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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Princeton professor wins first Joseph B. Gittler Prize

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Front Page

In a campus-wide e-mail sent Thursday, President Reinharz announced the first recipient of the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, Princeton professor Kwame Anthony Appiah. The prize is supported by the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Endowed Fund. Appiah will receive his award Oct. 27.

The $25,000 prize, according to Reinharz’s message, is awarded to individuals who have made “lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and/or religious relations.”

Joseph B. Gittler, a sociologist who taught at Duke, Iowa State University, the University of Rochester, Hiroshima University of Japan, and Ben-Gurion University in Israel, among others, focused his studies on the experience of minority groups as well as relations between different racial and religious groups. Gittler died at the age of 93 in 2005.

A number of awards are given in Gittler’s name, including one from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and another from the American Philosophical Association. The Brandeis award also honors Gittler’s mother Toby Gittler, the university’s website explained.

In the late 1990s, before his death, Gittler met with Reinharz to discuss the prize. Executive Assistant to the President and Assistant Secretary of the Corporation John Hose explained, “Prof. Gittler reached out to the president. [He] had indicated the nature of the fund, the prize, and its purpose.” Hose added that the prize’s “provisions were written into Prof. Gittler’s estate plans.”

The nomination process began last fall and the decision was finalized over the summer, Hose said.

“Nominations for this year’s Gittler Prize were reviewed by a committee I chaired whose members included Professor David Cunningham, Professor Laurence Simon, Dr. Daniel Terris, Senior Vice President Lorna Miles and Dr. John Hose,” Reinharz wrote in an e-mail message to The Hoot.

Appiah, who was born in England and grew up in Ghana, received his PhD from Cambridge in 1982.

Currently, Appiah serves as the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and University Center for Human Values at Princeton. He has received numerous academic honors including the Herskovitz Prize for African Studies in English in 1993 and the Arthur Ross Book Award of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2007.

Appiah has also been awarded several honorary degrees and is a member of the American Philosophical Society as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

While Appiah has received many honors, he insisted in a phone interview that he was “very honored and surprised” to have received the Gittler Prize.

“I had no idea at all [that I had been nominated],” Appiah remarked. “In fact, if I had known,” he added, “I wouldn’t have expected to get it.”

When asked how he will make use of the prize money, Appiah said that as of yet, he has not plans. However, he joked, “it’s about my fair share of the federal bailout.”