25 years ago, the APA Board of Directors established the Association's Distinguished Service Award. The minutes of that meeting state: "The Directors voted to establish a Medal for Distinguished Service, to be given from time to time at the discretion of the Board of Directors." These Awards acknowledge extraordinary service to the profession of classics and the American Philological Association. They are occasional rather than annual, honoring sometimes extraordinary single achievements, more often life-long distinguished service. Only nine such medals have so far been awarded. It is my special privilege and honor today to hand out the tenth.
Every year the candidates nominated for election to office in the APA routinely extol, and promise to enhance, what they regard as key strengths of our classics community. Among these are its support for innovative and interdisciplinary research on women and classical reception; its incorporation of new technologies into both scholarship and teaching; its commitment to gender equity and increased participation of ethnic, racial and sexual minorities; its inclusion among its leadership of colleagues from undergraduate institutions, many of them in small programs, and from secondary schools; and its fostering of ties between those teaching at the primary and secondary levels, and those at colleges and universities. Moreover, candidates for APA office often comment upon significant demographic and curricular developments and trends in our field. In so doing, whether or not they are aware of it, they testify to the enormously beneficial impact our honoree has had on our profession and discipline.
As an active and committed scholar, she published important biographical studies on twentieth-century classicists, and books, essays, and articles on topics ranging from the Athenian bride to archetypal representations in art and film and to early modern women writers. Her Classics and Femininism: Gendering the Classics. The Impact of Feminism on the Arts and Sciences was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Book of 1997.
In our Association, she has been an active and visible leader in the Women’s Classical Caucus. She held multiple APA offices, chairing the Committee on Smaller Classics Departments and serving twice on the Committee on the Status of Women and Minorities; she was a member of the Committee on Education and its Committee on Teaching Awards; she chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on Outreach in 1998 and has since served on the Outreach Prize Committee; and she was a member of the Board of Directors before serving as Vice-President for Professional Matters.
Engaged as well in the APA subcommittee on Classics, Technology and Teaching, our award recipient received a Teaching with Technology Grant from the NEH in 1997 to launch the VRoma Project designed to create online resources for learning about the Latin language and Roman culture. VRoma features a virtual simulation of Rome in the second century CE that enables users to “walk” the streets of the ancient city and interact with its inhabitants and visitors.
During her term as an APA Vice-President, our honoree undertook the daunting task of creating a data base of faculty and curricula in North American classics departments and programs, an innovative and forward-looking endeavor of great significance to our profession. The ambitious “census” accorded special and much-needed attention to the representation of minority groups and the utilization of adjunct teaching faculty. It has yielded valuable data for hiring as well as curricular planning in many institutions and enabled the APA to acquire a deeper understanding of the practices, strengths, and weaknesses of learning and teaching the classical languages and cultures on our continent.
Remarkably, our honoree accomplished all this while spending her professional career at a small women’s college, shouldering a heavy and varied teaching load as well as numerous administrative responsibilities. We are immensely grateful for her generosity, vision, commitment, and numerous important contributions throughout her career. She has indeed provided “distinguished service” on an exceptionally high level and continually for an exceptionally long time, and the Directors of the Association acknowledge this with deep respect and admiration.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Prof. Barbara McManus!