SFSU Public Affairs Press ReleasePublished by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
SAN FRANCISCO, January 4, 2000---Jacques L Hymans, an innovative and popular professor at San Francisco State University for more than three decades, died of heart failure Dec. 29, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He was 62 years of age.
His classes on world history, European imperialism and ancient African civilizations were among the most popular in the history department at S.F. State. Hymans, who served for more than 20 years as faculty advisor to the honors society for history students, consistently won university-wide teaching awards at S.F. State. To help history come alive in his classes, Hymans encouraged students to borrow costumes from the university's costume shop to dress up as historical figures to present reports. He also had been president and secretary for the university's Phi Beta Kappa chapter and had received an award for distinguished service earlier this year.
Hymans was a pioneer teacher and researcher in the academic field of African history. "Jacques Hymans was not only an expert on the history of Africa, he was a force of nature," said Jerald A. Combs, chair of the history department at SFSU. "He was the most energetic and enthusiastic teacher I have ever met. He was also one of the kindest. His passing leaves an immense hole in the department and the university."
Hymans, who grew up in San Francisco and earned his bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 1958, received his doctorate in history in 1964 from the University of Paris. His doctoral thesis was later published as the book "Leopold Sedar Senghor: An Intellectual Biography," which was one of the earliest serious academic treatments of a major African political thinker. His major research interest throughout his career remained the life and thoughts of the poet-president Senghor, the first president of Senegal. Hymans often told colleagues that Senghor called him his "white shadow."
Hymans taught at Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the S.F. State faculty in 1968. Previously, he served as a professor of African history at Lovanium University in the Congo (Zaire) from 1966-1968 under an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
In recent years, Hymans had become an advocate of the use of new media in historical scholarship. He worked with a group of students to produce a short documentary video on the life of Senghor titled "A Bridge of Sweetness" and presented it at a recent meeting of the World History Association.
Hymans also served on the board of the Lowell High School Alumni Association.
Survivors include Hymans' wife, Myrna; his son, Jacques; and his brother, Herbert.
Donations may be made to the Lowell High School Alumni Association, 1101 Eucalyptus Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 8, 2000, at 2:00 pm at SFSU's Seven Hills Center.
SFSU, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132
Last modified April 24, 2007 by Office of Public Affairs