Dr. Larry E. Nelson to deliver 5th William C. Moran Address

Alexis M. Johnson, Staff Writer

Francis Marion University faculty and students will have a chance to hear the 5th William C. Moran Address on Thursday, March 24 at 4 p.m. in the Lowrimore Auditorium. The address will be given by retired Professor of History, Dr. Larry E. Nelson.

The Moran Address, a parting lecture delivered by retiring professors, has been given since 2005.

“In 2005, Lorraine de Montluzin, who was a professor of history here, retired and we decided that we should give her the opportunity to give a valedictory, a farewell speech,” English Professor Dr. Jon Tuttle said.

This year’s address will be titled “There is Life After Retirement.” Nelson’s address will feature a story about a member of Hartsville’s prominent Coker family, Hannah Lide Coker, who during the Civil War was able to maintain a rare form of communication with her sons who were in combat, especially her oldest son, James Lide Coker.

Nelson earned his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, his master’s degree from the University of Utah and his doctoral degree in History from Duke University.

During his 35-year span at FMU, he taught American and European history courses. He was also a member of numerous committees, such as the Academic Council, the Faculty Constitution Revision Committee and the Writing Across the Curriculum Task Force.

Nelson published several books such as “Bullets, Ballots and Rhetoric: Confederate Policy for the United States Presidential Election of 1864” (1980) and several articles, such as “Black Leaders and the Presidential Election of 1864” (1978).

Nelson was also active in the community. Among several other honors, he was selected by the governor to serve on the South Carolina Humanities Council, served as Vice President of the Pee Dee Heritage Center and was involved with many historical societies, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Florence County Historical Society.

Upon Nelson’s retirement in 2009, he was the Chair of the History Department, the A.R. Avent Professor of History and the J. Lorin Mason Distinguished Professor.

The Moran Address is named for Dr. William C. Moran, who served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at FMU from 1978 to 1992, followed by an eight year tenure as President of Lander University.

Other professors who have given the address include Dr. Roger W. Allen, Jr., professor of mathematics; Dr. Mary H. McNulty, professor of English; and Dr. Julia Krebs, professor of biology.

Following the address, a reception will be held at the FMU Cottage.  A copy of the address will be provided for viewing.

FMU President Dr. Fred Carter acknowledged that Nelson is worthy to give the address.

“Larry is an engaging, compassionate scholar with an insatiable curiosity and a dry sense of humor,” Carter said.  “He is admired and revered by students and colleagues alike and is an exemplary and popular choice as the 2011 Moran lecturer.”

Last lectures have become traditions of universities.

“Universities have last lectures for a retiring professor who is held in high esteem by his colleagues,” Tuttle said. “They want to give him a platform to speak from for the last time and to say goodbye.”

The creation of the Moran Address reflects this tradition.

“The William C. Moran lecture series was created to honor a senior, distinguished member of the faculty whose accomplishments in the areas of teaching and research are superlative and sustained,” Carter said.

Last lectures are important because they reiterate the values of teaching that are often overlooked.

“Respect ought to be paid to a person who has devoted his life not only to his particular discipline, but to people-generations of students who have benefitted from having known him,” Tuttle said.

“The rewards in teaching are largely intangible, since nobody ever gets rich doing it.  These last lectures are a way of reminding all of us-not just the speaker-that what we do here at a university is important and resonates throughout our lives and the lives of our children.”

Although the address is usually largely attended by faculty members, students stand to benefit if they attend.

“Students will gain a sense of perspective,” Tuttle said.  “Someday you’re going to look up and realize your life is more than half over and you’re going to say, ‘Well then, this then must be who I am.’ Listening to a respected historian looking back on his own history reminds us that what we do with ourselves is important and that we ought to do something we consider worthwhile and valuable.”

“And history, of course, is beyond valuable, because who we are is determined in large part by who we have been,” Tuttle said.