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Revered History Professor Emeritus Glenn Linden dies

Devoted career to his twin passions — history and history education

June 29, 2012

SMU History Professor Emeritus Glenn Linden died June 25, 2012, in Bellevue, Washington. Linden retired from SMU in 2010 after a 42-year career devoted to his twin passions, history and history education.

With three degrees from the University of Washington, Linden began his SMU career as a faculty member in both history and education, later serving as chair of both departments – the Department of History from 1972-75 and the former Department of Education from 1975-78.

He combined both interests in his work with the American Historical Association on the History Education Project, his contributions to history textbooks and his many professional papers on the training of teachers and the teaching of history. He served on state boards and American Historical Association committees to promote excellence in teaching.

As a scholar, Linden’s contributions to historic research and writing on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction era and Dallas school desegregation have influenced scholars, educators and policy makers for 30 years. He is the author of numerous papers and several books, including Politics or Principle: Congressional Voting on the Civil War Amendments and Pro-Negro Measures and Desegregating the Dallas Schools: Four Decades in the Federal Courts.

Linden’s scholarly influence extended well beyond the campus community, says James Hopkins, Altshuler Distinguished Professor and former chair of SMU’s Clements Department of History.

“Among many projects, Glenn played a major role in interpreting and helping bring to a conclusion the long battle for desegregation in Dallas Schools,” Hopkins says. “His book, Desegregating Schools in Dallas: Four Decades in the Federal Courts, became required reading for generations of Dallas leaders. In the long history of SMU, few faculty members have meant as much to the University and the city as did Glenn Linden."

Throughout his career at SMU, students honored Linden with every teaching award SMU offers. He received SMU’s “M” Award, the Willis M. Tate Award and the Outstanding Faculty Award. He received the Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence Award so many times he received an award for that. As one of the founders of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, an annual spring break trip through cities important to the civil rights movement, Linden created a legacy that continues today.

Rev. Michael Waters ’02,’06, ’12, who helped develop the pilgrimage and is now senior pastor of Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Dallas, counted Linden as a mentor.

“Receiving a B-minus on my first assignment from Dr. Linden my first year at SMU was one of the greatest things that has ever happened in my life,” Waters says. “I stayed after class to inquire why I received such a low grade for such ‘superior’ work. Dr. Linden informed me that while it was ‘A’ work, it was not ‘A’ work for me. He said that in light of my contributions to class discussions, he knew that I could give more. He also said, ‘History is not just a bunch of damn facts. It's peoples’ lives and what we can gain from them.’

“Not only did Dr. Linden's insights give me a new appreciation for history, a subject I already loved, but the desire to improve my grade forced me to find a study partner. Her name was Yulise. I made an A-minus on my next assignment. I married Yulise six years later.”

As a devoted colleague to his fellow faculty members, Linden served for 20 years as president of the SMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

“He was tireless in defending faculty rights, the necessity of tenure and academic freedom,” says Kathleen Wellman, professor and chair of the Clements Department of History. “He was dogged in pursuing what he saw as the best interests of not just the faculty, but also SMU as a university.”

Because of Linden’s unique contributions, he was the first and, to date, only recipient of SMU’s Distinguished University Service Professor award.

“Glenn was so student-oriented and other-faculty-oriented, he could always be counted on to be in the middle of things, from Mustang Corral and scholarship interviews to Faculty Senate and the American Association of University Professors,” says Tom Tunks, professor of music, who, as interim provost, created the service award. “Every university needs a few Glenn Lindens in order to maintain warmth and caring along with its pursuit of academic excellence.”

Linden’s legacy of excellence, both in academia and in building better communities, will be remembered at SMU through the Glenn Linden Professorship in History, a Civil War history professorship established in his honor at his retirement.

Linden is survived by his son, Evan E. Linden of O’Fallon, Missouri; his brother Gary F. Linden of Bellevue, Washington; four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Contributions in his honor may be made to The Cedars Camps, 19772 Sugar Drive, Lebanon, MO 65536 ( or the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage Program, SMU, Gift Administration, P.O. Box 750402, Dallas TX 75725-0402.