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February 3, 2000

OBITUARY: Arthur Tuden

Each semester for more than three decades, Arthur Tuden introduced some 300 Pitt students to cultural anthropology. Few, if any, found the experience boring.

"When I arrived here as a graduate student in 1969, I would stand outside the door of that big lecture hall in David Lawrence Hall to watch and listen to Arthur teach. He held those students spellbound," Pitt anthropology department chairperson Richard Scaglion said of his former colleague, who died Jan. 19, 2000, of pancreatic and liver cancer.

"We're talking about a classroom full of 300 restless, potentially bored undergraduates. It's really hard to hold the attention of a large class like that, let alone keep them enthralled, but Arthur did it semester after semester," Scaglion recalled. "He was charismatic, dynamic, he told funny anecdotes, he varied his pace. He was just a bundle of energy, in addition to being a brilliant scholar."

Tuden, 73, died at his Squirrel Hill home. At a Jan. 22 memorial service, former colleagues, students and family members remembered Tuden as an ebullient intellectual, a founding member of Pitt's anthropology department, a prolific writer, a dedicated peace activist and a mentor to many in his department, particularly minority and non-traditional aged students.

Not that Tuden was above testing his students' dedication before agreeing to mentor them.

Scaglion said a Ph.D. graduate e-mailed him the following story after hearing of Tuden's death: After class one day, she timidly asked Tuden if he would do an independent reading course with her. "Here," Tuden said, handing the young woman a weighty, densely written and particularly boring anthropology tome. "Read this," Tuden said, "then come back next week and tell me what you think of it."

The student spent much of the following week plowing through the book, then duly visited Tuden's office.

Tuden looked up from his desk and exclaimed: "What are you doing here? I thought I'd never see you again!"

"That was Arthur's little test of her," Scaglion said. "From that point on, he took her under his wing and ended up mentoring her through her Ph.D.

"Arthur was always interested in people. If he was in your corner, that was a very good thing for you."

After a four-year stint in the Navy during World War II (he joined up at age 16), Tuden won a scholarship to Yale and received his bachelor's degree there in 1951. He attended the London School of Economics from 1952 to 1953, and earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1963.

Tuden began his teaching career as an anthropology instructor at Princeton from 1955 to 1956. He came to Pitt in 1958 as a research associate at the Administrative Science Center. He became an assistant professor of anthropology in 1959, an associate professor in 1962 and a full professor in 1969. Tuden was acting department head from 1959 to 1960 and from 1962 to 1963.

He also held a joint appointment in the nursing school in 1971 and lectured for several years in Pitt's M.B.A. program.

Tuden did field research in Rhodesia, the Virgin Islands, Ukraine and among western Pennsylvania's Carpatho-Rus community. He received numerous research grants, and authored, co-authored or edited six books and dozens of articles. He was a longtime editor of the journal Ethnology, published out of Pitt's anthropology department.

Surviving are Tuden's wife of 41 years, Agnes; son Daniel of Alexandria, Va.; daughters Lydia T. Oxendine of Newton, Mass., and Rebecca Livingstone Tuden of Berkeley, Calif.; sister Lillian Christian of San Anselmo, Calif., and one grandson.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's French Creek Project, 209 Fourth Ave., Pittsburgh 15222.

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