Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Ronald C. Finucane
2007 DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR
Ronald C. Finucane
Professor of History
Ronald C. Finucane is an internationally recognized expert in medieval history. Regarded as an outstanding scholar by his colleagues at Oakland University, he has also been described as one of the foremost medieval historians of his generation. With four major book publications to date, and nearly two dozen articles and book chapters, he has established a reputation as a scholar who has brought distinction to Oakland University. His dedication to rigorous teaching and service to his department and the wider university community merit the rank of Distinguished Professor.
Finucane joined the Oakland University faculty in 1991, and served as chair of the department of History from 1991-2000. During the period of his leadership he rejuvenated a divided department and committed his energies to creating a more productive scholarly environment for faculty and students. Students benefited from his efforts to restructure departmental requirements by greater emphasis on multi-cultural understandings of historical development and by demanding more rigorous standards of research through the implementation of a senior capstone course. Finucane’s teaching has been extensively praised by both undergraduate and graduate students, as evidenced by his nomination for the 2004-2005 Teaching Excellence Award.
Finucane has contributed to the field of medieval history with four books: "Miracles and Pilgrims" (1977, republished in paperback 1995, 1996, 2004, History Book selection); "Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts" (1982, 1984) and republished in paperback as "Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation" (1996) and translated into Italian; "Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War" (1983, audio book 1988/9, History Book Club selection); and "The Rescue of the Innocents: Endangered Children in Medieval Miracles" (1997, paperback 2000). The significance of Finucane’s work has been officially recognized by some of the most prestigious scholarly entities in the world, including The American Council of Learned Societies, which featured his first book, "Miracles and Pilgrims," in its collection of important titles in the field of history. Appearing in its third reprint in 1994, "Miracles and Pilgrims" was also praised in the "Times Literary Supplement" as the “fullest, most thorough and intelligent study of medieval miracle stories to have appeared in any language.” It is noteworthy that Finucane’s first book remains in print, after a quarter of a century, and that it is still considered the standard work in its field. Moreover, his books have appealed to a popular audience, rare for an academic writer, with two volumes having the distinction of being History Book Club selections.
Professor Finucane has been the recipient of many research awards, including a substantial award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2005. He was also awarded an Oakland University Research Excellence Award in 1998. A particularly significant and rare honor for an American scholar was the election of Finucane as Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London, the most distinguished historical organization in the U.K.
Finucane’s impressive scholarly contributions to his field of medieval history, as well as his excellent record as a teacher and departmental leader have contributed significantly to Oakland as a university of distinction.