Faculty Members Retire as Emeriti
its May meeting, the College's board of trustees approved emeritus
status for three retiring faculty members: Michael Burns, professor
of history; Jeanne Brownlow, senior lecturer in Spanish; and Viktoria
Schweitzer, lecturer in Russian and Eurasian studies.
Michael Burns taught
and wrote on many areas of modern and contemporary European civilization
during his twenty-two years in Mount Holyoke's history department.
He also won awards for the French and English editions of his
book France and the Dreyfus Affair: A Documentary History
(Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1999) and earned praise for clear,
riveting lectures, which one listener described as, "like
listening to Demosthenes in a very small room." Burns's retirement
actually marks the end of two distinguished careers, as Burns
is also well known for a twenty-year career in television, especially
for the role of Barnaby West on Wagon Train, a western weekly
that ran from 1957 to 1965.
Carole Straw makes note of Burns's "capacious mind"
and "notorious optimism and charm," qualities that are
evident, she says, in the title of his forthcoming narrative history,
This Side of Paradise: A Global History of 19001950,
to be published in W. W. Norton's Global Century series. Straw
also alludes to Burns's gracious civility, about which department
chair Harold Garrett-Goodyear said, "My colleagues and I
shall miss not only Michael's always intelligent and penetrating
analyses of issues, but also his invariably gracious manner in
our discussions, discussions of sometimes highly contentious choices
and decisions. He kept us mindful that civility' was not
simply a nice addition to serious debate, but a core ingredient
of responsible and productive collegial decision making."
Now living in Danville,
Kentucky, Burns will keep busy with Cambus-Kenneth, a 540-acre
cattle and thoroughbred horse farm listed on the National Register
of Historic Places. He is a member of the board of directors of
the Bluegrass Conservancy, and with his wife, Elizabeth Topham
Kennan '60, MHC's sixteenth president, he has recently completed
restoration of the farm's main house, a project that was awarded
Kentucky's annual Preservation Project Award for Historic Restoration.
Jeanne P. Brownlow
Jeanne P. Brownlow
M.A. '81 retires from Mount Holyoke's Spanish department after
twenty-three years of "inspiring generations of students
to love and understand the literature of Spain," writes Alberto
Castilla, professor of Spanish and chair of the Spanish department.
"Her accomplishments in teaching, service, and scholarship
as well as her long-standing dedication to the department and
to Mount Holyoke were exemplary," he said. "Her personal
qualities are equally outstanding. Jeanne Brownlow is liked and
respected by everyone. She will be missed."
Brownlow came to the
College in 1979, starting in the Spanish department as a secretary,
and quickly finding her way into the classroom as a master's student
and teacher. She gradually earned a doctorate at the University
of Massachusetts and ultimately found herself teaching the very
courses she had taken at Mount Holyoke. "I just took each
step as it came," she said, "taking on each challenge
to see if I could."
In addition to teaching
Spanish language and literature at all levels, Brownlow helped
revise the Spanish curriculum at Mount Holyoke and represented
the College on the Five College organizing committee for the National
Forum on the Future of the Spanish Departments. She edited books
on Spanish literature, published essays in professional reviews
of national and international repute, and was invited to present
papers and chair conference sessions at national and international
congresses. Her awards include a fellowship from the National
Endowment for the Humanities and the NEH Fellowship for College
Brownlow has no shortage
of retirement plans. Her long list of what she calls "little
projects" includes finishing a book on Spanish novelist Pérez
Galdós, teaching English to adult immigrants in Springfield,
helping first-time criminal offenders repay their social debts
through the Greenfield court program Reinventing Justice, traveling
abroad, and reading "a tremendous amount."
retires after twenty-two years in Mount Holyoke's Russian and
Eurasian studies department, where, writes Professor Edwina Cruise,
"through her engaged and engaging questions to students about
their lives and aspirations, she has artfully endowed them with
the courage to make the frightening leap into the Russian language
and to revel in its linguistic power."
In addition to teaching,
Schweitzer gained an international reputation for her scholarship,
most notably her work on the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, one
of many nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers absent from
the curriculum of communist Russia. Schweitzer's work on Tsvetaeva,
which began in 1954 with the collection of rare and archival materials,
resulted in Bytie Mariny Tsvetaevoi, a groundbreaking biography
first published in Paris in 1988 and eventually published in two
different Russian editions and in English, Dutch, Italian, and
Swedish translations. This year, Schweitzer completed a major
expansion of that biography based on new materials.
Enriching the Mount
Holyoke community with what Cruise calls "an encyclopedic
knowledge of Russian culture" and "long, thoughtful,
tea-drinking conversations that are the heart of Russian intelligentsia
culture," Schweitzer also contributed much to the cultural
development of her native Russia. Most notably, she organized
in 1966 the "Letter of Sixty-Three," in which sixty-three
prominent Russian and Soviet writers expressed opposition to the
government's arrest and persecution of dissident writer Andrei
Sinyavsky. This letter, for which Schweitzer was fired from her
job at the Union of Soviet Writers, was a watershed in the Soviet
dissident movement, contributing to the underground society that
would emerge into the open twenty years later.
plans include transcribing and publishing the memoirs of her late
husband, Mikhail Nikolaev, whom she met in 1968 after he had served
a fifteen-year prison term for opposing the Soviet government.