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A Rich addition

L.E. Rich joins ‘The Colorado Statesman’s’ staff

By Alan Smithee

“Playwright Oscar Wilde wrote in The Critic as Artist, ‘Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.’ I really wish someone would have told me that before I spent 11 years in college,” quips L.E. Rich, Ph.D., the latest addition to The Colorado Statesman’s staff as director of special projects.

Rich, a Denver native and longtime newspaper aficionado, joins The Statesman as an escapee from the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Arizona, where she received a doctorate in health and behavioral sciences and a master’s degree in cultural and medical anthropology.

“I’m excited to work as the director of special projects for The Statesman. It will allow me to carry on the tradition of my parents not knowing what it is I exactly do,” Rich says. “Most people ask, when I explain that I am a medical anthropologist, whether I dig up dead people. Not exactly. But I’m quick to point out that if I am digging up people, I certainly hope they are dead.”

And the world, particularly potential employers, Rich adds, is even more puzzled by the degree in “health and behavioral sciences.”

“I often explain it as an interdisciplinary public health program. Like that makes it more tangible!”

Though some may wonder what Rich is doing in the newspaper business in general and working for a political rag in particular, she says The Statesman “is a good fit. I based my dissertation research on more than 130 years of judicial opinions that involved decision-making authority over bodies and body parts. Now, I’d like to dive into the legislative side of things. What was it that Mark Twain said—‘that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress’? I don’t see members of our legislatures as criminals, per se, what but an interesting lot of research subjects!”

Despite being a career college co-ed, Rich has worked for a newspaper in some vein or another since she was 15.

“I started at The Union Street Journal at, yes, Cherry Creek High School, when an English teacher of mine—who ironically disliked my writing—coerced several of us into joining the newspaper for which she was the faculty sponsor. She needed bodies to take up staff space, but I developed a perverse love of newsprint.”

Rich also has worked as a staffer for the Tucson Weekly, the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the Intermountain Jewish News, the CU-Denver Advocate, The Moscow Times, and The Russia Business Review and as a freelancer for Boston’s Weekly Dig and the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology. She is currently a book reviewer for the Rocky Mountain News and the Tucson Weekly.

This April, Rich was inducted as the vice president of the Colorado Press Women. She is also a member of the National Federation of Press Women, the National Association of Science Writers, the American Medical Writers Association, and the Denver Press Club.

“Though I have always worked two jobs—one in health research and one in journalism—I recently realized I am happiest when I’m working for a newspaper. I’m sure The Statesman will beat that out of me,” Rich laughs.

Before having gone AWOL from graduate school, Rich managed a stint as a professor of anthropology at the International College at Moscow in Russia. Additionally, she has held research assistantships with the Centers for Disease Control’s Community Guide to Prevention, the Center for Research in the Health and Behavioral Sciences, the Denver STD/HIV Prevention Training Center, the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and the departments of anthropology at the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado at Denver.

She is also the author of an original play, Le Bateau, produced as a fundraiser for the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth in 1993.

After too many years, Rich finally finished her Ph.D. this May, when she defended her dissertation, “Rolling the Bones: Decisional Law and the Risks of Treating the Body as Property.” In 1997, she wrote her master’s thesis on cigar smoking.

Though she eventually plans to work in health policy at the national level, “Really,” she admits, “I aspire to be Hildy Johnson. Fast talker, smart dresser, true newspaperman.”

But Rich confesses her academic colleagues and mentors haven’t quite figured out this perplexing desire to be a member of the press.

“‘So I became a newspaperman?’” Rich shrugs her shoulders, borrowing an unverified quote often attributed to Twain. “‘I hated to do it, but I couldn’t find honest employment.’” 

Smithee, A. (2004, July 9). A Rich addition: L.E. Rich joins ‘The Colorado Statesman’s’ staff. The Colorado Statesman.

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