The Constantine Panunzio Award recognizes outstanding UC faculty in the humanities or social sciences for research and scholarly activities since retirement. Since its inception in 1983, there have been 28 honorees. The 2011 Panunzio award recognizes two distinguished emeritus professors, J Hillis Miller of UC Irvine, and Elliot Aronson of UC Santa Cruz.
Elliot Aronson is an eminent social psychologist whose contributions to the field of human behavior have explored the theory of cognitive dissonance and the causes of interpersonal attraction. His research has always addressed important social problems, including prejudice reduction, energy conservation, and AIDS prevention. His textbook, The Social Animal, first published in 1972 and now in its 10th edition, remains among the most popular texts in social psychology. He devised “The Jigsaw Classroom” which is now a remarkably effective learning technique widely used in schools.
Following academic appointments at Harvard, Minnesota and Texas Universities, Aronson joined UC Santa Cruz in 1974 where he taught until his retirement in 1994. In the 17 years since his retirement from UCSC he has published numerous articles and books, including the critically acclaimed Not By Chance Alone, My Life as a Social Psychologist (Basic Books, 2010) and Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) (Harcourt, 2007) with co-author Carol Tavris. He also wrote a children’s book The Adventures of Ruthie and a Little Boy Named Grandpa with his six-year-old granddaughter Ruth Aronson.
Aronson was named one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century (Review of General Psychology) and was recognized by the Association for Psychological Science with a lifetime achievement award.
His achievements that earned him the Panunzio Award are all the more amazing because he has progressively lost his sight from macular degeneration. Yet he continues to write using voice recognition software.
J. Hillis Miller is renowned worldwide for his many contributions to critical theory and literature. He held professorial appointments at both John Hopkins and Yale Universities Miller before joining the faculty at UC Irvine in 1986. After many productive years at UCI, he formally retired in 2002 and currently holds the emeritus title Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature and English at UCI. Since his retirement he has published seven books and 60 articles. He continues to be in high demand internationally as a lecturer and annually delivers a week long “mini-seminar” at UCI on critical theory emphasis. He has been called “the most significant North American literary critic of the 20th century. The Modern Language Association recognized him with a life-time achievement award in 2005.
Miller’s early interests were evidently in the sciences because he began college life (at Oberlin) as a physics major. However, he made the switch to English by his sophomore year. Miller explains it as “My abiding fascination with what seemed to me, and still seems, the strangeness of the way literary works use language.” One of his recent books Literature as Conduct: Speech Acts in Henry James (Fordam, 2005) seems to speak to this.
About the Panunzio Award, Miller said “It is one of the greatest honors I have received. Part of the pleasure of receiving the Panunzio Award is that I have been rewarded for doing what I most like to do and would have done in any case: teach and write about literature.”