FSU'S DONALD HORWARD, A LEADING NAPOLEONIC SCHOLAR, IS SET TO RETIRE

by Barry Ray, June 2005

Professeur Donald Horward

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. He has devoted the bulk of
his career to the study of one of the great
figures in history - and in so doing, has made
history himself. Now, after 44 years, dozens of
books and articles written or co-written,
thousands of students taught, and numerous honors
received, world-renowned Florida State University
history professor Donald D. Horward is retiring
from FSU.

"It's been an extraordinary career," said
Horward, who holds the university's Ben Weider
Eminent Scholar Chair in Napoleonic History and
is director of its Institute on Napoleon and the
French Revolution. "I've taught some 16,000
students here. It's been great to work with the
students and to be honored with various awards."

Almost single-handedly, Horward has put FSU on
the map as the pre-eminent university in the
nation for the study of the French Revolution and
Napoleonic history. When he came to FSU in 1961,
Horward said, the school's library held fewer
than 200 books on the French Revolution and on
Napoleon Bonaparte, the masterful French general
and emperor who died in 1821. Over the years,
Horward has transformed the collection into one
of the most extensive in the United States, with
almost 20,000 different titles now housed in the
Napoleon and the French Revolution Collection at
FSU's Strozier Library. "When scholars from
throughout the world want to do research on this
era, they come to FSU," he said.

With Horward as its chief backer, the Institute
on Napoleon and the French Revolution was
formally established at FSU in 1990. Since then,
it has generated almost twice as many Ph.D.s in
the field as has the next closest university.

"Ours is without a doubt the strongest Napoleonic
program in the United States," said Joseph
Travis, interim dean of FSU's College of Arts and
Sciences. "And that is thanks in large part to
the work of Donald Horward."
So what is it about Napoleon, a figure who has
been dead for nearly two centuries, that so
captivates Horward and his students?

  "His footprint is gigantic. He changed warfare.
The warfare we see today in Iraq is what Napoleon
developed," he said. "Students at the U.S.
military academies still study Napoleon's
military strategies."

In addition to his military exploits, Napoleon
helped shape the modern world in myriad other
ways, Horward said. "He was a brilliant
politician and administrator. The Code of
Napoleon (legal system), our modern educational
system, transportation, social services - all of
these were innovations established by Napoleon
that have had a dramatic effect on the world we
live in. This was not just a conqueror; this was
a guy who understood life."

Horward's own career has been full of honors and
accomplishments. He has received seven
university-wide awards from FSU, including its
first Distinguished Teaching Award, given in
1990; three Excellence in teaching awards, in
1988, 1994 and 1997; and its first Outstanding
Graduate Faculty Mentor Award, in 2005. He also
has held 15 academic chairs at American
universities; has given more than 220 papers and
speeches at various universities and scholarly
societies in the United States, France, England,
Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium,
Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and
Iran; has written, co-authored or contributed to
30 volumes and had more than 50 articles
published in academic journals; and co-founded
and served as a director of the Consortium on
Revolutionary Europe, the leading scholarly
society in his field, for 35 years. He also has
directed a record number of master's theses and
doctoral dissertations - 97 - with several more
awaiting completions this summer.

Though he has been decorated by the president of
Portugal and recognized by other countries, the
honor Horward holds most dear is being named a
Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, France's
highest civilian honor, which was established by
Napoleon himself in 1802. Receiving the Legion of
Honor medal in 2002 "is the highlight of my
career," Horward said. "It's the highest honor
the French can give," and one that is shared with
few other American scholars.

"This is going to be a working retirement,"
Horward said of his plans for the future. His
first task is to finish his latest book, as well
as to teach military history courses each August
at the U.S. Marine War College in Quantico, Va.,
with periodic lectures at the U.S. Military
Academy in West Point, N.Y. He and his wife,
Annabel, also plan to divide their time between
their homes in Tallahassee and Ohio.