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In Memoriam: Ruth Simms Hamilton

In MemoriamRuth Simms Hamilton (1937-2003)The Michigan State University community, along with others in higher education, mourned the loss of long-time MSU professor of sociology Ruth Simms Hamilton. She was 66 years old.“Dr. Hamilton was a valued member of our community for more than 30 years,” said Dr. Marietta Baba, dean of the MSU College of Social Science. “Her visionary work — most recently in leading a team in the design of a new urban studies initiative at Michigan State University — contributed greatly to our understanding of modern social processes. She was a highly regarded professional as well as a good friend to many of us.”Upon joining the university community in 1968, Hamilton began a stellar career marked by high-quality academic research, visionary thinking and inspired teaching. Most recently, Hamilton led the Urban and Metropolitan Studies Design Team — a task force established to design a new urban studies initiative at MSU — and lent her vision, expertise and enthusiasm to the undertaking. Prior to her work on the design team, Hamilton served as director of the African Diaspora Research Project since 1987. The project examines the dispersion and settlement of African peoples beyond the African continent, and the project originated in the need for a broader understanding of communities of African descent. An 11-volume series on the project is being published. “Ruth was more than an example of the ‘total scholar,’ she was a model,” said MSU Provost Lou Anna K. Simon. “A distinguished researcher, a master teacher, a service-directed faculty member and a beloved mentor, Ruth Hamilton truly was a person of significant influence and impact. She brought academic prestige to this university time and again, and her widely admired leadership of the African Diaspora Research Project will influence scholars and many policy-makers for decades to come.” “Ruth Hamilton was not only a cherished and honored member of the MSU community, but a widely respected member of an international community of scholars,” said MSU President Peter McPherson. “Her commitment to scholarship and to global understanding won her the admiration of students, faculty, researchers and so many others over the years. Surely, the impact of her work and service lives on in her publications, in her example and in the many students now located throughout the world she so profoundly impressed inside and outside the classroom.” Hamilton was a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and served as a core faculty member in the African Studies Center, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development. In 2000, she was awarded the A. Wade Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching, Mentoring and Service by the Association of Black Sociologists. The MSU community honored her with the Ralph H. Smuckler Award for Advancing International Studies and Programs in 1995. 

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