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Faculty Honored for Commitment to Emerson

Six faculty members were honored for a combined 150 years of service and scholarship at Emerson College, while two retiring members were given heartfelt send-offs at a Faculty Appreciation Reception on September 28.

Associate Professor Jonathan Aaron of the Writing, Literature and Publishing Department has retired after 28 years at Emerson; and Associate Professor John Anderson of the Communication Studies Department has retired after 27 years.

School of the Arts Dean Rob Sabal said Aaron—who directed “innumerable” senior BFA theses in poetry and was published in a number of journals, including The Best of American Poetry anthology and The Best of the Best of American Poetry collection—is well known as a dog lover.

“What they don’t know is what MacArthur Genius Grant winner Allen Grossman said—that [Aaron] has written the best poem in the English language on the subject of fire hydrants,” Sabal said to laughter.

Aaron could not make the reception, which was minus a number of presenters and honorees due to a combination of viruses and travel plans.

Anderson was on hand to hear School of Communication Dean Raul Reis read a long list of accolades from colleagues.

Anderson, who directed the Honors Program at one time, is well known for his performances of notable authors, including Henry James, William Faulkner, and Washington Irving.

Former School of Communication Dean Phillip Glenn wrote that Anderson was an “excellent instructor,” and Communication Studies Chair Gregory Payne wrote that Emerson “[is] a better college because of John.” Michael Weiler, associate professor of Communication Studies, who also spoke about Anderson at the event, wrote that Anderson is a “person of great kindness and integrity.”

Anderson said when he saw Emerson was looking for someone to teach at the School of Communication 27 years ago, he thought, “That’s certainly the lodestar of performance studies.”

He thanked a number of Emersonians past and present, including Communication Studies professors Kenneth Crannell and Walter Littlefield, both of whom recently died; the faculty union; Payne; and Diego Salazar, administrative associate for the School of Communication.


Journalism Professor Janet Kolodzy commended her colleague Associate Professor Melinda Robins for 20 years at Emerson. Robins, also the graduate program director, could not be at the reception because she was traveling for work.

“It’s kind of maybe an example of Melinda, you know, she’s always out there doing stuff,” said Kolodzy, who called Robins—whose interest lies in media in developing countries—the “department scholar.”

“That’s Melinda, she’s the kind of person who just gets things done.”

Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor Tom Kingdon, filling in for department chair Brooke Knight, honored three of his VMA colleagues: Donald Fry (30 years), Michael Selig (30 years), and James Sheldon (20 years).

Kingdon acknowledged the vast number of students Fry has mentored and said, “his integrity and seriousness drew me to Emerson.”

Selig maintained high standards and received glowing reviews from his students, was a “tireless advocate for faculty,” and was an excellent department chair during his stint, Kingdon said.

“People have just been so dedicated to the enterprise of Emerson and educating students and trying to do things the right way,” Selig said.

Sheldon was called a “passionate” teacher who is credited with creating the College’s new media program.

“It’s really been extraordinary to be here for 20 years, to be at an institution every day where you come here and you know it’s about teaching the students,” Sheldon said.

Provost Michaele Whelan, emcee for the evening, stood in for Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies Dean Amy Ansell when it came time to honor senior affiliated faculty member Jacqueline Romeo MA '95 for her 20 years of service.

Romeo has a knack for developing new and interesting courses, she said. “We’ve been the lucky beneficiaries of her intellect.”

Aleksander Wierzbicki '78, senior affiliated faculty member in the Communication Studies Department, “really epitomizes the essence of performance and oral interpretation,” Payne said.

“We hope he’ll be around another 30 years,” he said.

Whelan offered some closing remarks for herself and President Lee Pelton, who was stuck circling Logan Airport on a flight from Los Angeles and arrived late.

“It’s clear to me that we are not just preparing students for their next career, we’re not just inculcating critical thinking or fostering new habits of mind,” Whelan said. “We’re ultimately shaping students’ values; we’re educating the whole person and equipping them to change the world for the better.”

Before the ceremony kicked off, Emerson a cappella singers performed the alma mater, as well as a new Emerson spirit song.

The event was hosted by the Office of Academic Affairs and the Spirit of Emerson, and was held in the Bordy Theater.

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