Professor Rod Camp Receiving Honorary Degree for Scholarship on Mexico

Roderic Ai Camp, CMC’s Philip M. McKenna Professor of the Pacfic Rim, will receive an honorary degree from St. Olaf College during ceremonies on Thursday, Oct. 15. Camp will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters for his work as a scholar and teacher on Mexico.

“By recognizing him, we are reaffirming that a teacher at a liberal arts college can make a major contribution to an area of specialization, that a scholar devoted to interdisciplinary work can be recognized internationally for expertise developed over decades, and that a professor can both greatly value teaching and contribute significantly in the public sphere,” says Leon Narvaez, a professor of Spanish at St. Olaf, who met Camp, originally, during an annual conference for the North Central Council of Latin Americanists.

Camp, who will travel to Minnesota to receive the degree, will give three presentations during his visit including a talk on the importance of liberal arts to higher education, and his current research on Mexico. He says he was “astonished” when he was contacted by St. Olaf’s president about the honorary degree.

“Typically, colleges give honorary degrees to people other than academics, for some other kind of accomplishment,” said Camp. “So this isn’t something I ever dreamed of. It was very much a surprise. I consider it a supreme honor to have an institution nominate you and honor you, and invite you to campus.”

Celebrating its 30th anniversary of Hispanic Studies this academic year, “it is fitting to bring to campus the most distinguished expert on Mexico in the United States,” Narvaez says. “Professor Camp has had an exceptional career as a scholar and teacher devoted to exploring and understanding aspects of Mexican politics and society.”

Camp is the author of more than 120 referred scholarly articles and essays and 29 books, including two novels and Politics in Mexico. His publications reflect an interdisciplinary body of work that, Narvaez says, covers Mexican intellectual life, religion and politics, civil-military relations, the private sector, public opinion, democratic values, socialization, elites and elite recruitment.

In addition to being a frequent media expert on issues of Mexico and Mexican politics, Camp has spoken to the incoming members of Mexico’s Congress on the subject of democracy and has interviewed eight presidents of Mexico. The format of his biographical work on Mexican political leadership was used for the official directories of the Office of the Presidency of Mexico, and the official biographies of Mexican Supreme Court justices who have served from 1917-89 are based, in part, on Camp’s work.

Among the Minnesota college’s other reasons for honoring the CMC professor on Oct. 15: Camp has briefed five of the last six U.S. ambassadors to Mexico for the U.S. Department of State, and has made presentations about topics related to Mexico at more than 100 non-governmental agencies, human rights organizations, governmental agencies, and universities in a number of countries, Narvaez says.

Camp began his teaching career as a professor at Central College of Iowa, then went on to Tulane University before joining the faculty at Claremont McKenna 11 years ago.

“Not only have colleagues and students learned from him in his areas of expertise, but they also have been inspired by what a professor at a liberal arts college is capable of accomplishing,” Narvaez adds. “He enjoys serving as a mentor for students and younger colleagues, and through the decades he has been a model for those who value a liberal education.”