The University of Chicago News Office
June 15, 2004 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

University of Chicago names Mexican Studies Center to honor scholar Friedrich Katz

    Print-quality images available:

Friedrich Katz
Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus,
Department of History and the College

Friedrich Katz (center), was honored at a luncheon June 16 for Mexican President Vicente Fox (left) University of Chicago President Don Michael Randel hosted the event, at which the Univeristy announced that it will name its Mexican studies program the Fridrich Katz Center for Mexican Studies.

The University of Chicago student mariachi band performed for Mexican President Vicente Fox at a luncheon on June 16.


The University of Chicago recognized the work of one of the world’s leading scholars of Mexican history by naming its Mexican studies program the Friedrich Katz Center for Mexican Studies.

The naming of the center was announced Wednesday during a lunch at the University for Mexican President Vicente Fox. University President Don Michael Randel was host for the lunch, which also included University faculty, visiting Mexican dignitaries and leaders of Chicago’s Mexican-American community. The University is committed to help raise funds to cover the center’s operating expenses, Randel said.

“The study of Mexico has been important at the University of Chicago for nearly 80 years, and in the past 30 years our program has achieved international eminence,” Randel said. “Those three decades match the tenure here of Friedrich Katz, perhaps the most distinguished historian of modern Mexico in the United States. His outstanding scholarship, his commitment to transnational collaboration and his devoted teaching have created a legacy that is acknowledged by students and colleagues around the world. Naming our Mexican Studies center for him reflects the esteem in which he is held by all of us, and also our commitment to help provide continuing support for Mexican studies at the University of Chicago.”

Katz is the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History and served as Director of the Mexican Studies Program from 1992 to 2002. The program, established in 1991, has become internationally recognized as an outstanding center for Mexican and U.S.-Mexican studies.

Scholars in Mexican studies examine the country’s government, its economic and environmental policy issues, as well its history, emigration and relationships with the United States.

Since its founding, students at the University have completed around 70 doctoral dissertations and over 100 masters theses on Mexican and U.S.-Mexico topics.

The program has organized more than two dozen major international conferences on topics such as financial stabilization and capital flows, agrarian issues and the Mexican Revolution, Mexico-U.S. migration, corruption and society, culture and development, and the history of the press.

In addition, the program has hosted well over 100 lectures and seminars on Mexican topics, and nine scholars from Mexican universities taught courses as Tinker Visiting Professors. It is part of the University’s Center for Latin American Studies.

“Throughout, the program’s central aims have been to foster the production of first-rate original research, to promote bi-national dialogues about history, policies and cultures, and to disseminate new knowledge within and beyond the walls of academia. Few other universities in the United States have forged as strong and useful an intellectual link with Mexico as has the University of Chicago,” said Emilio Kouri, Associate Professor in History and Director of the Friedrich Katz Center for Mexican Studies.

Katz has been a faculty member at the University since 1971. A specialist in 19th- and 20th-century history of Mexico, he also studies diplomatic relations between Latin America, Europe and the United States.

Katz has done path-breaking work on the Mexican revolution and in particular on one of the most important popular leaders of that revolution, Pancho Villa. His works include The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States and the Mexican Revolution (1982), which received the Conference on Latin American History’s Herbert Eugene Bolton Memorial Prize for the year’s best book in English on Latin American history.

In 2000, Katz received three more book awards for his book The Life and Times of Pancho Villa (1998): the Albert J. Beveridge Award, given annually from the American Historical Association for the best work in American history from 1492 to the present; a second Bolton prize; and the Bryce Wood Award for best book on Latin American studies from the Latin American Studies Association. In 1997, he was named a corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. In addition to that honor, Katz has received numerous awards in Mexico. He received the Orden del Aguila Azteca from the President of the Republic of Mexico in 1988; and he was made an honorary citizen of Chihuahua by the congress of the state in 1995. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Colima and the Free University of Berlin and a golden doctorate from the University of Vienna. He is a member in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Katz was born in Vienna, moved as a child to Mexico with his family and completed high school there. He received a B.A. in 1948 from Wagner College in New York and doctorate degrees from both the University of Vienna (1954) and a Doctorate Habil from Humboldt University, Berlin (1962).
Last modified at 05:53 PM CST on Wednesday, June 16, 2004.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us