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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 2009

KU prof nominated to national academy

October 15, 2009

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What do George Washington, Dustin Hoffman and Kansas University history professor Donald Worster have in common?

They’re all members of the same club —the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Worster traveled recently to Cambridge, Mass., to accept his nomination into the honorary society.

Worster, an environmental historian, is the author of several books, most recently “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir.” Three of his books have been nominated for Pulitzer Prizes.

At the ceremony, Worster said, most of the academics who were called represented a steady drumbeat of private colleges on the coasts — the likes of Harvard, Stanford and Princeton.

“I felt quite gratified,” he said. “I felt it was about time that work being done in the Midwest and at KU should be recognized.”

Worster said he had some time to examine the framed letters of acceptance from other members into the society through the years — people including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr., Charles Darwin and T.S. Eliot.

“It’s humbling,” he said.

The academy every year nominates a new field of members — mostly academics, but also some who have made contributions to the arts.

Worster said that while most of the celebrities didn’t attend the ceremony, two who did — actor James Earl Jones and singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris — performed a reading of letters between John and Abigail Adams.

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