Edward M. Wakin, Ph.D., (FCRH, ’48, GSAS, ’73) a communications professor at Fordham for more than four decades and the author of more than 20 books, died Nov. 13.
Wakin, who was 81, suffered from Parkinson’s-related dementia, and died at the Linda Manor nursing home in Northampton, Mass.
Wakin’s connection to Fordham was long and varied. He first ventured on to the Rose Hill campus as an undergraduate, making the commute from Brooklyn. After graduating in 1948 with a B.A. in English Literature, Wakin earned a M.A. in Journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University in 1950, and went on to work at the Buffalo Evening News, the New York World Telegram and Sun and the Wall Street Journal.
In the 1950s, Wakin and his then-wife traveled extensively in the Middle East, where he wrote articles for the Scripps-Howard News Service. He also wrote for Harper’s, Saturday Review, Catholic Digest, The Christian Century, American Way and Beyond Computing magazines.
In an obituary for his father, Daniel Wakin, a reporter for the New York Times, wrote that A Lonely Minority: The Modern Story of Egypt’s Cops (William Morrow & Company, 1963) was arguably Edward’s most important book.
“The Copts, the largest Christian community in the Arab world, were a sensitive subject in Gamal Abdul Nasser’s Egypt, and Mr. Wakin said he had to smuggle his notes out of the country hidden in his luggage,” Daniel Wakin wrote. “Even 40 years later, Egyptian Copts would contact Mr. Wakin in appreciation of the book.”
Wakin also wrote or co-wrote books about Irish immigrants, African-American soldiers in American history, the impact of television and photographs on American culture, Christian parenting and morality.
He returned to Fordham in 1954 as an adjunct professor of communications, and became full-time faculty member in 1960, the same year he earned an M.A. in sociology at Columbia University. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Fordham in 1973. He taught journalism classes, including magazine writing, until 2002, when he retired as professor emeritus. He was also responsible for launching one of Fordham’s first internship programs.
In an oral history of the department in 1990, he said, “The media represent a small village in the sense that everybody in the media knows everyone else. When you go to work in the media, you are joining a very small population that operates on a face-to-face basis. When I came to Fordham out of that world, I introduced that awareness to the students: Everybody is going to know you and you are going to know everyone else as soon as you begin working.”
Of his students, he wrote: “Seeing them years later as professionals rather than students, I’m struck by the humanity they display, by their sense of humor, and by their feeling that they shared a Fordham experience that pointed them in the direction they wanted to go.”
Wakin is survived by his son Daniel, his wife Eleanor Kester and his grandchildren, Thomas and Michael.