Remembering Ernest May
June 5, 2009
ERNEST MAY Fellowships
The Belfer Center has established the Ernest May Fellowships in memory of Ernest May. For fellowship information, see here.
June 5th, 2009
By Belfer Center
Ernest May, Charles Warren Professor of American History, a member of the Belfer Center's board of directors, and a faculty affiliate of the Center's International Security Program, passed away on Monday, June 1, 2009. Colleagues, students, friends, and family members offer their remembrances.
"‘No other historian of recent memory has so successfully bridged the chasm between history and public policy,' Professor Allison said."
"Ernest was widely recognized as the leading international historian in the country," says Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Belfer Center. "No historian in recent memory so successfully bridged the chasm between history and public policy. Ernest demonstrated that the best source of insight into current policy choices is to be found in a sound analysis of history. It is hard to visualize Harvard without him."
For more, go to: http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2009/06.04/may.html
"There are a small number of people at Harvard who really step up through genuine belief in the institution and the people in it, and Ernest May was one of them," said Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood.
For more, go to: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528446
"Although I didn't meet Ernie until the early 1980s, his work shaped my own intellectual development from the very beginning. I read his book "Lessons of the Past: The Use and Abuse of History in American Foreign Policy" in one of the first IR courses I ever took, and its central message - about the ways that historical interpretations shape (and more often, distort) policymaking - has resonated with me ever since."
For more, go to: http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/03/a_gentleman_and_a_scholar
SUSAN WOOD and PHILIP ZELIKOW
"He was first and foremost a teacher, and if he was asked by somebody, ‘What do you do?' he would say, ‘I'm a teacher,'" said his wife, Susan B. Wood. "He taught for 55 years at Harvard, and that is something you only do if you love teaching."
"To borrow Theodore Roosevelt's old phrase, Ernest was someone who spoke softly, yet carried a big mind," said [Philip] Zelikow, [coauthor with Dr. May of "The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis."] "He would invariably let others do most of the talking while he ended up doing most of the thinking."
For a personal reflection by Ernest May's student Vivek Viswanathan, see http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/19556/professor_ernest_may.html
On September 24, 2009, the Belfer Center hosted a seminar to discuss Ernest May's unique ability to serve as a bridge between history and policy. During the seminar, "Reflections on Ernest May: A Rare Bridge Between History and Policy," a number of May's colleagues, students, friends, and family members reflected on Ernest (Ernie) May, the man, and on his "extraordinary" contributions. For more about this event, see: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/19580/
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
For Academic Citation: