The Catholic University of America

Oct. 12, 2006

How to Honor a Scholar

Professor Kenneth Pennington Receives a Festschrift on His 65th Birthday
Ken Pennington stands to receive the Festschrift presented to him in Sicily. Seated from left are law Professor Peter Landau of the University of Munich, law Professor Manlio Bellomo of the University of Catania, Italy, and history Professor James Brundage of the University of Kansas.

How do you honor a scholar who has been one of the leading figures in his field for decades and who has mentored a couple generations of younger scholars? In academia, the answer to that question is: Present the scholar with a Festschrift, i.e., an anthology of new scholarly essays written in his or her honor. It's a big moment for a scholar, and it's an honor that Kenneth Pennington, CUA's Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History, received on his 65th birthday, Oct. 6, 2006, in Erice, Sicily, at an annual international school on medieval law that he has co-directed since 1993.

Derived from the German, the word Festschrift translates to "celebratory writing," and the essays in such a book tend to be on a topic that the honoree himself has specialized in. The book that Pennington received on his birthday is titled Medieval Church Law and the Origins of the Western Legal Tradition: A Tribute to Kenneth Pennington, edited by his former students Wolfgang P. Müller and Mary E. Sommar, who are now professors at Fordham University and the Stephan Kuttner Insititute of Medieval Canon Law in Munich, Germany, respectively. The book is published by the Catholic University of America Press.

"Arguably the premier figure in the United States in the field of the history of canon, or Church, law, Ken Pennington is also widely known and respected as one of the foremost authorities in Europe," write Sommar and Müller. "Ken was clearly very grateful and deeply moved, not only by the Festschrift itself, but also by the fact that many of the contributors to the collection had traveled from all over Europe and the U.S. for the sole purpose that they might be a part of the presentation ceremony."

The 26 essays in the 400-page hardcover show Pennington's international influence, as some are written in English and others in German, Italian, French and Spanish.

Professor Pennington teaches in three schools within The Catholic University of America: the Columbus School of Law, the School of Canon Law and the School of Theology and Religious Studies.


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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,