The university lost a distinguished member of its community as professor Richard Stites of the history department in the School of Foreign Service passed away on March 7 surrounded by family and friends after a battle with cancer. Stites was 78 years old and on research leave in Helsinki, Finland.
A scholar of cultural and social Russian history, Stites was known by students and colleagues as a constant source of positive energy. Last semester, he co-taught a course titled “The World of Hitler and Stalin” with Roger Chickering. In past semesters, he taught courses in European and Russian history.
“He lived virtually to the end as he had in full health: larger than life – full of energy, cheer, mischief and infectious goodwill for his many, many friends,” Chickering said. “It was my singular good fortune to have taught a group of undergraduates with him last fall, so I saw him put these qualities to spectacular use in the classroom.”
Max Stoiber (SFS ’11), a former student of Stites, reflected on the professor’s teaching style and willingness to connect with his students.
“In my view, the special thing about [Stites] was his uncanny ability to make you open your eyes to facets of an issue that you hadn’t at all considered before. He not only made you analyze an issue from different perspectives, he made you discover entirely new perspectives,” Stoiber said.
Stites was well known in the academic community for his work in Russian history, especially that of the arts and popular culture, the women’s movement and revolutionary utopianism. He was published many times, including as a co-author of a widely used textbook on Russian history. At the time of his death, Stites was writing a book titled “The Four Horsemen: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Post-Napoleonic Europe,” which focused on the 1820s revolutions in Spain, Naples, Greece and Russia.
“On the whole, Stites’ scholarship is striking for its chronological scope, as few scholars, in all likelihood, would feel comfortable ranging widely across two centuries so full of upheaval, revolution and dramatic change,” the editors of Kritika, a leading academic journal in Russian studies, wrote of Stites in an article published in their 2010 winter issue.
Stites also received a number of research awards and fellowships, allowing him to conduct research and teach in various European countries. Stites joined the Georgetown community in 1977 and was appointed the School of Foreign Service Board of Visitors Distinguished Professor in International Studies at Georgetown in 2007.
According to a statement released by the history department, Stites’ funeral and burial will take place in Helsinki. A memorial event at the Georgetown campus will be organized later this semester.
[Read the original Saxaspeak post here.](https://saxaspeak.thehoya.com/2010/03/11/history-professor-richard-stites-passes-away-in-finland/)”