Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Council

Remarks by Tim Classen, Concerning 2018 Award Winner


It has been a wonderful afternoon to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of faculty, hear from university leaders, and welcome new members to the Loyola community on this beautiful Sunday. To wrap up the formal part of our program, I am honored to present this year's award for Loyola's Faculty Member of the Year on behalf of Faculty Council.

The Faculty Council's service committee, chaired by James Conley from universities libraries, is tasked annually with reviewing and selecting the Faculty Member of the Year from a pool of incredibly accomplished faculty nominees. I have been involved in these reviews for several years and it is always a fascinating opportunity to review the exceptional credentials of faculty nominated for this award. It is my great privilege to introduce this year's winner of Loyola's Faculty Member of the Year, Dr. Timothy Gilfoyle, Professor of History. 

As we progressed with our deliberations this year, Tim stood out for his exceptional contributions to the Loyola community through teaching, research, and service. His books on the urban areas of New York City and Chicago, service to the profession through conference planning and other duties, and famous Midnight Bike Tour of Historical Chicago to help students understand urban history all reflect his devotion to life as a professor.

In a letter of support for his nomination, it was stated that "Tim represents in every way the Loyola ideal of a teacher/scholar dedicated to the instruction and care of his students, the advancement of his field, and service to his department, university, and the academy". A review of his CV, books, publications and work with students made that apparent to our committee.

Tim Gilfoyle majored in Urban Studies as an undergraduate at Columbia University and went on to complete Masters and Doctorate degrees at Columbia in American History and Urban Planning. Two years later after completing his Ph.D., he joined the department of history at Loyola which has served as his academic home for nearly three decades. 

During that time, his research has led to him becoming an internationally recognized scholar in the history of urban areas.

Since my own research studies sensitive topics such as suicide and drug overdoses, I was pleased to see Tim lauded in the acknowledgments of a book for "his prodigious research on prostitution." In fact, his doctoral dissertation which was awarded the Allan Nevins Prize for the best-written doctoral dissertation on a significant subject in American history led to his first book City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790---1920. One of his letter writers highlighted this as "scholarship that tries to explore and interpret the lives of people who had been ignored by previous generations." Another acknowledgment in a book written by an alumnus of the history department stated "Gilfoyle is perhaps the most prompt and thorough scholar that I have ever encountered." This was again reflected in his book A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York which was named the book of the year by the Urban History Association and the New York State Historical Association. Tim's work has also been recognized with a Guggenheim Foundation Award, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and a Newton Minnow Foundation grant. 

Tim has also provided exceptional service to his department and field in his work as department chair, on more than 10 faculty search committees, as book review editor for the Journal of Urban History for 20 years, and co-editor of the Historical Studies in Urban America Series for the University of Chicago Press. His service to the profession also includes being a great host. In his role as president of the Urban History Association, Tim organized a substantial conference with more than 700 attendees two years ago here at the Lakeshore campus. He was lauded on Twitter for knowing how to throw a great reception following a gathering at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Appropriately enough, one of Tim's books was about the building of that incredible addition to Chicago's front yard. 

Finally, Tim's devotion to his students is apparent with his frequent recognition as a top teacher in the history department. He has supervised more than 15 doctoral dissertations, prepped 10 different undergraduate courses, and taught thousands of students in the survey class of U.S. history. His statement of philosophy towards teaching students resonated strongly with me, especially in our current, confusing time: "I have multiple goals as a historian: to immerse students in complexity of the past, to foster empathy in worlds foreign to them by the passage of time, to provide an intellectual framework with which they can better understand the world in which they live, and to comprehend some of the confusion that surrounds them...The historian is obligated to remind students that history is an exercise in learning how to live, not just how to make a living."

In summary, I am exceptionally gratified to be able to present Loyola's 2018 Faculty Member of the Year Award on behalf of Faculty Council to Professor Tim Gilfoyle. We will now hear brief remarks from him and present him with a plaque to acknowledge this achievement. So, please join me in congratulating Tim Gilfoyle as this year's recipient of Loyola's Faculty Member of the Year.