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June 2, 2003

La Salle University History Professor George Stow
Receives Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award

When George Stow, a La Salle University History Professor, received a message in April informing him that he had been summoned to the office of La Salle's provost, Dr. Richard Nigro, Stow immediately thought that he was somehow in trouble. So it was something of a relief for him when Nigro told Stow he was to be the recipient of The Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.
"Quite honestly, I wondered if my teaching would ever warrant the Lindback Award," says Stow, who has been at La Salle since 1972. "Anybody who says they don't think about the possibility of receiving it just isn't being truthful."

During his high school years, Stow says he displayed little interest in his course work.

"Anyone who knew me in high school would never think I'd someday be a professor," says Stow: 'YOU are a college professor!?!' they remark at high school reunions."

The turning point in his life, says Stow, was a three-year stint in the U.S. Army following high school. He credits the Army for instilling a sense of discipline and for a period of reflection on his future. Near the end of his two-year service in England, he had begun to read voraciously, and he knew even before leaving the Army that he wanted to some day teach at the college level.

Stow graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Lehigh University as a Classics (Latin and Greek) major at 27. He later earned his M.A. from the University of Southern California and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, specializing in medieval history. For his contributions to this field of study, Stow has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Yet for all his research accomplishments, Stow believes there is a connection between research and publication on the one hand, and good classroom teaching on the other hand. When asked what it is that he values most about teaching, Stow says, "It seems to me that one of the more important--not to mention interesting--aspects of a career in academia is the opportunity to mold young minds." As he puts it: "And what better way to do this than by passing on to one's students not only the joy of learning for its own sake, but also the more practical aspects of thinking through a research problem and then presenting a solution in the form of a research paper."

While Stow is proud of his scholarly publications, "In the final analysis it is the teaching that counts the most," he says. "To have an influence in shaping the thoughts and careers of young people is far more important in the long run than a list of one's publications. Being named as the winner of the Lindback Award is really the capstone of my academic career."

Stow's particular area of scholarly interest is the reign of England's King Richard II, (1377-1399), who is often confused with other monarchs. "People will say, 'Isn't he the Lionhearted?' and I say, No, that's Richard the First," says Stow, "and then people say, "Well, didn't he kill his two nephews in the Tower of London?' and I tell them, No, that was Richard the Third." Some scholars argue that Richard II was insane, says Stow, a notion he completely disagrees with. "He may have been a tyrannical ruler, and perhaps worthy of deposition from the throne, but nowhere in the contemporary sources is there even a hint of his alleged insanity."

Rather, says Stow, "Richard was a Shakespearean figure, whose downfall represents a personal tragedy, the result of deep-seated flaws of character." Still, according to Stow, Richard II accomplished a great deal during his lifetime: "We should never lose sight of the fact that Richard was at the center of a brilliant court, which included many prominent men of letters, including the poet Geoffrey Chaucer."

Stow has published several works shedding new light on Richard II and his reign. One of these was a critical edition of one of the more important monastic chronicles of the reign. Stow has also published numerous articles concerning Richard II (including one in which he demonstrates that Richard very likely was the originator of the pocket handkerchief) in leading medieval journals, including Speculum and The English Historical Review.

In announcing the award, Dr. Nigro remarked, "This year's awardee has had an outstanding 30-year career at the University, distinguishing himself in the classroom, at professional conferences, and in interactions with both present and former students. He is praised by his students as a teacher who helped them 'gain an overall understanding of the flow of history' and is 'an excellent teacher who pushes his students to do their best.' Nominations from his colleagues over many years reveal similar reasons for his deserving this award: 'first-rate teacher and scholar'; 'regarded by experts as one of the leading authorities (in his field).' I am most happy, then, to announce the 2003 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Winner: Professor of History,
Dr. George Stow."