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Association of American Geographers Recognizes UM College of Arts & Sciences Professor for his Contributions to Ethnic Geography

By UM News

Association of American Geographers Recognizes UM College of Arts & Sciences Professor for his Contributions to Ethnic Geography

By UM News
Senior Professor Thomas Boswell Receives Distinguished Career Award from Ethnic Geography Specialty Group

For close to 40 years, Thomas Boswell, senior professor of geography in the UM College of Arts & Sciences, has shared his expertise on world population problems, migration, ethnicity, and housing discrimination with University of Miami (UM) students.

In addition to inspiring his students and publishing six books and countless journal articles, Boswell has been an active member of the Ethnic Geography Specialty Group (EGSG) of the Association of American Geographers (AAG).

Tom Boswell and Ira Sheskin
UM Geography Professors Ira Sheskin (left) and Tom Boswell

The EGSG recognized Boswell’s unmatched contribution to the field by presenting him with the Distinguished Career Award at the AAG conference in Tampa last week.

The award “celebrates (the recipient’s) selfless commitment to the pursuit of research and demonstration of knowledge” and recognizes “an outstanding and brilliant career.”

Boswell certainly fits the bill. His long-time colleague Ira Sheskin – professor, chair, and graduate program director in the College’s Department of Geography and Regional Studies – said the pair became “instant friends” when both arrived on campus in the 1970s.

“Tom was clearly devoted to both his research and teaching,” Sheskin said. “Tom is truly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. And he is truly dedicated to doing a good job with his students.”

Sheskin added that he and Boswell have agreed on “the vast majority of issues that have faced the department” over the years. Boswell served as chair for six years, and is now a senior professor, teaching only during the Spring Semester for three years as he works toward his retirement. 

In addition to his service on campus, Boswell has been a leader in the EGSG, serving as chair, vice chair, secretary-treasurer, and a member of its Board of Directors. He has edited the group’s newsletter for many years, and co-chaired its 2008 Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference in Miami. He has won the EGSG’s Distinguished Ethnic Geographer Award and its Service Award.

An expert on immigration from the Caribbean into the United States, Boswell’s books include Caribbean Islands and South Florida: Winds of Change.

Sheskin said Boswell is generous in sharing his knowledge in this area. “In South Florida, Tom is a ‘public intellectual.’ He freely gives of his time to address numerous groups on ethnicity in South Florida and is often quoted in the local and national press on this topic.”

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a non-profit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. Its members from more than 60 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG’s Annual Meeting, scholarly journals, and the online AAG newsletter. Its Ethnic Geography Specialty Group promotes the common interests of scholars and professionals researching ethnic geography. For more information, please visit