University News

Hurh Graduate Thesis Award in Sociology Established

November 14, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- The Dr. Won M. Hurh Graduate Thesis Award in Sociology has been established at Western Illinois University by Hurh's family and friends to honor his life and his memory.

"Dr. Hurh was a meticulous academic, and felt strongly about the thesis option," Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair John F. Wozniak said. "Not only does this award encourage graduate students to pursue the thesis option, it honors the outstanding nature of Dr. Hurh and his own scholarly activity."

Hurh was born in Jochiwon, Korea in 1932. Beginning in 1951, he served as a South Korean artillery officer in the Korean War, fighting alongside the U.S. Army until the cease-fire. He continued in the Army until 1958. Hurh received his bachelor's degree in economics from Monmouth College and a Ph.D. in sociology and ethnology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. After teaching in Illinois, Korea and Texas, Hurh was appointed as a professor at WIU, where he taught and conducted research for 29 years, becoming one of America's leading scholars in Korean American immigration. He died April 12, 2013.

In the course of his career, Hurh was the principal investigator for two major research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health that focused on Korean immigrants' mental health and stages of adaptation. He published five single-authored books, including "Personality in Culture & Society" and "I Will Shoot Them From My Loving Heart, Memoir of a South Korean Officer in the Korean War;" and two co-authored books (with Dr. Kwang C. Kim). He also published more than 40 articles (both jointly and solely), numerous book reviews, and made 65 presentations. Hurh was fluent in four languages: Korean, English, German and Japanese. In 1999, he was chosen to be WIU's Distinguished Faculty Lecturer on its Centennial, and delivered the address "Multicultural America: New Challenges for the New Century."

War taught Hurh that all life is precious and should be respected. His scholarship revealed his deep commitment to cross-cultural understanding and the important value of research. The Won Moo Hurh Graduate Thesis Award in Sociology is a monetary recognition of $1,000 to be made yearly upon the completion, or near completion, of graduate studies after a thesis has been written and approved. Special consideration will be given for excellence in theory and methodology.

"Our family hopes that this award will carry on Won's legacy of research and his commitment to his students and his discipline," said Gloria, his wife of 49 years. "We are pleased to endow the award and assist the department."

Information and applications for the Dr. Won M. Hurh Graduate Thesis Award in Sociology are available in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, 404 Morgan Hall, 309-298-1056,

Posted By: Julie Murphy, WIU Foundation (
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