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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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 Academic Affairs.

"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 Providence College.

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," he explained.

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 Island.

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

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Copyright 2001 University of Rhode Island. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Page last revised on Saturday, February 24, 2001 .