Richard Chambers, a retired professor of Turkish and Ottoman history and language at the University of Chicago, died Aug. 1, 2016. He was 86.

Chambers graduated with a bachelor’s degree in diplomatic and Middle Eastern history from the University of Alabama in 1950. He then earned a bachelor of science degree from the Georgetown Foreign Service School. In 1955, he earned a master’s degree in history from Alabama. In 1958, he earned another master’s degree in history from Princeton, followed by a Ph.D. in 1968.

Chambers started teaching in 1958 at the American University in Cairo. In 1962, he became an instructor at the University of Chicago, followed by promotions to assistant professor in 1965 and associate professor in 1971. He taught Turkish and Ottoman history and language as an associate professor until retiring in 1995.

He initiated the teaching of these subjects at Chicago and built up the Turkish studies program with distinguished visiting professorships and other hirings. He directed Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies from 1985 to 1988, and twice was acting director. While not a prolific author, his published work had a very important impact on the field.

Chambers’ academic career paralleled the development of Middle Eastern and Turkish studies in the U.S., to which he had made important contributions.

Graduate memorials are prepared by the APGA.

Class Year: 
Graduate Class of 1968

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