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Department of Classics
University of Mississippi

Mid-20th Century

The last Chair of the Department of Greek and the first Chair of the Department of Classics was Professor Alfred W. Milden. Dr. Milden was also Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1920 to 1936 and may have served from time to time as Acting Chancellor when Chancellor Alfred Hume and the Vice Chancellor were both absent from campus in the period from 1932 to 1935. He received his B.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. There he studied with the most famous and influential classicist of the day, Professor Basil Gildersleeve who is credited with transforming the study of classical philology modeling his methods on those he had learned while a student in Germany. (Gildersleeve was the son of a Presbyterian minister from South Carolina and had been educated at Virginia and Princeton prior to his graduate work in Germany.) Milden wrote “Ionia and Greek Colonization” in TAPA and The Limitations of the Predicative Position in Greek (Baltimore, 1899). He had taught at Emory and Henry College before coming to Mississippi.

The first woman faculty member, Dr. Evelyn Lee Way, rose from Instructor to become Chair. She began her career in 1931 teaching Latin and retired in 1972. Dr. Way was educated at Sweet Briar College and received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. To Dr. Way belongs the credit for selecting the university’s Latin motto: “Pro Scientia et Sapientia.”

William H. Willis was a native of Meridian, Mississippi and was the grandson of a Baptist minister. He received his B.A. from Mississippi College, an M.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Yale. Following the death of Professor Milden in 1944 and because of World War II, enrollments in Classics had dropped, so after the war Professor Willis was hired in 1946 to rebuild the program. Assisted by Dr. Way, Willis proceeded to expand the program and decided to emphasize classical archaeology. He energetically attended meetings of professional associations and interviewed many candidates for the position of classical archaeologist, but it was not until 1948 that his persistence and diligence was rewarded when he persuaded the internationally prominent Professor David M. Robinson who had recently retired from Johns Hopkins University to join the faculty of the University of Mississippi.

Willis was active as a member of the Mississippi Classical Association and the American Philological Association. In 1960-62 he served on the Executive Committee of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. In 1963, he assumed the senior editorship of the important classical journal Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies and transferred its headquarters from Harvard to Mississippi. Unfortunately this event coincided with divisive civil rights strife in Mississippi and Professor Willis left the University to become Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at Duke University.

Professor David Moore Robinson was the most eminent and most colorful classicist who ever taught in Mississippi. He brought with him a large collection of Greek and Roman art and artifacts as well as a considerable personal library. All of the books and the larger portion of his collection still reside in Mississippi though a substantial portion of the collection is now at the Sackler Museum at Harvard University and many coins are in the American Numismatic Society in New York.

Robinson was born in Auburn, NY and received his A.B. and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He also studied at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and in Berlin, Bonn and Halle. He spent most of his career at Hopkins, but also taught at Notre Dame College, Illinois College, Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Berkeley, UCLA, Syracuse, William and Mary, Western Reserve University, NYU and Kenyon. He excavated at Corinth, Sardis, Antioch in Pisidia and Olynthus. The bibliography of his published works takes up 11 pages in the giant two-volume festschrift which his students and distinguished scholars from around the world presented him on his 70th birthday in 1950. He served as editor of Classical Weekly, the American Journal of Philology, Art and Archaeology, Art Bulletin and the American Journal of Archaeology as well as Johns Hopkins Studies in Archaeology. His students included some of the most prominent American classicists and archaeologists of this century: William A. McDonald of Minnesota, Allan Chester Johnson of Princeton, George Mylonas of Washington University, Paul Clement of UCLA, J. Walter Graham of Toronto, Dorothy Kent Hill of the Walters Art Gallery, George Hanfmann of Harvard, Saul and Gladys Weinberg of Missouri, John H. Young of Hopkins and Richard Howland of the Smithsonian.
Professor David M. Robinson in the water tunnel of Olynthus

In conjunction with Professor Robinson’s arrival, the University became a contributing institution of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Robinson also established a local society of the Archaeological Institute of America and a few years later the University became associated with the American Academy in Rome.

In 1955, Dr. Alexander Cambitoglou was hired as a second professor of archaeology. Dr. Cambitoglou had received an M.A. from the University of Manchester and a Ph.D. from the University of London. He had studied with the most eminent scholar of Greek vases, Professor Sir John Beazley of Oxford University, and had already begun a distinguished career. In 1956, he was appointed as one of only four American members of the Committee on the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum and was invited to serve as director of the summer session of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. He was also engaged in excavating the important Athenian religious center Eleusis under the direction of Robinson’s student, Professor George Mylonas.

In 1957, Professor Robinson was awarded the Cross of the Royal Order of Phoenix by King Paul of Greece. Willis set up an archaeological fund and purchased numerous Greek and Coptic papyri and an important Coptic Codex. He was frequently invited to serve as visiting professor (at Texas, Colorado, Michigan and Oxford). The department received visits from numerous prominent scholars such as A. D. Trendall of the University of Sydney and Dietrich von Bothmer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Cambitoglou had distinguished himself to such an extent that he was offered a professorship at Bryn Mawr. He went on to have a distinguished career as vase painting expert at the University of Sydney, is the author of many books and articles and was honored with a festschrift edited by his frequent collaborator, A. D. Trendall.

Following the death of Professor Robinson in 1958, Dr. Jack Benson taught archaeology until his resignation in 1963. He had studied at the University of Missouri, Indiana University and the University of Basel and had excavated at Gordion and Cyprus. Benson had been a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1955 was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

In 1960 came the welcome news that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Peddle of Oxford were purchasing Mrs. Robinson’s share of the Robinson Collection and donating it to the University.

In 1961, Lucy Turnbull joined the faculty and took up the duties of the department’s classical archaeologist. Aside from teaching art history, archaeology, mythology and classical civilization courses, she was instrumental in planning the expansion of the University Museums. The Kate Skipwith Teaching Museum was to house the large and important collection of classical antiquities bequeathed to the University in the will of Professor Robinson, given by Mrs. Robinson and purchased through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Peddle from the estate of Mrs. Robinson. It also affords classroom and laboratory space for faculty and students. Professor Turnbull was educated at Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe. Her dissertation at Radcliffe, Some Aspects of Greek Geometric Bronzes, was supervised by Robinson’s student George Hanfmann. She had received museum experience at Wellesley College, the Corinth Museum, the Agora Museum in Athens and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She was both John Williams White Fellow and Charles Eliot Norton Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Professor Turnbull served for many years as Secretary of the Mississippi Society of the AIA and as a member of the Managing Committee of the American School at Athens. She is the author of many scholarly articles and contributions to books, chiefly in the fields of Greek vase painting, mythology and Greek poetry. She served as Chair of the Senate of the Faculty and in 1983 became Director of the University Museums, a post she held until 1990.

Richard P. Stewart received his education at Harvard and taught ancient history from 1961 to 1963 on a joint appointment in Classics and History, but, like Willis and Benson, he left Mississippi as a result of the civil rights strife of the early 1960s.

In 1964, Edward Capps III, who, like Waddel, is a scion of an academic dynasty (his grandfather was a distinguished Professor of Classics at Princeton and his father was a well-known Professor of Classical Art at Oberlin College) became Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin. Dr. Capps was educated at Swarthmore College and Yale and had taught at Emory University prior to his appointment in Mississippi. In 1968, he was promoted to Associate Professor. His scholarly interests are in Latin pedagogy and linguistics. From 1969 to 1972 he served as Vice-President for Mississippi in CAMWS. He retired in 2002 and was named Professor Emeritus.

After the retirement of Evelyn Way in 1972, Edwin Dolin was appointed Chair and Associate Professor of Greek and Latin. Dr. Dolin received his education at Harvard and had taught at Amherst, Berkeley and the University of California at San Diego. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of CAMWS, President of the Mississippi Society of the AIA and as a member of the Mississippi Committee for the Humanities. He is co-author of An Anthology of Greek Tragedy and numerous scholarly articles on Homer, Thucydides and the Greek tragedians. He has translated several Greek plays and participated in the production of Greek tragedies for the stage. Dr. Dolin served for two terms as Chair and two terms as Secretary of the Senate of the Faculty. He retired and was named Professor Emeritus in June, 1994.