Dr. Gordon P. Kelly arrived at Lewis and Clark College in 2004, just after the faculty, rather reluctantly, had approved an interdisciplinary Classics minor. As the only full-time classicist there, he had his work cut out for him. Ten years later, thanks to his stellar teaching and tireless promotional efforts, the faculty voted unanimously to approve a Classics major. Today, even without the benefit of a tenure-line appointment, Dr. Kelly continues to go above and beyond the call of duty to motivate his students.
A colleague praises Dr. Kelly for “his versatility in developing new courses to fill the needs of the Classics program and the college curriculum as a whole.” The 17 different courses that he has taught include Latin, Greek, history, classical civilization, and a gender-studies course on “Roman Women,” in which he assigns to each student an “avatar” or imagined character from ancient Rome. In his Greek and Roman Epic course he has students vote for “Academy Awards” such as “Best Ekphrasis” or “Best Epic Kill”! He lobbied successfully to have Vergil’s Aeneid added to the curriculum of Lewis and Clark’s required first-year humanities sequence and wrote a book-by-book teaching packet for instructors who had never taught the poem before.
As a Navy veteran and a former rower on the trireme Olympias, Dr. Kelly is adept at keeping his classes shipshape. Students admire him not only for the content and design of his courses but also for his high standards: “He demands a level of excellence that invites and encourages students to rise to the occasion and often surprise even themselves.” “Within Gordon’s classroom there is a sense of purpose and equality that is wonderful to experience. He is an engaging instructor who knows his field extremely well and his students sense it. He is a professor who makes us want to earn our grade.” In 2014 he secured a Mellon faculty-student research grant so that four of his students could participate with him in Rutgers’ summer archaeological field school in Vacone, Italy.
Dr. Kelly is renowned for always having his office door open and for being a mentor to those who are struggling; he spends long hours helping students improve their writing skills. To top it all, he has a jovial personality that endears him to his students: “I’ve never had another class where I’ve learned so much so quickly, nor one where I’ve had as much fun as I do in my classes with Gordon.” “I’ve often overheard my peers insist that everybody ought to take ‘at least one Gordon class’ before graduating.” “After the third lesson in Latin, I found myself practically sprinting to the registrar’s office to drop my original major and pursue Classical Studies instead.”
In recognition of Dr. Kelly’s transformative teaching, which has put Classics on the map at Lewis and Clark College, the Society for Classical Studies is pleased to honor him with this Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level.