.

Victor Hanson has attracted scholarly as well as public attention for his provocative perspectives on the demise of the family farm, the humanities and their place in the intellectual health of our nation, military history, and the global role of the United States.

Hanson graduated from Cowell College in 1975 with a B.A. in Classic Literature, and received his Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University.

He has been a professor of classical studies in the School of the Arts and Humanities at CSU Fresno for 12 years; he also operates a family raisin farm in the San Joaquin Valley.

In describing Hanson's farming memoir Fields Without Dreams, New Yorker magazine said Hanson "writes like a Greek, with hubris, pursuit by Furies, fate, and tragic irony present in full measure."

Hanson has also contributed commentary on the events of September 11. "We are seeing the last bitter wages of decades of the moral vapidity inherent in cultural relativism; conflict-resolution theory; and a general ignorance of history, whose result has been to leave us Americans--of all people!--quite afraid," he wrote in National Review Online.

Among Hanson's many books are several on military history, both ancient and modern. In his most recent, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power, Hanson writes that he is attempting "to explain why Westerners have been so adept at using their civilization to kill others--at warring so brutally, so often without being killed."

Violence and brutality also play a major role in the work of teaching award winner Craig Haney, who has dedicated much of his life to studying the impact of incarceration and the system of capital punishment in the United States. His testimony has proved critical in several court decisions, including a judge's decision that conditions at the high-security Pelican Bay Prison "may press the bounds of what most humans can psychologically tolerate." With degrees in both law and psychology, Haney has done impressive research in both fields.

Many students nominating Haney for the award said his classes, his concern for students, and his commitment to social justice have inspired them. "He is an absolutely outstanding teacher, a captivating lecturer, an inspirational activist, and a caring mentor for his students," wrote Laura Wolf, who graduated from UCSC in sociology earlier this year. Peace Corps volunteer Heidi Ehrlich, who graduated in 1997 with a psychology degree, wrote from Africa that Haney "taught me to challenge myself and others whenever possible."

"In his lectures he constantly connects profound theoretical and philosophical issues to empirical research and to public policy," wrote Craig Reinarman, professor of sociology. "He is an absolutely gifted presenter who provides gripping anecdotes to illustrate his points and leaves part of his soul on the floor of the lecture hall."

Professor Haney has taught at UCSC for 25 years. He is "a dedicated teacher whose work with students, both in and out of the classroom, is indicative of the highest values of education," wrote dean of social sciences Martin Chemers. "He is deeply concerned about our society and its citizens, and he transfers that concern to his students." A profile of Haney and his work appeared in the Summer 2000 issue of the UCSC Review.

Outstanding Staff Award winner Betsy Wootten is the supervisor of faculty services at Kresge College. She is the "friend and confidant of students, faculty and staff, their first point of contact and their appeal of last resort," wrote Helene Moglen, professor of literature, in nominating her. Wootten has been at Kresge from its beginning in 1971, and her office has become "absolutely the heart of the college," wrote Sarah Rabkin, a lecturer in the Writing Program based there.

Wootten is widely known for drawing people together: "She has bridged the gap between the faculty and staff in a remarkable way," wrote Paul Skenazy, professor of American literature and former Kresge College provost. "Her long years of work, her deep commitment to Kresge over those years, and the lifelong relationships she has established with staff, students, and faculty make her uniquely deserving of this award," he added.

Wootten's efforts have contributed immensely to the teaching and research success of dozens of Kresge College faculty. "Over the years, her professional touch influenced scores of publications and papers that brought distinction to the campus," wrote Cher Roberts, coordinator of Staff Human Resources and Operations. "Her support of classroom preparations facilitated faculty efforts to provide students with the highest quality instruction," Roberts added.

"Betsy cares deeply about all aspects of UCSC: the dignity of staff, the well-being of students, providing a level of faculty support that I have experienced at no other institution," wrote Peter Euben, professor of politics. "I do not know what I would do without her."

Nominations for the UCSC Alumni Association awards are accepted year-round.
Those wishing to attend the luncheon on February 2 should call the Alumni Association at (831) 459-2530 or (800) 933-SLUG.

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