Professor of Political Science and International Relations set to retire
by Nathaniel Miller
Larry Hufford, Ph.D., jokes that he’s been teaching longer than most of the philosophers he references in his lectures.
He is also quick to point out he is not looking to leave a legacy in the history books. Instead, the Professor of Political Science and International Relations spent his final lecture on April 29, talking about his beginnings in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Ohio and eventually earning his doctorate from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
He touched on his past work as a community organizer and defined himself as a social justice activist. He mentioned how the future of American democracy is being threatened but can be saved by forming political friendships.
With more than 50 years of teaching, Hufford said he hopes the one thing he’s remembered for is how he is as a person.
“What will I leave behind? I hope I leave them my values,” Hufford said.
There’s no doubt Hufford’s legacy at St. Mary’s University has left an impact on students and coworkers, as the crowd in the University Center’s Conference Room B was standing room only, filled with current and former students, as well as family members, to honor his decades of teaching.
After starting his teaching career in 1967 at Texas A&I University in Kingsville (later renamed Texas A&M University-Kingsville), Hufford joined the faculty at then Incarnate Word College for 20 years before joining St. Mary’s in 1993.
Hufford also worked with the United Farm Workers during the Talisman Sugar Company strike in 1972 and joined Volunteers in Service to America in Robstown, Texas. The anti-poverty program, now known as AmeriCorps VISTA, assisted underprivileged communities through educational programs and vocational training.
“I get my high off student success. That’s what it’s always been about for me. Teaching at a university like St. Mary’s enables you to get to know students as human beings, not numbers.Larry Hufford, Ph.D.
Hufford is known for his world travel and dedication to social causes. He was awarded the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 1997 and 2002 and the Marianist Heritage Award in 2005.
In service to his community, Hufford was also the chair of the City of San Antonio’s City Land Use and Transportation Committee, the chair of the research task force for the city’s Community Revitalization Action Group and others.
Even recalling those awards and appointments, Hufford said his real accomplishments lie with the students he has encountered over the years.
“I get my high off student success,” Hufford said. “That’s what it’s always been about for me. Teaching at a university like St. Mary’s enables you to get to know students as human beings, not numbers.”
When Fabiana Pineda (B.A. ’16) first came to St. Mary’s from Honduras, she said Hufford went out of his way to follow up with her knowing she was new to the United States and would talk with her about her home. As she got further in her collegiate career, Pineda also became a research assistant for Hufford.
After she graduated from St. Mary’s, Hufford encouraged Pineda to pursue her studies in international relations after she returned to Honduras for work. She recently obtained a Master of Science degree in International Development and Management at Lund University in Sweden.
“As a professor, he prioritizes personal growth for his students,” Pineda said. “That’s one of the things that not only makes him a great professor, but also a great mentor.”
Eric Delgado, a senior Psychology major scheduled to graduate this month, said Hufford presented topics in an approachable way that not only engaged the class, but allowed students to form their own opinions.
This approach, Delgado added, helped him become a better critical thinker.
“He was also trusting of his students to do that work,” Delgado said. “He definitely had an impact on how I developed as a professional.”
Aracely Ortiz, a senior Biology major who was also in attendance for Hufford’s final lecture, said she sympathized with future students who will not be able to take a course with Hufford.
“He has so much wisdom to give,” Ortiz said.