Teo Ruiz among 4 winners of Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award for 2023–24

Portrait of Teo Ruiz

Courtesy of Zócalo Public Square

Teo Ruiz in 2016

Sean Brenner | June 13, 2024

Teo Ruiz, distinguished research professor of Spanish and Portuguese and of history, is one of four UCLA faculty members to receive the Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award for 2023–24.

The awards honor emeriti professors for outstanding research, scholarly work, teaching and service following their retirement. The other winners are Alan Ardell (material sciences and engineering), Dr. Thomas Coates (medicine) and Dr. Robert Ettenger (pediatrics).

Ruiz, widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading medieval historians, was honored for his exceptional scholarly activity since his retirement in 2019.

“I am deeply honored by the Dickson Emeritus Award,” Ruiz said. “Many of my fellow emeriti are far, far more deserving of this honor than I am. The award is an incentive to continue to contribute to the university’s scholarly and pedagogical mission.”

In the award announcement, Michael Levine, UCLA’s vice chancellor for academic affairs and personnel, noted that Ruiz “has published at least 13 articles and essays in various international journals and books, with an additional three papers in press and another book in preparation.” The announcement also lauded Ruiz for his enduring commitment to UCLA’s academic mission, exemplified by his teaching of Fiat Lux seminars and undergraduate lectures, including the popular history course “Religion, Occult, and Science: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in Western Tradition, 1000–1600,” which typically enrolls more than 360 students.

He also has led UCLA Alumni Travel educational tours to locales including Italy, France, Cuba and Morocco, and he has received numerous honors during the past five years. In 2023, the International Jornadas Históricas in Najera, Spain, was dedicated to him in recognition of his contributions to the study of medieval Iberia; he received the Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association (2022), the highest honor accorded to U.S. historians for scholarly work; and he served as the Lester Little Resident Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (2019).

Ruiz said he intends to continue teaching undergraduates in diverse Fiat Lux courses, and to continue his research and writing for as long as possible.

Among his many other previous honors, Ruiz was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, received a National Humanities Medal in 2012, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. He has been a member of the UCLA faculty since 1998.

A message of beauty

In 2020, months after the outbreak of COVID-19, Teo Ruiz recorded a powerful video essay for UCLA espousing the notion that “beauty saves.” Amid the struggles and uncertainty of the early days of the pandemic, he encouraged viewers to find their own ways to add beauty to the world.