Clifton Hood, the George E. Paulsen ’49 Professor of American History and Government, was recently named to the Board of Trustees of Western Reserve Academy, a residential co-ed boarding school in Hudson, Ohio. For Hood, a 1972 WRA alumnus, this new role is “very meaningful personally,” as his time at WRA was “a launching pad” into his academic career.
“I had a great grounding in academics,” he says. “As a senior I took classes with a first-year teacher who was the first professionally trained historian I ever encountered. It really made a big difference, and the older I get the more grateful I am.”
Like HWS, Hood says, WRA is a “selective and aspirational institution located in the Rust Belt” that face similar questions: “how can you ensure you’re able to recruit students of the highest quality? WRA is trying in some ways to assay a national presence and draw from Chicago and Washington, D.C., and assess what’s going to interest parents and students from outside Ohio.”
Joining two-dozen other board members in developing everything from the curriculum to the school’s national image, Hood looks forward to the “chance to see what goes on at a high school level, what’s it like for students at a high school level to learn, what problems they’re having, and how I can make a difference.”
Hood — who is currently completing his most recent book, “In Pursuit of Privilege: The Upper Class and the Making of New York City, since 1753,” which is dedicated in part to one of his teachers at WRA — adds that “it’s exciting to think that I can have a role and apply my knowledge of New York City and other places. This is one of the things I like about being an academic — there are so many different trajectories that allow you to chart your own course and take advantage of opportunities that are new and exciting.”
A member of the HWS faculty since 1992, Hood holds a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Washington University and a master’s and doctorate from Columbia University. His main fields of study include elites, New York City, historical memory, and mass transit. He is the author of “722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How they Transformed New York.” His courses focus on American urban history, elites in America, U.S. environmental history and U.S. ethnicity and immigration. He served previously as senior Fulbright Lecturer in Seoul National University in Korea.