Nov. 7, 2006
SPRINGFIELD , Ohio – Before Wittenberg bids farewell to H. Orth Hirt Professor of History James L. Huffman at the close of the 2006-07 academic year, the university will host an academic conference in his honor titled “Japan and the World.”
The conference, scheduled for Nov. 10–11, includes themes of journalism and media in Japan, Japanese Imperialism and people’s history of Japan. All are topics that have long engaged Huffman, who has taught at Wittenberg for 26 years, in his specialized area of study – the history of Japan’s Meiji era.
Last year, Huffman was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Grant, which he used to conduct research in Japan from January through July 2006. It was his third Fulbright Award, and the latest in a long line of teaching honors Huffman has garnered in his distinguished career. Huffman also has been awarded the Ohio Academy of History’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Wittenberg’s most prestigious faculty honor, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.
In addition, Huffman was awarded honorary alumnus status at Wittenberg in 2006.
Huffman has written and published five books in his career. Two of his more well-known titles are A Yankee in Meiji Japan and Japan: A History in Documents. Huffman has also published articles in both Newsweek and The New York Times.
Although Huffman expressed appreciation for the conference that will be held in his honor, he declined to present a paper, saying he would rather participate as any other guest.
“I don’t like having attention,” he said. “It’s just my personality. But [the conference] is deeply touching.”
A native of South Bend, Ind., Huffman completed his undergraduate degree at Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan). Huffman earned an M.S.J. at Northwestern University and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Huffman’s involvement in education has included both his commitment to Wittenberg students and the education of area youth through his service on the Springfield City Board of Education.
Concerning his retirement, Huffman expressed mixed feelings.
“The time is right,” he said. “Retirement will essentially be a new career.”
He plans to spend time on new research, writing and becoming more of an activist. However, he laments leaving Wittenberg, a place he has called home for nearly 30 years.
“ Wittenberg really is my life,” Huffman said. “I’m appreciative to my colleagues and deeply indebted to my students. [Students] give me an energy that I live for.”
By: Rachel Morgan ‘08
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