Carlson, Maria

Carlson, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Maria Carlson
  • Served as the Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University Of Kansas
  • Recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University Of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence
  • H. Bernerd Fink Award winner for outstanding classroom teaching
  • Her first book, No Religion Higher Than Truth, is praised as the definitive history of Russian Theosophy

Dr. Maria Carlson is known for her work as a Russian intellectual historian. At the University of Kansas, she has served as the Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies, where she has had a “central role in elevating KU’s prominence in Russian and East European studies.” As the Director, Dr. Carlson was successful in writing three consecutive winning national grants for Title VI funds. She was successful in creating an ongoing partnership with the University of L’viv in Ukraine, and KU now has a nationally recognized Ukrainian Studies degree. She helped establish a relationship with the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth so officers could earn MA degrees from the department. Finally, she established a study abroad program in art history in collaboration with others from St. Petersburg University.

Former students and colleagues rave about Maria’s outstanding capabilities as a mentor. When a former student was no longer able to work with his doctoral advisor at a different university, Dr. Carlson offered her time in guiding this student through his degree by editing his papers, counseling him on his career decisions, and helping him through each stage of his job search. One faculty member says Dr. Carlson is, “generous, demanding, and unstinting in holding younger colleagues to the standards of the profession.” It could be said that she leads by example. One student gave several examples of lessons he learned from Dr. Carlson including “Be honest… Put in a good day’s work. You work until the job is done and not until 5 pm ... Each student is a person and not just an ID number… You are a public servant.”

As a scholar and historian, Dr. Carlson’s first book No Religion Higher than Truth is praised as the definitive history of Russian Theosophy. She specializes on Russia’s “Silver Age” and pushes forth the idea that the study of past philosophers must be considered in the context in which they lived. Her ongoing project today concerns the Book of Veles and will provide America with information about neo-fascist groups in Russia. Some of her awards include the Excellence in Teaching from the KU Center for Teaching Excellence, the H. Bernerd Fink Award for Outstanding Classroom Teaching, and the National Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Post-Secondary Level from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. Dr. Carlson’s accomplishments have pushed the Center for Russian and East European Studies at KU onto a national level, has furthered the growth of her students, and has made a significant impact in her field of study with great character and leadership skills.

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