The Department of History and Art History is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sam Collins as the Robert T. Hawkes Associate Professor of History and Art History. This endowed position was established in honor of Dr. Hawkes, who taught U.S. history at George Mason University for thirty-seven years before his retirement in 2006. Bob was an extraordinarily dedicated and gifted teacher whose commitment to undergraduate students and their long-term intellectual development positively affected the lives of countless individuals during their time at the University and well beyond.
Sam Collins succeeds Benedict Carton and the late Marion Deshmukh as the third holder of the Hawkes Professorship. Like Bob himself as well as Marion Deshmukh and Ben Carton, Sam is a very popular teacher. As a specialist in early medieval western Europe, particularly its ecclesiastical architecture, he has developed a comprehensive curriculum in medieval history over the years. That a significant proportion of students in any given medieval history course has already taken at least one other course—and frequently two or three—with him, stands as a testament to Dr. Collins’ acumen and efficacy in the classroom. At the heart of his pedagogy is what Dr. Collins has described as “encounters between texts and minds”—that is, the collective endeavor of reading and discussing primary sources closely, carefully, and with curiosity and thoughtfulness. During his tenure as the Hawkes Professor, Dr. Collins plans on developing a course entitled “The Social Meaning of Medieval Architecture” in which students will combine intensive study of medieval architectural practices in the classroom with a series of field-trips, made possible by the Hawkes Professorship, to sites and structures (located both in Washington, DC and further afield in New York City) which have been influenced by or make reference to medieval antecedents.
The care and consideration with which Sam Collins approaches his teaching is readily apparent in his students’ intellectual growth, academic achievement, and love of life-long learning. His appointment to the Professorship will help to ensure that the spirit and ethos of our cherished and esteemed colleague, Bob Hawkes, will be shared and carried forward for generations to come.
October 12, 2020