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Professors Thomas Healy and Andrea McDowell

In Two Years, Two Guggenheims

Professors McDowell and Healy are both writing books that bring dramatic insights to our nation's history and who we are as society


Professor Andrea McDowell followed Professor Thomas Healy to become the second Seton Hall Law faculty member to receive  a Fellowship in two years.

Presented annually to recognize “prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the world’s most coveted awards. Since 1925, the Foundation has granted over $325 million in Fellowships to almost 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, poets laureate, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, and National Book Award. This year Professor McDowell was one of only two scholars recognized in the category of Law. 

“I am moved by this recognition of my research and deeply honored to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Professor McDowell. “I am also truly grateful for the opportunity it will afford me.”

The Fellowship will allow Professor McDowell to complete her groundbreaking book, We the Miners: Self-Government in the California Gold Rush, to be published by Harvard University Press.

 “The mining camps of the California gold rush from 1848 to 1853 began in an almost complete legal vacuum,” Professor McDowell explained. “California had no American government, and Mexican law was abolished. What little authority remained was totally unprepared for the onslaught of men, money and desperation that was the California Gold Rush. But to everyone’s surprise, the result was not chaos. Their successes, and even their failures, offer a unique lens on participatory government and American law and society.”

Professor McDowell earned her Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Yale Law School. She has taught or held fellowships at Leiden, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Professor McDowell specializes in legal history, property, and trusts and estates.

Professor Thomas Healy was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015, in the category of General Non-Fiction, to assist in conducting research on his book, Soul City: The Lost Dream of an American Utopia. Professor Healy has since also been has been awarded a Fellowship by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, one of numerous programs conducted under the direction of Hutchins Center leader Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the world-renowned scholar and civil rights activist.

Soul City, a concept developed and nurtured in the 1970s by civil rights leader Floyd McKissick, was designed as a model of black economic empowerment and to help relieve the blight of the northern ghettos. The planned city was to be built on an abandoned slave plantation in rural North Carolina and to reflect the latest thinking in social policy and urban planning. Despite support from the Nixon administration and various private organizations, the plan ran into stiff resistance from conservatives, including Senator Jesse Helms, and was abandoned after 10 years.

“Soul City was one of the most important projects to grow out of the civil rights movement, yet it is now largely forgotten as both a concept and a place,” said Professor Healy, a native of North Carolina and a former reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer, which played a central role in Soul City's demise.

Professor Healy is the Gerard Carey Research Fellow at Seton Hall Law, where his teaching and scholarship focus on issues related to Constitutional Law and, specifically, the First Amendment. His acclaimed first work, The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2013), won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Award.  Professor Healy received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.

“To have two colleagues receive Guggenheims in two successive years is truly a remarkable statement about the quality of our scholarship, especially since our faculty is relatively small,” said Kathleen M. Boozang, Dean and Professor of Law. “Students and professors alike are proud of Andrea and Thomas. As legal scholars, both have a gift for contributing dramatic new insights into our perspectives on American history and our view of who we are as a society. And they bring that same brilliance to the Seton Hall Law classroom, challenging and empowering our students to excel as they pursue their legal studies and subsequent careers in the law.”