Joe Ellis to Share Life Lessons March 27

Posted: March 21, 2007

As part of the Office of Academic Development's series, A Known Way, A Safe Passage, Joe Ellis, Professor of History on the Ford Foundation, will talk about the role that academic achievement and excellence have played in his career and life journey. He will speak at 6:30 pm Tuesday, March 27 in Room 305 in Kendade Hall.

The series, which began last fall, brings faculty, staff, and community leaders to deliver brief lectures and answer questions about the role that academic achievement and excellence have played in their careers and life journeys, as well as the value that they place on academic achievement in their current work. It is one of "several initiatives that the president and deans have developed to enhance high-level learning at Mount Holyoke," said Lucas Wilson, director of academic development and associate professor of African American studies and economics.

Ellis is a world-renowned historian of American history. He received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He served in the army and also taught at West Point until 1972, when he joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke. He has written numerous books on American history, including Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, for which he won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in History, and American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, which earned a National Book Award in 1997. His latest book, American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, will be published in fall 2007.

This spring Ellis is teaching two seminars, one on Thomas Jefferson and another titled Back to the Future, which examines the work of past and present prophets of history, including Tocqueville, Huxley, and Orwell.

Regarding what he plans to speak about in the series next week, he said, "There has been nothing either known or safe about my passage. My life has been a series of improvisations. The moments when you have to make a decision about something important, you almost never have enough information to make it knowledgeably. There's a lot of chance involved."

The talk is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.