From CU-Boulder News Release April 10, 2001

Patricia Limerick Named Hazel Barnes Prize Winner

Patricia Nelson Limerick, professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder and chair of the board of the Center of the American West, has been selected to receive the Hazel Barnes Prize, CU-Boulder's highest recognition for teaching and research.

The prize includes an engraved University Medal and a cash award of $20,000, the largest single faculty award funded by the university. She will be recognized during summer commencement exercises on Aug. 11.

Limerick is a nationally renowned author and historian of the American West and has served as president of the Western History Association and the American Studies Association. In addition to her groundbreaking scholarship, Limerick is well known for her dedication to CU students and for her wit and sense of humor.

At her own request, she was named CU's official "University Fool" in 1988 by former CU President Gordon Gee. She held similar positions at Harvard and Yale, where she previously taught. As University Fool, Limerick tours campus each April 1, most years, to remind people to lighten up and not take themselves too seriously. Her contract as fool runs through 2003 and is listed on her resume.

"Professor Limerick is a strong leader on campus and one of our outstanding teachers," said Chancellor Richard L. Byyny. "Her ingenuity played a significant role in the development of the Center of the American West, a unique interdisciplinary center that has received national recognition. We are pleased to congratulate her on this high honor."

Limerick is best known for authoring the landmark 1987 book, "The Legacy of Conquest," that initially generated debate among historians and cultural commentators. She received both praise and criticism for debunking some long-held myths about the West and for focusing attention on women, minorities and the environment.

Today, Limerick's views are widely accepted. She also is the author of "Something in the Soil" and "Desert Passages," both of which were recently released in paperback, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, USA Today and local newspapers.

Limerick "is an original, learned, passionate writer," wrote author Larry McMurtry. "Everything she writes about the history of the American West deserves attention."

The Center of the American West, which Limerick co-founded, sponsors about 40 public lectures, seminars and performances each year, in addition to numerous conferences, publications and projects on such topics as Western growth and wildfires. Its popular mock divorce hearing between the rural and urban West has been performed throughout the state for several years.

"I think there's a huge audience of people who want to know more about the West," said Limerick, who is a passionate advocate for taking academic knowledge outside the walls of the university. One of her most popular articles is titled "Dancing With Professors: The Trouble With Academic Prose."

Limerick, who turns 50 on May 17, has been a member of the CU-Boulder faculty since 1984 and teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. She is an associate director of CU-Boulder's Minority Arts and Sciences Program and in 1995 was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the "genius grant."

Limerick is the 10th Hazel Barnes Prize recipient, joining John Birks of chemistry (2000), John Taylor of physics (1999), G. Dale Meyer of business (1998), Jane Bock of EPO biology (1997), John "Jack" Kelso of anthropology (1996), Michael Grant of EPO biology (1995), David Prescott of MCD biology (1994), Reginald Saner of English (1993) and Klaus Timmerhaus of chemical engineering (1992).

The Hazel Barnes Prize was established in 1991 by former Chancellor James Corbridge in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes to recognize "the enriching interrelationship between teaching and research."