History professor Peter Kenez honored with top UC award for emeriti faculty

Peter Kenez
UC Santa Cruz professor emeritus of history Peter Kenez

The 2016 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, honoring emeriti professors in the University of California system, has been awarded to UC Santa Cruz professor emeritus of history Peter Kenez.

The award, which pays tribute to the post-retirement contributions of UC faculty, was presented this year to both Kenez and Isao Fujimoto, professor emeritus of Asian American studies at UC Davis, the 36th and 37th Panunzio awards since the program began in 1983. Kenez's award is the eighth for a retired UC Santa Cruz professor, more than any other UC.

The selection committee noted that the two professors each had “especially long and notable records of research, teaching and service to the University of California, their disciplines, and their community.”

The Panunzio awards are named for the late professor of sociology at UCLA, often described as the architect of the UC Retirement System. He was particularly active in improving pensions and stipends for his fellow emeriti. The award honors research and activities since retirement and includes a $5,000 prize.

A founding faculty member of Stevenson College at UC Santa Cruz, Kenez is a native of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has been teaching Russian and modern European history at UCSC since 1966. He retired in 2011.

The committee noted that since Kenez’s retirement, “his contributions to education in the Jewish Studies program at UCSC (which he co-founded), among others has been exceptional. While serving on recall and as a leave replacement, Professor Kenez taught several classes on Russian and Soviet history for the university, as well as a seminar on Stalin and Hitler for the History Department. His service and international invitations and his scholarship have continued with no diminution of achievement.”

Kenez recently wrote the highly acclaimed book The Coming of the Holocaust: From From Antisemitism to Genocide (2013) and is currently working on a new book, The Gloomy Years of Communism: Hungary 1948-1956.

Previous UC Santa Cruz winners are: Hayden White, history of consciousness, 2001; G. William Domhoff, psychology, 2007; Thomas Pettigrew, psychology, 2009; Harry Berger Jr., literature, 2010; Elliot Aronson, psychology, 2011; Michael Nauenberg, physics, 2013; and Pavel Machotka, psychology, 2015.