Former U.S. Ambassador Eric Benjaminson will visit HWS and attend classes in history, political science and French and Francophone studies during the week of March 3 to 7, as a Melvin Hill Visiting Professor in the Humanities. Prior to his retirement last summer, Benjaminson was U.S. Ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe in Africa.
On Monday, March 3, Benjaminson will introduce and discuss a film satirizing French colonial rule, “Black and White in Color.” The event takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in Coxe 8.
On Thursday, March 6, he will give a public lecture titled, “A 21st Century African Transition: Gabon as a Case Study of the Unanticipated Frictions of Democratization.” The talk will take place in the Geneva Room from 7:30 – 9 p.m.
With 32 years of experience as an American diplomat, Benjaminson has specialized in economic and African affairs. He earned a B.A. in history from the University of Oregon and joined the Foreign Service in 1982, with which he has held a variety of positions. His first assignment was as the economic officer in the State Department’s Office of Southern African Affairs in Washington. Prior to becoming U.S. Ambassador, he served in Canada, Nigeria, Beijing, Sweden, Belgium, Namibia, and Burkina Faso.
Benjaminson has been a special lecturer on African and development issues at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in California, at the University of Southern California, at Carleton University in Ottawa and at the University of Ottawa. Most recently, he was appointed the first executive director of the Gabon Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development, funded by the government of Gabon and based at the University of Oregon. As such, he works closely with faculty and students at University of Oregon to develop research, training and outreach projects that address sustainable development in Gabon. Through the statewide Oregon African Studies Consortium, Benjaminson also works to establish partnerships with colleagues from Oregon State University, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland State University, and Willamette University.
Named for Melvin Hill, a greatly respected English professor at the Colleges, the Visiting Professorship was started in 1973 to foster the exchange of ideas on campus with scholars and teachers from other institutions. The initial purpose was to expose students and faculty members to a variety of viewpoints within the humanities; to share research, methodologies, and ideas across the campus; and to interact with recognized scholars in the field.
This semester, the endowment will support seven week-long visiting professors in various disciplines in the humanities. While on campus, they will visit and interact with students and faculty in different departments and give a campus talk or presentation to the community.
Benjaminson’s visit is sponsored by the Media and Society Department. The events are free and open to the public.