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In memoriam

MSU Denver mourns the loss of Amy Eckert, Ph.D., professor of Political Science.

By Lindsey Coulter

August 4, 2020

Amy EckertAmy Eckert, Ph.D., professor of Political Science, died last week, leaving behind a large community of family, friends and colleagues as well as numerous academic contributions to the fields of international relations, ethics and law. Members of the campus community are invited to remember Eckert in a celebration of life gathering today at 7 p.m. in the 9th Street Park.

“We’ve lost a dear friend and an incredible asset to the department,” said Robert Preuhs, Ph.D., chair, Political Science. “Combining a dedication to teaching, research and service, Amy Eckert exemplified the teacher-scholar tradition at MSU Denver.”

Eckert also was a constant innovator, developing new courses to provide students with the best possible education and advancing her field of research. “In all her endeavors, her mission was to elevate students’ exposure to the intellectual side of University life, and she did so remarkably,” Preuhs added.

A devoted educator and researcher, Eckert focused on international relations, particularly international ethics and international law, including the just-war tradition as it applies to the new realities of privatized war. To many of her students, she was a profound mentor. She encouraged Roadrunners to participate in professional conferences and guided them in the process of presenting their research on the ethics of ending wars. 

“In a nutshell, Dr. Eckert exemplified the MSU Denver tradition by engaging students in important topics of civic life within a strong scholarly tradition,” Preuhs said.

Eckert’s impact went well beyond campus. She served as president of the International Studies Association-West and president of the International Ethics Section of the ISA, and she was recently selected to serve on the board of directors of the Women’s Caucus of the ISA. She was the recent recipient of the ISA-West’s Ole R. Holsti Distinguished Scholar Award and in 2016 published “Outsourcing War: The Just War Tradition in the Age of Military Privatization,” which looked at the growing role of private military companies and how their involvement in armed conflict changes our view of war. She spoke about this research and her broader work on international ethics and law at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she delivered the Reich Lecture on War, Morality and the Military Profession, and at Villanova University, where she gave a keynote address at the Fifth Annual Ethics of War and Peace Conference.

Eckert was also a longtime supporter of Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats in Syria. Every year on her birthday, she threw a party for neighborhood children and a fundraiser for the sanctuary. Colleague and friend Sheila Rucki, Ph.D., professor, Political Science, noted that this year, Facebook shut down Eckert’s fundraising page because the donations were going to a Syrian organization. In turn, she began collecting donations on PayPal and working with connections in Europe to get the funds to the sanctuary.

“This is so Amy,” Rucki said. “She was single-minded in getting to her goals; something as inconsequential as the State Department was not going to get in her way to provide for those cats stuck in a war zone and the people who are dedicated to trying to keep them safe. It was the nexus of her love for cats, her strong ethical positions on justice and the use of force and her impish sense of humor.”

Eckert studied government and international studies at the University of Notre Dame, graduating cum laude, before earning her J.D. at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. She later completed her doctorate with distinction at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Please note that all attendees for Eckert’s memorial celebration this evening are required to follow the health and safety protocols outlined on the Safe Return to Campus webpage.

Friends and colleagues who would like to share their condolences with Eckert’s family can also contact Preuhs for more information.

Topics: Academics, Community

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