BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius University Alumni Association will confer the Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award upon René De la Pedraja, PhD, during Spring Honors Convocation on Friday, May 17 at 2 p.m. at the Montante Cultural Center. The award, presented annually, recognizes a faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world.
A professor of history at Canisius, De la Pedraja is respected by students and admired by colleagues, many of whom have come to rely on him as a mentor. His courses are known for their academic rigor, which he infuses with his vast knowledge of history, his extensive travels abroad and engaging storytelling. Students say De la Pedraja promotes critical thinking and analytical skills and a passion for international issues.
De la Pedraja’s areas of discipline include the history of the Western Civilization, the history of Latin America from 1830 to present, and the wars of Latin America. He is one of the leading forces who designed the college’s Latin American Studies Program.
De la Pedraja’s prolific publishing and quality of scholarship, especially his trilogy on Latin American wars, is impressive. He has published 13 books and many articles on a wide variety of topics from military history to Caribbean culture, establishing himself as a nationally prominent expert in these fields.
He has recently entered the field of Russian studies. Last year he published a book on the military of post-Soviet Russia, and he is writing a companion volume on that country’s foreign relations during the same period.
He is known, too, for his outstanding work with the All-College Honors Program. For the last 10 years, De la Pedraja has taught the introductory Honors courses of Western Tradition I and II. His extensive intellect and individual care for students make him a frequent choice as thesis adviser for All-College Honors students.
De la Pedraja exemplifies loyalty to the ideals of a Jesuit education ̶ in particular, magis, or to “do more” in service. He does this through various leadership roles at the college. De la Pedraja has been extremely active with the Faculty Senate for decades, including serving three years as chair. On many occasions he has been a member of the Academic Program Board and is currently a faculty representative on the college’s Budget Committee.
De la Pedraja is a past recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Award. Choice, a unit of the Association of College & Research Libraries, also recognized him with its Outstanding Academic Book Award.
De la Pedraja holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Houston and a master’s degree and PhD in history from the University of Chicago.
Canisius University is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.