Constantine Panunzio (1884-1964)
Constantine Panunzio (1884-1964) begins his autobiography by describing his childhood in Molfetta, Italy. At age 13, he left home as a sailor, landing in Boston in 1902.
His trials finding work, learning English, and securing an education in the U.S. were many, but eventually, he became administrator of a social service agency in Boston. During WWI, he served as head of the YMCA on the Italian front. Concerned throughout his career with the treatment and assimilation of immigrants, Panunzio criticized the post world War I hysteria about alien radicals in his book The Deportation Cases of 1919-1920.
In 1925, Panunzio earned a Ph.D. at the Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government. From 1931, until he retired in 1951, he taught sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
From Sue: A few notes about Panunzio’s retirement activities: An in memoriam tribute to Panunzio written in 1966 by the Academic Senate of the University of California has this to say: “It is curious that Panunzio, a sociologist, perhaps did his greatest sociological work after he had retired. The then (1952) existing University pension system was grossly inadequate. . . In certain instances, the consequences were pathetic: to cite one example, a well-known full professor who had been an important figure in the early days of UCLA’s development worked as a night watchman to supplement his $93-a-month pension. . .”
Outraged at the small retirement benefit he was receiving himself, Panunzio “drew up a bill of particulars, setting forth the facts and statistics” which, in turn, set in forth a successful movement to reform the California university retirement system! He also, personally, created a bequest funding the Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award honoring “outstanding scholarly work or educational service performed since retirement by a University of California emeritus or emerita in the humanities or social sciences.”
It is interesting to me that there are many pictures on the internet of persons who have won Panunzio’s distinguished emeriti award, but I could find no picture of Panunzio himself. The “in memoriam” biography concludes with this assessment of the man : “Although a person of great social charm and given to human warmth and kindness, Panunzio could be a tenacious and unyielding opponent in matters which involved his convictions. He was not a man to be awed by opposition, however great. This singleness of purpose, though it sometimes lost him potential friends and created strained relations with colleagues and administrators, made it possible for him to achieve goals which otherwise would have been out of reach.” I would like to have met him!
I have also recorded Panunzio’s The Deportation Cases of 1919-1920.
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