Detroit Mercy's Fr. Staudenmaier To Be
Gasson Professor

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College has named University of Detroit Mercy History Professor John M. Staudenmaier, SJ, a scholar of technology and its impact on society and culture, as the Thomas I. Gasson, SJ, Professor for 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

Fr. Staudenmaier is editor of Technology and Culture , the international quarterly journal of the Society for the History of Technology, a five-year appointment he began serving in 1995. He is the author of Technology's Storytellers: Reweaving the Human Fabric , for which he received an Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award in 1986.

"We're very pleased to welcome Fr. Staudenmaier as our next Gasson Professor," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. "The blend of science, technology and history he brings to his work is fascinating, and will further enrich the quality of scholarship and teaching at Boston College."

"It is an honor to have a Jesuit scholar of Fr. Staudenmaier's stature," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "His presence will certainly enhance our already strong History Department. Furthermore, at a time when the University is incorporating technology more and more into its daily life, Fr. Staudenmaier can perhaps help us examine questions this trend might raise."

John M. Staudenmaier, SJ.
Fr. Staudenmaier will succeed Richard Blake, SJ, a film historian who will remain a member of the Fine Arts faculty after his tenure as Gasson Professor ends. The Gasson chair, the university's first endowed professorship, was established in 1975 with a gift from the Jesuit Community. It supports a distinguished Jesuit scholar's visiting professorship in any discipline at the University.

"This is a real windfall for me," said Fr. Staudenmaier, who has taught at Detroit Mercy since 1981 and on several occasions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I have some book projects in mind, and as Gasson Professor I will be able to pay some attention to my scholarship. I am also very pleased to be coming back to Boston, which I consider my principal intellectual home.

"Most of all, I am enthusiastic about the chance to know Boston College better," he added. "I've been impressed with its commitment to strengthening research opportunities and resources for its faculty. As a visiting faculty member, I've always enjoyed getting to know the students, and I look forward to engaging them at Boston College."

As Gasson Professor, Fr. Staudenmaier will teach in the History Department and present public lectures concerning his research.

At Detroit Mercy, Fr. Staudenmaier has taught courses and seminars on subjects such as US technological and labor history, the politics and ethics of engineering, and gender and technology. He was a visiting faculty member at MIT in 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1990, and a fellow at MIT's Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology in 1993. He also has taught at Santa Clara University, St. Louis University and the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, Fr. Staudenmaier has worked for more than 30 years with the Lakota people at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He has taught and counseled students at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, directed a teenage recreational program and performed other pastoral duties.

His early years at Pine Ridge, Fr. Staudenmaier said, coincided with a growing interest in technology issues, and led him to explore these in the context of Catholic and Jesuit spirituality.

"We cannot truly know the grace of God if we do not pay attention to the times," he explained. "Grace works through the human experience and from the fabric of life. Today, one of the most important dimensions to human experience is the way public discourse treats technology, and the way technology itself is evolving. Those are the questions at the center of my research and teaching."

Fr. Staudenmaier earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy in 1963 and 1964, respectively, at St. Louis University, where from 1967-71 he studied theology at the School of Divinity. He also holds master's and doctoral degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

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