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Elizabeth "Libby" Tucker tells ghost stories around the campfire during Homecoming a few years back. She has recently been promoted to distinguished service professor.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Libby Tucker promoted to distinguished service professor
November 22, 2015Tweet
Elizabeth “Libby” Tucker was promoted to distinguished service professor at recent meeting of the SUNY Board of Trustees. She joins more than 75 Binghamton University faculty who have achieved distinguished rank.
Promotion to distinguished service professor is bestowed upon those who have achieved a notable reputation for extraordinary service not only to the campus and SUNY, but to the community, state and beyond by application of intellectual skills from the individual’s scholarly and research interests.
The author of five books and a recipient of Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in teaching and service, Tucker is internationally known as an expert in children’s and adolescents’ folklore and her service to the campus and her profession is legendary.
“The level of respect she commands as an international expert in children’s and adolescent’s folklore is the foundation for her extraordinary service to her profession at the state, national and international levels,” said President Harvey Stenger, “but her service to the campus as a faculty master and mentor to students truly sets her apart.”
“As a master, I found it extremely rewarding to get to know students as individuals,” Tucker said. “That’s harder to do when you’re in the classroom and grading them. The opportunity to get to know them as individuals apart from the classroom was very special.”
The promotion – a wonderful surprise, said Tucker – “means a great deal to me because I’ve spent so many years working with our wonderful students. It’s such a privilege and honor to work with so many exceptional students and colleagues, and to see the University grow. To have this recognition come from a place that I love and contribute to is very meaningful to me.”
Tucker, who received her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, her master’s from the State University College at Buffalo and her PhD in folklore from Indiana University, has been a member of the English faculty at Binghamton University for 38 years. She has served numerous times as undergraduate director and graduate director for her department, and as Dickinson Community Faculty Master from 1991 to 1999. She was also Apartment Communities Faculty Master from 2006 to 2010.
Tucker’s dedication to the role of faculty master resulted in the establishment of the Libby Tucker Academic Center in the Dickinson Community in 1999, the Libby Tucker Scholarly Achievement Award in the Apartment Communities in 2009, and the Libby Tucker Center in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center in 2011.
As Apartment Communities Faculty Master, Tucker found herself assisting with career searches and making connections for students with alumni. She also started a transfer mentor network that was extended to the entire campus.
“It was great working with the other faculty masters, a group of colleague from different departments with a unified goal of finding different ways to help students make the most of college and plan for the future,” she said.
She calls her service to students the highlight of her Binghamton. “Certainly, one of the best moments I’ve had was my last year as Dickinson Faculty Master and working so closely with staff and students there to plan programs. There was a big party for me when I left and that was really nice.” There was another party for her when she stepped down from her Apartment Communities Faculty Master post.
“I feel like I’m pre-retired in a way,” she said. “I’ve already had two parties and I’m still here!”
Called a remarkable citizen-scholar by colleagues, Tucker is one of the most distinguished scholars working in the field of children’s folklore and perhaps the leading authority on children’s belief traditions according to colleagues. She frequently shares her expertise at the local, state, national and international levels – and locally, she is known for telling ghost stories.
And stories are what she also gained from her time as a master. “My work as a faculty master really became part of my research interests because I heard so many stories told by students in the halls and they really showed me how storytelling in residential halls works,” she said. “Sometimes they would slip notes under my door at midnight. It was very exciting and stimulated my interests, and later when I was no longer faculty master, I wrote my Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses book.
Tucker’s campus service on committees is extensive and she has served on more than 70 doctoral committees, yet she has also taken leadership roles in the American Folklore Society as the editor the Children’s Folklore Review, one of the most-cited journals in the field, and editor of two other academic journals. She has served as president of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, as the president of the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society and as a member of the executive board of the New York State Folklore Society.
Giving most of her time to teaching now, she is also working on a book about legend trips – visits to notorious or haunted places to see if something amazing or supernatural will happen.
As for the promotion: “This is such a great job with so many opportunities for enjoyable service that I feel truly thankful,” Tucker said.