Mary Pickering in her office surrounded by books.

2011 President’s Scholar: Mary Pickering, professor of history.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Student Assistant

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performances or creative activities.

Mary Pickering, professor of history, says that her passion for learning is profound and lifelong and that she is always eager to explore a deeper knowledge that she can bring back to her classroom and research. Her desire to leave no stone unturned has earned her the 2010-2011 President’s Scholar Award.

“Pickering’s influential scholarship has gained for her widespread admiration among peers in Europe and the Americas, whether historians, sociologists or philosophers. It attracts the very best of our students too,” said one nominator.

Her intensive research includes over forty articles, papers and reviews, and a three-volume published biography of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the founder of modern sociology and a philosophical movement called positivism. In addition, Pickering has published in the Revue philosophique, Revue internationale de philosophie, French Historical Studies, Historical Reflections, Journal of Women’s History and the Journal of the History of Ideas.

Admirers around the world have referred to her expertise in research. She says the impact of her work is due, in part, to connecting Comte’s personal and intellectual evolution to the leading ideas of his time and his social and political context. According to a peer, Pickering brings “order and clarity to an unruly, often obscure mass of archival and published work.”

Pickering’s work clearly has made a considerable contribution to multiple disciplines—and is an example of how dedication and scholarship thrive at San Jose State.

“The way you excel as a teacher is to keep growing as scholar,” says Pickering. “I also enjoy learning in the courses I teach and incorporating that knowledge into my books.”

Pickering earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and a Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po). Selected honors and awards include Who’s Who Among America Teachers (1998, 2004, 2005) and SJSU Warburton Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in History (2010).