West Virginia Statesman, Author Ken Hechler ’35 dies at 102

December 12th, 2016
Swarthmore News and Information

Washington Post: Ken Hechler, W.Va. congressman and author of ‘Bridge at Remagen,’ dies at 102

Ken Hechler '35

Ken Hechler, an urbane historian who carpetbagged his way into West Virginia’s gritty politics, where he battled destructive coal-industry practices, unsafe mining conditions and felonious county officials, died Dec. 10 at his home in Romney, W.Va. He was 102. …

During 18 years as a Democratic congressman, 16 more as West Virginia secretary of state, and a final act as a do-gooder without portfolio, Dr. Hechler never tired of crusades.

“I used to be an agitator, then an activist,” he wrote at age 94, in 2009. “Now I am a hellraiser.” This was soon after he was arrested while protesting mountaintop removal.

Read the full article.

In 2001, Hechler received an honorary degree from Swarthmore. He sang his acceptance speech to the tune of the College’s alma mater, which he rewrote for the occasion (lyrics below). Hechler last spoke on campus in 2011 about mountaintop removal coal mining and the struggles of Appalachian communities to stop the practice.

As we leave old Swarthmore College
and this campus fair;
Join the fight for racial justice,
show the world you care!

You will be remembered one day,
not for wealth or power;
But your work for all the people,
that’s your finest hour.

There’s a need for more crusaders,
give your heart and soul;
Fight against the special interests,
that should be your goal.

We must get along together,
with all peoples too;
Differences should be respected,
and their points of view.

Mother Earth needs conservation,
can’t you hear her cry?
We must work for preservation,
or the earth will die.

Peace and freedom for all nations;
feed and house the poor.
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater;
Hail, All Hail, Swarthmore!

Dr. Sa’ed Atshan takes up tenure track position in Swarthmore’s Peace and Conflict Studies program

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Sa’ed Atshan’s visiting position in the Peace and Conflict Studies program has been converted into the program’s first full-time tenure-track position.

In his first year-and-a-half at the College, Prof. Atshan has made a tremendous impact both in the program and at the College. His dynamic teaching has drawn students across all cohorts into new and regular courses:

  • PEAC 003 Crisis Resolution in the Middle East
  • PEAC 015 Introduction to Peace and Conflict
  • PEAC 023 First Year Seminar: Global Responses to Violence
  • PEAC 043 Gender, Sexuality, and Social Change
  • PEAC 053 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • PEAC 103 Humanitarianism: Anthropological Approaches

Dr. Atshan has also provided important programming. He has brought a steady stream of outstanding speakers and sponsored two film festivals in conjunction with his Israeli-Palestinian Conflict course. That course also includes an exceptional 10-day trip to the region.

Sa'ed Atshan

Dr. Atshan graduated from Harvard University in 2013 with a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies. He holds an M.A. in Social Anthropology from Harvard, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Swarthmore College. Before taking up a visiting position last year, Prof. Atshan held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

While a graduate student, regularly taught “Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies” in the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Tufts University, where he also taught courses on “The Arab Spring and Nonviolent Strategic Action” and “Gender, Sexuality, and Human Rights in the Middle East.”

Dr. Atshan designed and taught courses at Harvard and Brown on social movements in  the Middle East and the Arab Spring, among other topics. He earned four of Harvard’s excellence in undergraduate teaching awards along the way.

Sa’ed has been the recipient of multiple awards and fellowships from important organizations that include the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, and in 2009, he was awarded a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace.

In addition to his work on humanitarian politics and aid intervention, Atshan has conducted research into nonviolent Israeli and Palestinian social movements, countering old characterizations of nonviolence as foreign to the region. Instead he discovers and reveals “co-resistance” or coalition and joint struggles for social justice between Israeli and Palestinian activists.

Professor Atshan has worked with a range of organizations that include Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Seeds of Peace International Camp, the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department, and Medical Aid for Palestinians, all indicating his commitment to the practical pursuit of peace and justice to which our field aspires.

The creation of Prof. Atshan’s position is truly a historic moment for the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and for Swarthmore College, where the first peace studies course in higher education was taught in 1888.

PCS 125 logo thumbnail