THOMAS JEFFERSON AWARD
Dr. C. Earl Edmondson, Professor of History
October 30, 2001
Each year Davidson College recognizes a faculty member who by personal influence, teaching, writing, and scholarship promotes the high ideals of Thomas Jefferson. The overriding outstanding quality is described as that of having given of self "generously and well beyond the call of duty."
In deference to whom we honor today and to his academic discipline, some primary source material is appropriate. In his first inaugural address delivered on March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson, speaking about the recently concluded election, said:
All will unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred
principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful
must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and
to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens unite with one heart and one mind.
Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life
itself are but dreary things.
To me these words, written just a few months more than two hundred years ago, describe well the efforts and spirit of today's recipient. He has an unwavering commitment to justice and to the protection of all. Moreover, he sets by personal example a standard of "harmony and affection" that is admired by faculty, staff, and students.
With sincere gratitude, students speak of his constant availability and willingness to help them. Whether working with them on courses assignments, reviewing drafts of papers, offering academic and career advice, or just listening, he is renowned for his patience and for his caring attitude. As departmental citizen and now as department chair, as well as a long-standing member of the Humanities staff, he strives to seek the common good for these academic entities. While his professional work and publication related primarily to 20th century Austrian history; now he is completing a volume, co-authored with a Russian scholar with contributions from other American scholars, on the origins of the Cold War.
On campus, his sense of fairness and justice has led both faculty colleagues and the administration to place him in important positions of responsibility. Whether serving on the Professional Affairs Committee or the Faculty Hearings Committee, he is always thorough, fair, and forthright. No task is too small to receive the full measure of his good effort. While on sabbatical last year, he graciously spent hours helping to rewrite portions of our faculty by-laws. With the care of Jefferson, he agonized over both the words and the broader implications of what was being drafted. Serving in a Secretary of State-like role for Davidson College, he has made two trips to Russia crafting and cementing our academic relationship with Moscow State University. Commitments to international efforts have long characterized this faculty member. He has been an active member of the International Education Committee and a mainstay on the Dean Rusk Program Advisory Committee.
For the last eight years he has served as secretary of the Davidson chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; in this role he meets individually with the more than fifty candidates whom we induct annually. Through tireless efforts with the Association of American University Professors, including service as the president of the North Carolina state organization, he has worked to ensure that this organization aimed at securing rights for all faculty survives at Davidson.
With pleasure and pride, a grateful community today recognizes the more than three decades of significant accomplishments and admirable personal example associated with this year's recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, Professor of History, C. Earl Edmondson.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is ranked in the top ten liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.