The Flory-Freiert Fellowship
Department of Classics
Two years ago, recent classics alumna Liliana Payne ’03 offered to paint a giant mural on the wall of our classics common room. It was her way of giving back to the department. Ever since, the Parthenon glimpsed through our doorway draws in passersby to admire this majestic trompe l’oeil.
But Liliana is not unusual in this regard. We are constantly amazed by the range of talents and interests that our students bring to the study of the ancient world. They pursue their passions in art and archaeology, history and culture, language and literature. They develop the analytical skills honed in the rigorous study of Latin and Greek and combine this with the flexibility of mind that comes with the interdisciplinary nature of classics. And then they show us, in a wonderful variety of ways, how a classical liberal arts education is lived out in daily life.
How did we get to this point? How did the department, faculty and students together, develop a national reputation for excellence as “one of the country’s fine small-college classics departments”? Thanks must first be given to the four classicists who built the program from the ground up and who, between them, have devoted 120 years to Gustavus: Marleen Flory, Stewart Flory, Patricia Freiert, and William Freiert. Scholars of international stature, who have won prestigious fellowships, published books, and won awards for outstanding teaching, service, and scholarship, their focus has nevertheless always students. And their influence continues in the close community that all of us in the classics family—majors, alumni, and faculty alike—share in and appreciate.
The approaching retirement of Will Freiert is a fitting time for us to honor all four of them—not with a triumphal arch or other mark of public display, but in a way that is true to their selflessness and their commitment to their students. The fellowship that we are creating in their honor will meet an urgent need among our students.
Our program attracts some of the most intellectually curious and motivated students. And yet, many are unable to pursue their interests because of lack of funds. A fellowship that each year allows a worthy recipient to pursue his or her academic interests will have a transformative effect on the lives of students for years to come.
We intend to define broadly the range of eligible projects, so that projects will be driven by students’ own interests. One student could gain hands-on experience on an archaeological dig. Another could develop podcasts that would help students in our beginning language classes. The fellowship could support a creative project such as a classically inspired sculptural or musical composition. Or it could allow a student to spend a semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classics in Rome or the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.
So we are excited to invite you to partner with us in giving back to the community that we dearly love. It is an ambitious vision for a small department, but it is one we fervently believe in. With your help, we can make a big difference in the lives of future generations of students. We may not be able to paint the Parthenon like Liliana, but we can leave a lasting legacy writ large.