Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Teófilo F. Ruiz receives the 2023-24 UCLA Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award

Published: June 24, 2024

Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Teófilo “Teo” F. Ruiz has received the UCLA Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award, honoring outstanding research, teaching, scholarly work, and service performed by an Emeritus professor since retirement.

Ruiz was a Distinguished Research Professor of History and of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA until his retirement in 2019. He also taught History at Brooklyn College and History and Spanish Medieval Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. Among many other visiting appointments, he was a Visiting Professor at Princeton University and a Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. Professor at Michigan State University.

During his career at UCLA, Ruiz served as Faculty Director of the International Education Office and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He specializes in the history of medieval and early modern Iberia and the Mediterranean, and he has authored or co-authored 15 books and more than 100 research articles.

In 2011, President Obama awarded Ruiz the National Humanities Medal for his “inspired teaching and writing,” which is one of his many notable achievements. He was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences two years later. In 2021, he received the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction, the highest award given by the AHA.

In retirement, Ruiz continues to teach undergraduate courses, serve on doctoral dissertation committees, and teach dozens of students in the Summer Travel Abroad Program in Paris. He also continues leading UCLA Alumni Travel Tours to varied locales, such as the Amalfi Coast, Provence, Iceland, Cuba, and Morocco; he just recently returned from leading a group along the Danube River.

He has also published over 15 new articles, three of which are forthcoming, and an upcoming book, Walking in the City: Paris and la Habana (a memoir). Simultaneously with research and writing, he has also taught over 70 Fiat Lux courses since the program was created and has volunteered to continue.

Since 1989, Ruiz has actively participated in CMRS Center for Early Global Studies (CMRS-CEGS) activities, including lecturing at conferences and attending California Medieval Seminars. He has continued to be a dedicated advocate for the Center’s research and study of the Middle Ages by sponsoring and participating in countless workshops, lectures, seminars, and conferences. He has published more than four articles based solely on work with the Center; one will appear in Viator, and another will be published by Professor Thomas Barton as the outcome of his 2023 conference, The Western Mediterranean and the Global Middle Ages.

In Professor Ruiz’s words, his entire career “is all serendipity!” He had planned to become a primary school teacher, but when he met with an advisor to obtain his credentials, he was told to get a Ph.D. instead, where his Cuban accent would not matter. Now, when asked, “What do you do?” his answer is simple.

“I am a teacher first and foremost – and when I write and publish, it is secondary to being in the classroom.”

Please join us in congratulating Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Teo Ruiz on his well-deserved UCLA Dickson Emeritus Professorship award.