It is with sadness that we learnt of the passing of one of the Institute’s great friends, Professor Serge Ricard, on 9 February 2022.
Serge Ricard was Emeritus Professor of American Civilization at Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle, having been appointed there in 1998. A renowned scholar on the life and times of President Theodore Roosevelt, he was also well known as an erudite and learned historian of American expansionism, imperialism, and foreign policy.
Ricard’s first contact with what was then the Roosevelt Study Center went all the way back to the RSC’s opening conference in September 1986. In later years he was a regular contributor to the conferences of European Historians of the United States organized by RSC Director Kees van Minnen and Professor of American History Sylvia Hilton, which functioned as important gatherings for promoting the historical study of the USA within the American Studies community as a whole.
In 1999 his association with the RSC was strengthened when he served as a member of an evaluation committee to review the Center’s activities and goals. A year later, in recognition of his services, he was appointed to the International Advisory Board, alongside professors Tony Badger (Cambridge), Detlef Junker (Heidelberg), and Doeko Bosscher (Groningen). He used this position to good effect, being a valuable contact in Paris for encouraging French PhD students to participate in the RSC’s annual PhD seminars alongside their peers from Cambridge and Heidelberg. The cooperation went so far as to involve the Sorbonne Nouvelle to sign an agreement with the RSC for student groups to visit the Center in order to make use of its archival collections and library. In November 2012, to honor his long association with the Center and to mark his departure from the Advisory Board after twelve years, he was appointed Honorary Roosevelt Fellow for life.
Ricard was a major supporter of the RSC’s role as a center of expertise and learning on US history, and he was always prepared to lend his considerable prestige to the Center’s cause. In France itself he was regarded as a leading figure in the field, having contributed a great deal to strengthening the study of the United States in French universities. He was responsible for setting up the Center for North American and Latin American and Latin Research and Analysis and Research (CARNAL) at the University of Aix-Marseille 1, he also co-directed the Foreign Policy Observatory of the Sorbonne Nouvelle for ten years. Twice a “Fulbrighter” to Harvard, Serge’s publication record in US history is remarkable, including Theodore Roosevelt: Principles and Practices of a Foreign Policy (1991), The Mass Media in America: An Overview (1998), The Manifest Destiny of the United States in the 19th Century: Ideological and Political Aspects (1999), as well as the substantial anthology A Companion to Theodore Roosevelt (2011).
Serge Ricard was a gentle leader who took a genuine interest in students’ work, and he was always ready to offer research advice. His involvement in the RSC’s activities and his careful guidance regarding its management were very valuable contributions to the Center during the 1990s and 2000s.