Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf
November 10, 2011
We hope you will be able to join us for a Memorial Tribute for Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf, on Friday, February 3, 2012 at 3:00pm at the UNM Alumni Chapel on the University of New Mexico campus (500 Redondo Drive NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106). All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf, a distinguished scholar of colonial Latin America, passed away on November 8, 2011. An alum of the University of New Mexico and a generous friend of the Latin American & Iberian Institute, Greenleaf was born on May 6, 1930. With an extensive career in teaching, research, and service, he has been called "one of the most influential historians of colonial Latin America" (Schwaller, 2008) with a sphere of influence that extends across international borders.
Greenleaf's interest in the Southwest and Latin America developed first while he was a child living on a farm beside the Rio Grande and later as a student working through three degrees at the University of New Mexico. Greenleaf obtained a B.A. in Government studies in 1953, an M.A. in Inter-American Affairs in 1954, and finally a Ph.D. in History in 1957. During this time the renowned France V. Scholes served as his notable mentor, contributing substantially to his immersion and understanding of the field. Indeed, the doctoral dissertation, "Zumárraga and the Mexican Inquisition 1536-1543," produced under Scholes' tutelage, "served as the basis for his many excellent publications on the history of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Latin America" (Chuchiak et al, 2008).
Having studied in Mexico while writing his dissertation, it seemed a natural choice for Greenleaf to move to Mexico City after graduating. He lived there for thirteen years, teaching and researching at Mexico City College, an institution now known as the University of the Américas, as well as serving as the College's Academic Vice-President. Throughout these years Greenleaf continued to write, gradually adding to what is now a substantial corpus of scholarly work.
In 1969, Greenleaf transitioned to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he cemented his extensive teaching and service record while serving as Director of the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies and as Chair of the Department of History. By the time he retired in 1998, Greenleaf had authored nearly a dozen major books, served as contributor to several more, and written over 50 articles. Despite this impressive range of scholarship Greenleaf maintained that "The most important contributions I made were students. They say a man is known by his graduate students and where they are teaching" (Schwaller, 2008). Needless to say, Greenleaf "served as mentor to 34 doctoral students at Tulane, and countless masters and undergraduate students both in the United States and in Mexico" (Chuchiak et al, 2008). Recently, when UNM held a reception in honor of Greenleaf, the event drew "friends, students and colleagues from across the country and Mexico" (UNM Foundation, 2010). Such attendance is clear evidence of his enduring impact.
After his retirement in 1998 Greenleaf returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he continued tirelessly to support the teaching, study and research of colonial Latin America at his alma mater.
Reflecting upon Dr. Greenleaf, Susan Tiano (Director of the Latin American & Iberian Institute), said, "He had such a tremendous impact on not only colonial studies but also Latin American Studies writ large. He dedicated his life to scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and Latin American Studies administration. There is no doubt that his legacy will continue to make a difference and inform Latin American Studies."
A memorial service for Dr. Greenleaf will be held on Friday, November 25, 2011, 3:00pm, at St. John's Methodist Church (2626 Arizona St. NE), and a memorial tribute will be held on Friday, February 3, 2012, 3:00pm, at the UNM Alumni Chapel.