Richard E. Sullivan, 1921-2005

Richard E. Sullivan, Professor Emeritus of History and Humanities at Michigan State, died on May 26, 2005. In his 34 year career at the university, he served as the chair of the History department for four years and dean of the College of Arts and Letters for nine. A scholar of early medieval Europe, he was also the primary advisor for 26 doctoral students between 1964 and 1997.

Professor Sullivan was remembered at a memorial convocation and conference on the campus of Michigan State University in December of 2005. Gordon Stewart, a member of the History faculty, was among those who spoke at the memorial convocation, held in the Alumni Memorial Chapel on Friday the 2nd. Professors Samuel Thomas, Emily Tabuteau and Alan Fisher all participated in the memorial conference, held the next day at the Kellogg Center. Professor Sullivan’s former students were also well represented at both events.

The Department of History has established the Richard E. Sullivan Endowed Award for Teaching Excellence, which will honor members of the faculty who exemplify excellence in teaching and perform duties of advisor and mentor at an extraordinary level.

The College of Arts and letters, in addition to organizing the memorial convocation and conference, will also be honoring Professor Sullivan with a special issue of Muses, a Magazine of the Arts and Humanities, due out in the spring of 2006.

Remembering Richard Sullivan

Samuel Thomas, Professor of History: “While I had known Richard for many years, my acquaintance with him grew especially during his retirement years. He was a scholar to the very end, setting aside one bedroom of a two-bedroom retirement apartment as an office where he continued, despite failing health, to try to keep up with the literature in his field of medieval history. He was especially grateful when I was able to arrange for him to receive photocopies of scholarly articles from the MSU library when he was no longer able to go there himself. I was grateful just to be able to do something that would give him such pleasure.He was a man of great integrity and kindness, a gentleman and scholar who made MSU a better place because of his presence and influence.” (MSU News Bulletin, 5/27/2005)

Amy Livingstone, former student and chair of the Department of History at Wittenberg University: “Richard let you find your own way, but he was wonderful in guiding you through the minefield.” (Lansing State Journal, 5/28/2005)