Sacks HonoredGAMBIER, Ohio (December 12, 2008) The work of Interim Provost Howard Sacks is a textbook example of how the humanities can enhance the community, bringing him a high honor this month from the Ohio Humanities Council.
The humanities council named Sacks the recipient of the 2008 Bjornson Award for Distinguished Service in the Humanities at a dinner in Columbus, Ohio, on December 5. The annual award marks career contributions to the public knowledge and appreciation of the humanities. Sacks, professor of sociology and director of the Kenyon Rural Life Center, has "worked tirelessly to promote the humanities and to help make connections between diverse peoples of Ohio and their history and culture," the humanities council said in announcing the award.
"I'm just so impressed with the way Howard has taken his work in sociology and folklore and American studies and not only shared it with the community in Knox County but used his knowledge to the benefit of the community, " said Patricia Williamsen, the council's director of development. Sacks, she said, has helped Knox County shape its future through sustainability initiatives.
"The humanities," Sacks said, "help us understand what's important in life. They document and celebrate our achievements, point out what we have in common, and inform us about the character of a life well-lived. The humanities must inform our public dialogue, particularly in times of dramatic social change." Sacks praised Kenyon's role for supporting the public humanities as a model of "college-community collaboration."
Sacks has worked with the support of the Ohio Humanities Council on projects including "Life Along the Kokosing," a multi-media project that explored the impact of the Kokosing River on the community around it, and on the Oral History Institute. The annual Oral History Institute, designed to teach community members how to conduct public oral history projects, is "recognized across the nation," Williamsen said.
Sacks is the co-author of Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History, which will be published in 2009.
"We hear people say that Howard can explain things in a way that no one else can," Williamsen added. "He can be eloquent and accessible at the same time."
The Ohio Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit organization funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and private contributions. The council awards grants and presents its own cultural programs across the state.