The College mourns the loss of Rex Honey, Professor of Geography. "Rex epitomized the faculty member whose teaching, research, and service were focused on issues he was passionately committed to—social justice, international education, and human rights," said Marc Armstrong, chair of Geography. "He developed courses and led faculty seminars on these topics, and spoke frequently on these issues both at international conferences and in the Iowa City schools and other local venues."
Rex was a co-founder of the UI Center for Human Rights and helped to launch its new certificate program; he served as the Center's associate director from 1999 to 2006. He also served as director of the UI’s Crossing Borders Graduate Training Program (2006-10), the African Studies Program, and the Global Studies Program (now the BA Program in International Studies).
Professor Gregory Hamot, Director of the UI Human Rights Center, said, “Rex was intricately involved in many programs that served the university, the state, and the world. His students were devoted to him because of his unwavering dedication to their professional and personal growth. His many activities in Iowa and abroad with university students and with local teachers always looked to human rights as a critical aspect of a well-rounded education."
Rex served as Chair of the CLAS Faculty Assembly, and was an elected member of the CLAS Educational Policy Committee, where he made manifest his strong commitment to student success in undergraduate education. At the time of his death he was serving as director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Geography. He received the Outstanding Faculty Member Award from International Programs in 2008 and was recognized as Community Mentor by the Global Issues Network of Iowa City in 2004.
Rex’s lifetime research interest concerned the geographical organization of space for public administration. This work spanned the time from his papers on the United Kingdom’s reorganization of local government administration in the 1960s—the subject of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota—to a current project with the administrative reorganization of Iowa School Districts, which was work supported by the Iowa Department of Education.
His other recent research interests in political geography included grassroots political organizations and social identity in developing nations, universal standards and culturally specific conceptualizations of human rights, and state policy as a factor in development. He twice received Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards (1987 and 1991-92), and served as a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Leader in Nigeria in 1999. He served his profession as Chair of the Human Rights Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and Secretary of the International Geographical Union's Commission on Geography and Public Administration.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, October 28, at Lensing Funeral and Cremation Service, Iowa City. A reception will follow in the Kirkwood Room. Visitation will be Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home. Rex’s family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to the University of Iowa Foundation for the Center for Human Rights.