Tributes to UCSD Faculty Leader
Don Tuzin Follow his April 15 Death

April 18, 2007

By Pat JaCoby

Donald F. Tuzin

Donald Francis Tuzin, 62, professor of anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, and former chair of the campus Academic Senate, died April 15 at Thornton Hospital of pulmonary hypertension.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox noted that “Don was a valued faculty member and leader of the UCSD community and his contributions, both in and out of the classroom, touched many.

“In spite of the many demands placed on him as scholar and teacher, Don was never too busy to consult and advise on various campus projects and issues. He served on the board of directors of the UCSD Faculty Club, was a member of the University House Task Force and the Friends of the UCSD Libraries Board of Directors.” During UC President Emeritus Richard Atkinson’s tenure as UCSD Chancellor, Tuzin served as associate chancellor, 1990-1993.

Born in Chicago, Ill., Tuzin graduated from Western Reserve University, received his master’s degree at Case-Western Reserve, and his Ph.D. in anthropology from the Australian National University, Research School of Pacific Studies. He joined the UC San Diego Department of Anthropology in 1973.

As a social anthropologist, Tuzin was one of the world’s top authorities on Melanesian culture, and was co-founder and honorary curator of UCSD’s Melanesian Archive, the world’s leading depository of unpublished materials on the societies and cultures of Melanesia.

The author of four books and many articles, Tuzin’s interests ranged across aspects of social and ritual organization, sexuality and gender, sensory experiences, art, epistemology, and the history of anthropology.

Margaret J. Schoeninger, professor and Anthropology chair, said “Don was the recognized leader in our department, having achieved the highest rank within UC. As Distinguished Professor, he led with unparalleled grace, humor and breadth of knowledge. As a mentor to students, colleagues and to me as department chair, Don was unsurpassed. This loss will be felt within Anthropology, across UCSD, and across UC for many years to come.”

Joel Robbins, associate professor of Anthropology, noted that “Don was one of those rare individuals who combined a great sense of intellectual purpose with genuine human warmth. Internationally, he was known as one of the handful of leading Melanesianist anthropologists of his generation; a major thinker whose worked touched everyone in the field. At UCSD, he was a leader in the Anthropology Department and well beyond. As he often said, he believed that UCSD was the most exciting university in the world, and he gave his heart and time to it accordingly. That he could be a mentor, a teacher, a role model and also a treasured friend speaks volumes about what a unique and wonderful person he was.”

Kathy Creely,  Melanesian Studies Librarian, UCSD Libraries, said that “the Archive could not exist without Don’s contributions—intellectual and personal. His vision for building the collection, his intellectual curiosity, his wonderful relations with colleagues internationally in the field of Melanesian anthropology, and above all, his own kindness, courtesy and humor were all essential ingredients in our endeavor. Don cared deeply about the people of Papua, New Guinea, and in his last year expressed a sentimental regret that he could never again return. In the few days since his death we have received messages from friends, colleagues and former students scattered from Norway to New Guinea.”

Survivors include his wife, Beverly Jay Tuzin, and sons, Gregory Francis Tuzin and Alexander Hilary Tuzin.

Services will be held Saturday at El Camino Memorial Park, with visitation at 10 a.m. and services at 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Donald F. Tuzin Memorial Fund at UCSD, Fund 4494, c/o Kae Knight, Anthropology Department, or to Chimp Haven, 3600 Chimpanzee Place, P.O. Box 36004, Shreveport, LA, 71130-6004.


Media Contact: Pat JaCoby, 858-534-7404

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