Thursday, May 19, 2016

Not Stopping

Dr Joe Lugalla, long-tiime Professor in Anthropology, is retiring

You'd think that Joe Lugalla might want to just relax. He has worked for more than 40 years as an educator and researcher, the last 22 of which were spent as an anthropology professor at UNH. He's retiring this year. Perhaps, now, a daily mid-morning cup of chai is in order, followed by a stroll down the streets of Durham or Njombe-Iringa in his native Tanzania. But that's not what retirement will look like for Lugalla. In fact, he has already hit the ground running on a new career path.

Lugalla has assumed the directorship of the Institute for Educational Development in East Africa (IED-EA), located at Agakhan University is Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The Institute is a leading center in East Africa for providing professional development programs to teachers, educational leaders, managers and others working in the field of education. The goal is to improve the quality of education in the region.

Development and public health in Sub-Saharan African have long been the focus of Lugalla's scholarship and teaching. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Tanzania with a particular focus on understanding the dynamics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He has published frequently on that subject, as well as on infant mortality, children's health, poverty, education access, urbanization and other issues affecting the quality of life in Tanzania and the Sub Sahara. As UNH colleague and department chair Meghan Howey notes, his work has always been very personal, "driven by an intense passion to improve the lives of people in his home country." His work at IED-EA is a further manifestation of that passion.

The Institute's gain is UNH's loss, particularly for students.

"Joe's passion for improving the lives of others is contagious," says Howey. Lugalla has been a student magnet — teaching, mentoring and transforming the thinking of hundreds, even thousands, of students. He challenged them to look at the world anew. His office was "constantly abuzz" with students inspired by him to get involved in international health, development and social justice. After meeting Lugalla, they wanted to make a difference in the world.

His colleagues will miss that intensity, too.

"It is hard to capture all that is Joe — his vibrancy, his intellect, his life story, his charisma...," says Howey, who credits Lugalla with saving the Department during a period of crisis through his generosity and steady hand as department chair. "We already miss what he has given our students and to us personally as his colleagues — but we also know he will make a huge impact in his new position and in the lives of those around him."

As a retired faculty member, Lugalla certainly won't be taking it easy, but he'll be working to make life a little easier for others. Hopefully, he'll also make some time, now and again, to peacefully sip a cup of chai.

Susan Dumais '88 '02G

May 2016