Professor Emeritus of Sociology Leslie “Les” Howard ‘62 passed away this summer on July 6 after a prolonged illness at 77 years old. Howard began teaching at Whittier College in 1981 and was admired by many professors for his passion for teaching, his expertise in his field, and his kind demeanor.
Before teaching at Whittier, Howard completed his Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Sociology at Harvard University. He then taught at the University of Michigan in 1967 and the University of Toronto in the 1970s. After many years teaching, Howard became a research associate in sociology at Harvard Medical School. He also consulted for universities, research organizations, and the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto.
During his time at Whittier, Howard studied the relationship between Mexico and Canada after the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). His interests were in the U.S.-Mexican border society and culture, as well as the role that work played in relationship to the rest of people’s lives.
In 1989, the College recognized Howard with the Harry W. Nerhood award; a testament to his excellence. He was recognized for his work with mentoring students as well as his enthusiasm for teaching.
For over 20 years Howard taught the Jan Term class Urban Studies, in which students to explored Downtown Los Angeles. Students used public transportation to feel immersed in city life as they observed gentrification, homelessness, and the issue of poverty. Discussions about these topics took place in Howard’s home in Uptown Whittier over breakfast before adventures into the city.
Howard’s life was celebrated on Aug. 19 at the Shannon Center, where both students, staff, and alumni were in attendance. Howard inspired many Poets, both students and his colleagues and will be greatly missed. by the Whittier community.