Emory Report
June 12, 2006
Volume 58, Number 32


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June 12 , 2006
Humanities leader Matthews honored by governor

by Christi Gray

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue presented one of Emory’s own with a 2006 Governor’s Award in the Humanities on May 11 at the Old Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta.

Recognized for “creative leadership and careful stewardship that has expanded Emory’s [library] collections and made the university a national and international destination for humanities researchers,” Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Linda Matthews was one of 11 Georgians who received the annual award.

The awardees are nominated by the public, reviewed by a committee of the Georgia Humanities Council Board and ultimately approved by the governor. “These individuals go above and beyond in their efforts to build a sense of community, character and citizenship in our state,” said President of the Georgia Humanities Council Jamil Zainaldin. “Linda is a perfect example of the type of citizen we seek out for these awards.”

With a library degree from Emory and a Ph.D. in history from Duke, Matthews, who is retiring in August, has spent 35 years as a professional at Emory, moving her way up the University library ranks. She started in what was then called Special Collections, becoming director of that department before assuming her current position in 2003.

In addition to her work at Emory, Matthews is a founding member of the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. Its members appointed by the governor, the board works to improve awareness, access and preservation of Georgia historical records. Matthews helped to develop its first long-range strategic plan and obtain more than $500,000 for a grants program for local historical societies and government agencies. In 1992, she was named a fellow of the Society of American Archivists, the organization’s single most prestigious award, and recently received an arts and sciences distinguished alumni award from Emory.

“Dr. Matthews has worked diligently to sustain the unique character of Georgia,” Perdue said. “I commend all the winners for their hard work in promoting the humanities in Georgia and around the nation.”

Nominated by several colleagues, Matthews was stunned she had been chosen for the Governor’s Award. “First, reading the letter quickly, I didn’t realize I had been selected—I thought the letter was just telling me about the upcoming program and hoping I’d attend,” she said. “[Then] I called the director of the Georgia Humanities Council to make certain the letter had not gone to the wrong person.”

The ceremony and event reminded Matthews of the power of community and the individual in making good things happen. “It was an honor to be among the diverse and dedicated group of individuals, from every conceivable area of the humanities,” she said. “I encourage individuals who have the opportunity to become involved in their professional work or in community organizations to further recognition of the humanities as critical elements of our lives and our cultural. The humanities, in all of the many and diverse elements that make up that term, give us our soul.”