18:00 PM

Three faculty named Distinguished University Professors

An influential disability lawyer, a distinguished classics scholar, and a pioneering economic historian received The Ohio State University's highest faculty honor at the university's Board of Trustees' meeting on Friday (6/5).

The title of Distinguished University Professor was conferred by trustees on Ruth Colker, holder of The Heck-Faust Memorial Chair in Constitutional Law in the Moritz College of Law; Fritz Graf, professor and chair of the Department of Greek and Latin, and Richard H. Steckel, professor of economics, history and anthropology.

The recipients will each receive a one-time cash award of $30,000 from the Office of Academic Affairs to support their academic work and will become members of the President's and Provost's Advisory Council.

Colker, the first member of the law faculty to receive this award, is credited with establishing the field of disability legal studies, authoring the first comprehensive casebook on the subject. Her article documenting the shortcomings of the Americans with Disabilities Act led to significant amendments to the law in 2008, and her research has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. She is the author of seven books, more than 50 articles in prestigious law journals and has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio, commenting on disability and constitutional law topics.

Colker was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice before becoming a law professor in 1985, serving on the law faculties of George Washington University, the University of Toronto, Tulane University, and the University of Pittsburgh before joining the Moritz College of Law in 1997. She holds A.B. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University.

Graf , who joined the university faculty in 2002, is director of the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies within the Department of Greek and Latin as well as department chair. He is considered one of the top five classicists in the world and a leading theorist in the history of early Mediterranean religions, having published numerous books, essays and journal articles on Greek and Roman religion, magic and mythology, ancient epigraphy and Latin literature. He is a frequent presenter at national and international symposia and conferences and is an active participant in his field's professional societies.

He held faculty positions at the University of Zurich, where he earned his doctorate, and Basel University in Switzerland and at Princeton University before coming to Ohio State.

Steckel has done ground-breaking research into the relationship of height to economic health and welfare, basically creating a new, interdisciplinary field that spans economics, history, demography and physical anthropology. His work on the study of human growth includes National Science Foundation projects on several continents. His 1986 paper entitled "A Peculiar Population," focusing on the links between the growth patterns and nutrition of slaves and the economics of slavery remains one of the most widely cited works ever published by The Journal of Economic History. He has written or co-written four books, with another in preparation, and more than 100 articles in professional journals.

Steckel received his master's degree in economics and mathematics from the University of Oklahoma and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He joined Ohio State's faculty in 1974.