Scott Radnitz sends along the following sad news:
Herb Ellison died on October 9. He taught at the University of Washington for over 30 years and played a major role in promoting scholarship and training in Soviet and Russian studies in the U.S.
On a personal note, I want to add that although I never met Herb in person, he and I once shared an hour together as guests of Seattle NPR in the aftermath of the Beslan tragedy in Russia early in my academic career. Although he had many, many more years of experience in all matters Russia under his belt than I did, he never once acted as if I was anything other than a peer throughout the show. I had always wanted to thank him in person for this, but unfortunately never got the chance and am saddened to know now that I never will.
Update: Some additional thoughts from Steve Hanson, the Vice Provost for International Affairs at William & Mary, and a longtime colleague of Herb’s at the University of Washington:
As Herb’s colleague at the UW for two decades, I was also a direct beneficiary of his deep passion for Russian studies, his love of spirited debate, and his boundless energy for building institutions that would provide support for the next generation of scholars in our field. He was a key player in establishing and/or promoting many of the organizations that helped scholars both in the US and in the former Soviet Union advance their careers in Soviet and post-Soviet studies, including IREX, ACTR/ACCELS, the Kennan Institute (which he briefly directed), and CIEE. At the UW, Herb directed both the REEU/REECAS Program and the Jackson School of International Studies as a whole. Herb was a legendary teacher who inspired countless students to pursue careers in the field. And on top of all this, he remained an active researcher until nearly the very end, completing his excellent biography of Yeltsin from the University of Washington Press when he was already in his 70s.
It will always be one of the greatest pleasures of my career to have had the opportunity to honor Herb with the founding of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies in 2004. I am so glad that we recognized Herb’s contributions in this way while he was still in a position to appreciate it.