URI professor wins first national education
award for labor history
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 30, 2001 -- University of Rhode Island Professor
Scott Molloy's teaching philosophy is that you have to be the captain of
two great ships: scholarship and showmanship. Whether he is telling of his
experiences at a labor union meeting or passing around artifacts from his
extensive labor history collection, Molloy has been making waves in the
area of labor history education.
He recently charted new territory as the Industrial Relations Research
Association presented Molloy with the first Excellence in Education award
in labor history. Molloy was selected from candidates around the nation
based on his teaching philosophy, innovation, quality of materials, and
the ability to inspire students to a love of the subject.
"It's very prestigious to know that this is the first time this
award was presented. Being the first one selected is a really great feeling;
I'm really honored," said Molloy, a resident of West Kingston.
"Scott is one of the University's superstars, and I am extremely
pleased that he has received this well-deserved recognition. We are all
proud of him," said M. Beverly Swan, Provost and Vice-President of
"This is a huge honor for Scott, the Labor Research Center, and
the University. This says that Scott is the best labor history professor
in the North America," said Charles T. Schmidt, professor emeritus
and former director of the Labor Research Center.
"This honor is well deserved. Scott is a truly outstanding teacher,
whose passion for education and labor history extends far beyond the classroom.
It is an impressive accomplishment to have gained this kind of recognition
from the foremost scholarly organization in the field of industrial and
labor relations in the United States," said Terry Thomason, director
of the Labor Research Center.
Molloy has been navigating the area of labor history for more than 20
years now. After graduating from Rhode Island College in 1970, Molloy began
an 11-year career as a bus driver for the Rhode Island Public Transportation
Authority (RIPTA). He later became an official of the Amalgamated Transit
Union, Division 618 at RIPTA, eventually earning the position of business
agent. While driving busses for RIPTA, Molloy earned his doctorate from
Molloy joined URI in 1986 as a summer lecturer, bringing his experiences
and love of labor history.
"Labor history is so interesting. It's not just a story; it's an
analysis of life. I try to convey my enthusiasm for the subject, because
if I'm not interested, why should my students be?"
Molloy's enthusiasm for labor history is not something that can easily
be missed. Just look around his office, home, or even the Smithsonian Institution
in Washington D.C. to see artifacts from his extensive labor collection.
Molloy's collection began after he found a small pin from his union in a
bookstore. He started collecting other union items as a hobby and his collection
soon grew so large that the Smithsonian acquired 10,000 pieces of it to
create the Scott Molloy Labor Collection.
"I felt I had this mandate inside of me to save working-class history.
It became so consuming that I might've missed some rent payments along the
way," joked Molloy.
The Smithsonian is not the only place to view Molloy's collection, though.
He often turns his classroom into a "hands-on museum" to catch
the interest of his students.
"It seems to bring the point home to my students. If you can look
and touch something directly, it makes the subject matter more real,"
Although Molloy's showmanship may keep students interested, it is his
scholarship that has kept Molloy's classrooms filled to capacity and led
to the URI Foundation naming him teacher of the year in 1995. Besides publishing
numerous articles about labor, industrial, and transit history, Molloy authored
Trolley Wars: Streetcar Workers on the Line, and an Images of America
book entitled All Aboard: The History of Mass Transportation in Rhode
Molloy founded the Rhode Island Labor History Society in 1987 and served
as its president for 11 years. He also served as president of the Rhode
Island chapter of the Industrial Research Relations Association. He is active
in the Woonsocket Museum of Work and Culture, the Heritage Harbor Museum
in Providence, and the R.I. Irish Famine Memorial.
Even though Molloy's office in Kingston is a different world from his
start in a Providence garage, the experience of it is still the driving
force behind his teaching.
"I've never forgotten where I came from, never forgotten my ethnic
roots and my working-class background. I still remember what it was like
to be a bus driver, and the things that I would see. I take a moment whenever
I can to say I am a lucky son-of-a-gun. I always try to help my students
and pay people back, no matter what I do, where I go," said Molloy.
For Information: Scott Molloy, 401-874-2569,
Dave Lavallee, 401-874-2116, Jennifer Smith, 401-874-2116