2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
BA 1967, American & English Literature
Adjunct Professor of English, Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
A native of northern Indiana, Benjamin S. Lawson received his B.A. in English from Purdue in 1967. Building upon his Purdue academic experience, he went on to graduate degrees at Indiana University and Bowling Green State University. He then became an English professor at Albany State University in Georgia, where he taught for over thirty years and about which he wrote a book, Doors: Reflections on an HBCU Career. His other books include Rereading the Revolution and Joaquin Miller.
During his time in Georgia he won four awards for summer study from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the School of Criticism and Theory. A Fulbright Association lecturing award in 1991 took him to the University of Helsinki in Finland, an institution which then hosted him for another semester three years later. Also by invitation was a term lecturing at University College London. In 2000 Lawson won a prestigious Fulbright Distinguished Professorship award as the Walt Whitman Chair of American Literature at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. For three subsequent years he then served on the national Fulbright Association board--twice as chair--which selects these distinguished professor awards for universities in Europe and Canada.
After retirement from Albany State University, he taught for ten years as an adjunct professor at Florida State University, where he serves on the board of the Fulbright Association and encourages students to expand their horizons.
Lawson continues to write, to travel, and to appear as a guest speaker.