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Sunday, June 26, 2022

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Paul J. Vanderwood Paul J. Vanderwood

In Memoriam: Paul J. Vanderwood

The professor emeritus taught Latin American history for 25 years.
By Leah Singer

Above all, students and history colleagues respected Paul J. Vanderwood, professor emeritus of history at San Diego State University.

Vanderwood began his teaching career at SDSU in 1969 and instilled his love of Latin American history for 25 years. Vanderwood died of bowel cancer in October 2011 at the age of 82.

Shifting careers

Vanderwood began his history career as a journalist studying such public figures as Elivs Presley and Martin Luther King Jr. His career shifted when he joined SDSU as a history professor and went on to become a leading international scholar in the field of Mexican and Latin American history.

“He was a scholar adventurer,” said Joanne Ferraro, chair and professor in the SDSU Department of History. “[He was] keen to learn about the beliefs and practices of the Mexican peoples.”

Scholarly adventures

Vanderwood often visited remote villages in Mexico to observe local customs and religious traditions, which he then brought back to his students at SDSU and the history field throughout the world.

He authored several books and journal articles, many of which won awards. In addition to the recognition he received while teaching, Vanderwood posthumously received the 2011 Distinguished Service Award of the Conference on Latin American History.

“Paul Vanderwood was one the most imaginative and prolific scholars in the Department of History,” Ferraro said. “His department was very proud of his accomplishments.”