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Retiring Faculty Members Leave Rich Legacy on Students, College

For more than four decades, these seven professors have shaped Holy Cross and their fields
July 29th, 2019 by 

Dinand library in spring

After decades of shaping students and the College, the following faculty members announced their retirement from Holy Cross this spring: Isabel Alvarez Borland, distinguished professor of arts and humanities; Patricia Bizzell, distinguished professor of humanities; John Hamilton, associate professor of classics; Baozhang He, associate professor of Chinese; Joseph Lawrence, professor of philosophy; Carol Lieberman, associate professor of music; and Charles Locurto, professor of psychology. Over the course of their academic careers and long service, these seven professors have impacted the lives of countless students and made significant contributions to their fields.

Isabel Alvarez Borland, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities

 Isabel Alvarez Borland

Isabel Alvarez Borland joined the Spanish department in 1981. Her research interests include U.S. Cuban and Latino literature, Cuban literature, Caribbean literature and contemporary Latin American narrative. She authored the books “Cuban-American Literature of Exile: From Person to Persona” (University of Virginia Press, 1999) and “Discontinuidad y Ruptura en Guillermo Cabrera Infante” (Ediciones Hispamerica, 1983), and co-edited “Negotiating Identities in Cuban American Art and Literature” (SUNY Press, 2009) and “Identity, Memory, and Diaspora” (SUNY Press, 2008). She is currently an associate editor of Hispania and was co-director of the 2006 NEH Seminar for College Teachers, “Negotiating Identities in Art, Literature and Philosophy: Cuban Americans and American Culture.” She has published more than 40 articles on Cuban and Latin American literature in prestigious scholarly journals.

At Holy Cross, Alvarez Borland taught a range of language and literature courses, in Spanish and English, including in the Honors program. She served on multiple College committees, including several terms on the Committee on Tenure and Promotion and the Committee on Research and Publication. Alvarez Borland also served two terms as director of the Latin American and Latino studies concentration, and was coordinator of the Spanish section of modern languages and literatures several times throughout her career.

“We wouldn’t even be a department today if it were not for Isabel’s leadership and tireless advocacy over a period of many years,” shares Cynthia Stone, professor of Spanish and department chair. “We certainly would not have done as good a job motivating and nurturing our growing numbers of heritage students, as her classes on exile, immigration, ethnicity, Latina memoir and Spanish for bilingual students have played a crucial role in providing a sense of belonging and a space for our students to explore their many identities in flux.

“One of the things those of us in Spanish cherish most about our time in the classroom is the opportunity for students from many different backgrounds to come together over our shared love for the language and culture as expressed through literature and the arts,” she continues. “Isabel embodies and activates that ideal from her own particular vantage point as a Cuban exile raised in the United States who is fascinated by the role of memory and loss in shaping how we view and act in the world.”

Patricia Bizzell, Distinguished Professor of Humanities

 Patricia Bizzell

Patricia Bizzell joined the English department in 1978. She is an expert in the field of rhetoric and composition, having written, edited and collaborated on dozens of essays and books, including “The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present” (Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1990; second edition 2001; third edition in progress), which earned the National Council of Teachers of English Outstanding Book Award in 1992. Bizzell, who has made major contributions to her field, served as the president of the Rhetoric Society of America from 2004-2005. At Holy Cross, Bizzell taught a variety of literature and writing courses across all levels, founded and directed the Writer’s Workshop, served as the director of the College Honors Program and English Honors Program and chaired the English department for a number of years.

“One of my favorite courses to teach over the years has been Rhetoric (ENGL 381),” Bizzell shares. “It combines theory and practice, allowing us to turn in class from the complex ideas of rhetorical theorists, such as Plato and Aristotle, to the practical requirements of real world speaking occasions. Theory alone might be too dry, but not when the students can see how to apply it in their own speeches, which, without this intellectual content, might be too simplistic.

“I like having the opportunity to help students who take this course because they are very nervous about public speaking,” she says. “To help them get over their fear, I always began on the very first day by bringing in a large blue glass goblet, and I tell them that each of them is going to raise this goblet and give a toast, speaking in front of the whole class. I offer a simple template for the toast and let each student fill in whatever occasion is meaningful to them. Some are eager and some are shocked, but everyone does it!”

John Hamilton, associate professor of classics

 John Hamilton

John Hamilton joined the classics department in 1972. With particular interests in the fields of Greek literature, mythology, Roman lyric and satire, Hamilton has authored or contributed to nine books, including multiple chapters in “Antiquities: Modern French Thought” (New York, 2001). He has also authored nearly 25 conference papers and essays and held faculty appointments at University of London and McGill University, among others, over the course of his career. At Holy Cross, Hamilton taught courses on ancient Greek, Latin and translation, including honors courses, such as Virgil, Pastoral Poetry and Ancient Greek Music.

He also served as director or reader for many student theses, including as adviser for the 2018 Fenwick Scholar and as interviewer for Fulbright applicants. In the past few years, Hamilton has partnered with Kirk Freudenburg, professor and chair of classics at Yale University, to lead a colloquium on Hamilton’s Juvenal course and collaborated with members of the Holy Cross English department to help develop a new minor in rhetoric and composition.

“I once told my class, ‘Basically, this is mortuary science,'” Hamilton says. “All these authors we study are dead; my job is to resuscitate them. As a classicist, I’m looking toward the past — and, you see, there’s so much to learn from these great insights and these great stories.

“I’ve also learned a lot from the students — they were really bright, interesting, funny and consistently extraordinary,” he continues. “That’s the reason it’s been such a wonderful experience here. Most of them don’t go on in classics, but they love classics and they love languages. They’ve really been a pleasure to teach.”

Baozhang He, associate professor of Chinese

 Baozhang He

Baozhang He joined the modern languages and literatures department in 2003. Within the fields of Chinese language, linguistics, literature and culture, he has co-authored five books and nearly 20 scholarly articles and book reviews, which range from theoretical discussions of Chinese syntax to textbooks and pedagogical grammars for students and teachers of Chinese as a foreign language. He has served his field in many ways, including as president, vice president and board member of the Chinese Language Teachers Association and as the co-chair of the College Board Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture Development Committee.

At Holy Cross, He taught many Chinese courses, including advanced Mandarin Chinese and Introduction to Chinese Linguistics, and served as a faculty adviser to ALANA students, international students from China, students in the Chinese program and the student organization ASIA. He also coordinated three study-abroad trips to China.

Joseph Lawrence, professor of philosophy

 Joseph Lawrence

Joseph Lawrence joined the philosophy department in 1986. His expertise is on the philosopher Schelling, German idealism and comparative metaphysics, and he is the author of three books: “Schellings Philosophie des ewigen Anfangs” (Königshausen & Neumann, 1989); “Socrates among Strangers” (Northwestern University Press, 2015); and a translation of Schelling’s 1811 “Ages of the World,” (SUNY Press, 2019). At Holy Cross, Lawrence taught dozens of philosophy courses, directed tutorials and honors theses and served as the chair of the philosophy department on multiple occasions.

“Working in conjunction with graduate programs in both Germany and the United States, I have had the honor and privilege to mentor a number of students all the way through to the Ph.D.,” Lawrence shares. “My primary aim, however, has been to make students across the disciplines aware of the power and importance of philosophical reflection.

“I have always tried to set an example for my students by stubbornly and consistently challenging ideological fixations, whether of the left or the right, believing as I do that we owe our primary allegiance not to ever-shifting norms and arbitrary regulations, but to the eternal verities of reason and the dictates of a kind and loving heart,” he says. “Challenging the truisms of the day is not the antisocial act that true believers make it out to be. Quite the contrary, it is the condition of the possibility of a community that, instead of self-righteously preaching inclusion, is itself genuinely inclusive.”

Carol Lieberman, associate professor of music

 Carol Lieberman

Carol Lieberman joined the music department in 1985. She has been one of the leading exponents of Baroque violin performance for five decades and is equally well known for her performances of 19th- and 20th-century violin repertoire. She has concertized throughout Europe, North and South America, and frequently performs for radio and television, including Radio Nacional España, Belgian Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and National Public Radio. Lieberman performs as violinist of the Lieberman-Kroll Duo and the Early Music Ensemble of Boston, and she is first violinist and founder of the Quartetto Tomasini, a period instrument string quartet. At Holy Cross, Lieberman was the director of the Holy Cross Chamber Players, taught a litany of courses, from Music of the Baroque Period to From Opera to Broadway, and served as chair of the music department.

“My proudest scholarly moment was the receipt of my Doctor of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music,” Lieberman says. “I was the first violinist to receive that degree. My professional career includes my hundreds of recitals in the U.S. and abroad; my employment as first violinist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; and my many chamber music recordings, including my latest two-CD release on Centaur Records, ‘The Art of Carol Lieberman.'”

Charles Locurto, professor of psychology

 Charles Locurto

Charles Locurto joined the psychology department in 1976. Over the course of his academic career, he has done extensive research on animal behavior, comparative intelligence, individual differences in animal problem solving and behavioral genetics. He authored and co-authored two books, respectively: “Sense and Nonsense About IQ: The Case for Uniqueness” (Praeger Press, 1991) and “Autoshaping and Conditioning Theory” (Academic Press, 1981). Locurto has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, in addition to a $250,000 grant from the National Institute of Health for his work on implicit learning in cottontop tamarins. At Holy Cross, Locurto ran a busy lab, working with nearly 50 student researchers in the past 15 years alone. Locurto served as the director of the biological psychology concentration for many years and taught a variety of courses throughout his tenure, including Evolution of Behavior and History and Theory of Psychology.

“Chuck is well known for his passion for research,” share his colleagues in the psychology department, “his careful and caring work with lab animals, his mentorship of countless students, within both the lab and the classroom, and, not least, his fierce intellect and commitment to speaking out about difficult issues. Less well known is the fact that he’s written novels, gone on the road with Grace Slick and the band Starship for a rock magazine article, interviewed B.F. Skinner at the latter’s contraption-filled house in Cambridge and, in addition to being a first-rate scientist, has variously served as a philosopher, a historian, a cultural critic and more. We’ll all miss his sharp mind, his wit and, yes, even his provocative, well-aimed questions and ‘tweaks,’ designed to get us thinking about important things.”


Written by Evangelia Stefanakos ’14 and Jane Carlton for the Summer 2019 issue of Hole Cross Magazine.

About Holy Cross Magazine
Holy Cross Magazine (HCM) is the quarterly alumni publication of the College of the Holy Cross. The award-winning publication is mailed to alumni and friends of the College and includes intriguing profiles, make-you-think features, alumni news, exclusive photos and more. Visit magazine.holycross.edu/about to contact HCM, submit alumni class notes, milestones, or letters to the editor.

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