In memoriam: Neil Larry Shumsky, associate professor emeritus
November 10, 2020
Neil Larry Shumsky, an associate professor emeritus in the Department of History, died on Sept. 3. He was 76.
Shumsky’s storied career at Virginia Tech began in 1972 and ended with his retirement in 2019. A year before, Shumsky had earned recognition for 45 years of service to the university.
Following his retirement, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recognized Shumsky as an associate professor emeritus. Educators who receive the prestigious title are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university.
Shumsky taught several undergraduate and graduate courses focused on immigration, ethnic relations, urban history, and social history. Additional professional roles included serving as president and vice president of the Faculty Senate and director of graduate studies in the Department of History.
In the early 1990s, Shumsky earned a Fulbright Scholarship to teach and conduct research in Austria. His international teaching and research experience also included serving as a visiting lecturer at the Université de Provence in France. He later served as the co-principal investigator on multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. Some grants supported a Summer Minorities Program hosted by the history department.
Shumsky, who earned his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, committed his research to studying American urban, immigration, and social history. A prolific writer, he authored, edited, or co-edited seven books and more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He also served on the board of directors of the Urban History Association and as a member of the American Historical Association and the Oral History Association Joint Committee on the Status of History.
In addition to his love of history, Shumsky adored baseball, adventurous travel, teaching, and, of course, his family. He is survived by his wife, Marcia; his sons, Michael and Eric; his daughter-in-law, Lee; his granddaughters, Hannah and Abbey; and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law.