History prof in critical condition after stroke

Matthew Weber

History and religion Prof. John Hunwick was listed in critical but stable condition in the Evanston Hospital Intensive Care Unit Wednesday afternoon after suffering a mild stroke Tuesday morning in a university parking garage.

Hunwick, 63, was arriving to teach his Islam in Africa course and reported feeling dizzy as he stepped out of his car, said his wife, Uwa Hunwick.

An Evanston resident called University Police when he found Hunwick on the top level of the parking garage located at 1877 S. Campus Drive, said Lt. Richard Stampanato of UP. Both university officers and Evanston Fire and Safety Services responded. Hunwick was taken to Evanston Hospital by the fire department at about 10:45 a.m.

He was initially listed in fair condition and later moved to the ICU.

“He is absolutely conscious,” his wife said Wednesday evening.

The stroke affected Hunwick’s left leg and hand, although he had not lost movement in either, his wife said. He was expected to be held overnight for observation and re-evaluated by doctors this morning, his wife said.

Hunwick is currently teaching Islam in Africa, Islam in America and a graduate course.

“He is brilliant,” said Konstantin Dubrovsky, a Weinberg junior in Hunwick’s Islam Studies course. “He is one of those professors who has read everything. He lectures in an intellectually stimulating manner.”

Islam in Africa, taught through the history department, will not meet today, said Edward Muir, history department chairman. The status of Islam in America, which is taught through the religion department, and Hunwick’s graduate course were not known.

The history department was still discussing Wednesday how it would fill Hunwick’s place during his recovery, Muir said. There are no plans to permanently cancel any of the courses, he said.

It is unknown how long Hunwick will be absent.

Hunwick specializes in the study of Islam in Africa. He received his doctorate degree from the University of London in 1974.

“He is the most distinguished historian of Islamic Africa in the world,” Muir said. “Every historian in Africa knows him and admires him.”

Hunwick has taught at Northwestern since 1981. His most recent work has been a study of the history of Timbuktu, as well a new course guide, “Africans in Slavery and Freedom in the Mediterranean World.” He has also started a nine-volume work on Arabic literature in Africa.

Hunwick has won the National Endowment for the Humanities award as well as a Fulbright Research Fellowship at the University of Bergen in Norway.