To the regret of all who knew him, Dick Beards, an associate professor in the Department of English in his 49th year of service at Temple, passed away over Winter Break. Adding to our sadness, the disease that took him worked very swiftly; we had no idea that he was ill and thus didn’t have time to say goodbye or prepare for losing him. The obituary that ran in his local newspaper reveals much about what made Dick special, his blending of scholarly pursuit, care for teaching, and a vital life outside of Temple that included his running an antiquarian bookstore. Our sense of the man was heightened by the memorial gathering put together by Prof. Joyce Joyce, the Chair of English. There, we heard from faculty of all ranks, graduate students, and undergraduates, from those who had known him for decades to those whom he had taught only recently but who had been deeply affected by his generosity. They spoke of his willingness to take risks, such as giving a feminist scholar a graduate class when he was director of the Master of Liberal Arts program at a time when feminism was not to be found—by design—in the graduate offerings of the English Department. They spoke of his extraordinary kindness toward his students, such as making his collection of Native American artifacts available to a Native American student who had never had the chance to touch the expertly-woven baskets of her own people. They testified to his wide-ranging curiosity, always eager to talk with a colleague in the hall about what he or she was working on or teaching.
I had the honor to be among those who spoke, and here’s what I said:
It’s a bit daunting to speak about the passing of somebody who started at Temple
six years before I was born. But while the remarkable length of Dick’s tenure
should be remembered, what struck me when I joined the department in the Fall of
2001 was that the nearly four decades he had already served seemed not to have
diminished his enthusiasm for Temple one whit. He was on the hiring committee
that brought me here, and he told me during our first conversation after I was
hired that what he was looking for were future colleagues who could teach “our
students.” He brought the same focus to a hiring committee I was on a few years
later; yes, he was interested in their research; he read the entirety of the
files; but would they bring the best out of our undergraduates?
|If you have a colleague whose activities would make interesting reading for university faculty, and who has not been profiled recently in other Temple media, please don't hesitate to send their name to Steve Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org.|