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April 12, 2013
By John Trent
Gary Hausladen, whose award-winning career in the Department of Geography at the University spanned more than 25 years and was one of the campus' most well-known professors, passed away on April 8. He was 66.
A memorial mass is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Community, at 1101 North Virginia Street. A reception to follow in the Newman Center will allow friends, family, and students to exchange reminiscences. Our Lady of Wisdom is located just west of the Davidson Academy and across Virginia Street.
Hausladen's career at the University began in 1987. He was one of the few professors in the history of the University to win the institution's three most important teaching awards -- the college-wide Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award (1992), the campus-wide F. Donald Tibbitts Excellence in Teaching Award (1994) and the system-wide Board Regents' Teaching Award (2002).
In a 2000 interview, Hausladen said his teaching style stemmed from ensuring his geography students always understood that the subject could be applied to practically every aspect of their lives, from music to film to books to a city's street configuration to the wonders of the natural world.
"That's the beauty of being a professor of geography, and that's why I love what I do so much," Hausladen said during an interview, which, ironically enough, was interrupted numerous times by students who were stopping by the veteran professor's office simply to visit and talk geography. "The teaching canvas for geography can be so broad and beautiful ... you can really make the subject come alive for your students."
Hausladen was as adept in writing and research as we he was in the classroom. He was author of several well-received books that ran the gamut from Russia to the sense of place in murder mysteries. His 2004 book, "Western Places, American Myths: How We Think About the West" received one of the most favorable reviews of the year by the Los Angeles Times' Book Section. Jonathan Kirsch, a regular contributor to the Times' Book Review Section, said that Hausladen's work was important, in that it helped define an essentially undefined West: "The point of this collection is to explore the different, often conflicting ideas, that arise when we utter the word 'West.'"
Hausladen's work outside of his classroom was also notable. He was a Fulbright Scholar, and established and served as the director of the Geography Alliance in Nevada (GAIN) to support K-12 teachers in the teaching of geography.
Hausladen is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marilyn, sons Theodore and Bradley, daughter Christina, and three grandchildren.