URI History Professor honored by alma mater
KINGSTON, R.I. -- December 15, 2000 -- Called the premier railroad historian
in the country, University of Rhode Island professor Maury Klein has laid
tracks in a number of areas, including researching, writing, teaching, and
acting. A renowned and well-published historian, he has not only studied
the legacies of people in history, he has become quite a story himself.
Most recently, Klein, of Narragansett, received two prestigious
awards from his alma mater, Knox College, in Illinois: the 2001 Alumni Achievement
Award and an honorary doctorate.
The Knox College Alumni Association will present Klein with its Alumni
Achievement Award at its Founder's Day Celebration in February. The award
is given annually to three alumni in recognition of their meritorious career
achievements. The honorary degree will be conferred upon Klein during the
college's commencement exercises in June. The honorary degree has been conferred
annually since it was first given in 1860 to Abraham Lincoln and honors
men and women who have had distinguished careers.
"It's incredibly flattering to receive an honorary degree from
your alma mater. I have very strong feelings about my college, and I think
it taught me more than anything else has about the values of life,"
Klein's experiences at Knox College led him to delve into the subject
"I'm interested in people. When I was in college, I realized you
could teach a number of different areas if you teach history. I like finding
out why people do what they do and how they do it. I became particularly
interested in business history while at college, because it seems that business
history is at the center of all history," explained Klein.
Klein graduated from Knox College in 1960 with a bachelor of arts degree,
and later came to URI in 1964 as an instructor. He earned his master's and
doctoral degrees at Emory University. He has been a professor of history
since 1973. Since then Klein has been an avid writer, and has published
11 books and authored numerous articles for scholarly journals and magazines.
His 12th book, Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929, is going to press.
"When I came here I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to write.
And that's what I've done," said Klein.
Three of his books have been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, including
The Life and Legend of E.H. Harriman, The Flowering of the Third
America: The Making of an Organizational Society, and The Life and
Legend of Jay Gould. The Life and Legend of Jay Gould, which
chronicles North America's railroading history, also received the prestigious
Outstanding Book Award given by The Railway & Locomotive Historical
Society. He also received this same award for Union Pacific: The Birth,
1862-1893. Klein was the first person to be honored twice with the Outstanding
Klein has been involved with Trinity Repertory Co. and its Humanities
Program, which in 1982-83 won a national award as the best humanities program
in the United States. Klein conceived the program's original idea of Theatre
as a Cultural Document. Through the funding of a grant, essayists commented
on Trinity's plays, and those pieces were distributed before the shows and
discussed afterwards. Klein served as a consultant, author, panelist, and
moderator of the program.
Klein has also acted in almost 20 plays here at URI, and served as acting
chair of the Theatre Department twice. Not surprisingly, some of his favorite
shows were William Shakespeare's histories and other period shows.
He has also served as director of the honors program for six years, chairman
of the Faculty Senate, chairman of the arts council, chairman of the provost
evaluation committee, and many other committees.
Even though his life can get extremely busy, Klein has no regrets that
this was the path he chose while at Knox College.
"I am still as happy and as excited to go to work every morning
as I was when I started thirty years ago," remarked Klein.
For Information: Maury Klein, 401-874-5486, Jennifer Smith,