In Memoriam: Barbara F. McManus (1942-2015)

With great sadness and heavy hearts, we report that Barbara F. McManus passed away in the early morning of June 19, 2015, from complications related to cancer. Her death is a particularly painful loss to CAAS. She served our organization in many capacities, with a rare combination of dedication and vision: as President in 2005 and Webmaster from 2005-2010; and as a member of its Awards and Program Committees. CAAS was proud to honor her with an ovatio in 2001, and by establishing the Barbara F. McManus Leadership Award in 2011.

After graduating from the College of New Rochelle summa cum laude in 1964, Barbara joined its faculty in 1967, while still a graduate student in Comparative Literature at Harvard, which awarded her a PhD in 1975. Before retiring from CNR as a full professor in 2000, she made a distinctive mark on its academic landscape by teaching innovative courses in classics, comparative literature and women’s studies; directing the writing program in its School of Arts and Sciences; and leading efforts to integrate technology into classroom teaching.

Barbara’s impressive roster of vanguard scholarly publications includes books on women in early modern England, feminist theory and classics, and the pioneering American classicist Grace Harriet Macurdy, as well as articles in several learned journals. In 2012, the Women’s Classical Caucus, for which she labored impressively as its co-chair and secretary-treasurer, recognized her outstanding achievements in research by launching the annual Barbara McManus Award for the best published article in gender studies each year. She won major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: her NEH-funded Teaching with Technology initiative led to the creation of the VRoma Project, a virtual city and community for classics students worldwide, on which she collaborated closely with her longtime CNR classics colleague Ann Raia.

In 1994 she received the CNR Alumnae Association’s Ursula Laurus award; in 2014 its Woman of Achievement award, as a shining example of “Wisdom for Life”. In 2012, the Classics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, hosted an international interdisciplinary conference in her name to recognize her scholarship and teaching, with the support of grants from the National Science Foundation and CAAS itself.

On the morning of her death, Adam Blistein,  Executive Director of the Society of Classical Studies (formerly the American Philological Association), paid warm and moving tribute to Barbara’s valuable contributions [] from 1983 onwards: on its Committees on the Status of Women and Minorities, ad hoc Committee on Outreach and Outreach Prize; on its Board of Directors; and as its Vice President for Professional Matters, where she single handedly created the APA census on classics department staffing and enrollments. In 2009 the APA honored her with its Distinguished Service Award for her extraordinary achievements on behalf of our discipline and profession.

Barbara’s devoted work for CAAS on many fronts, and in particular her caring support of CAAS colleagues, ranks high among her stellar accomplishments. According to an ancient Greek maxim, the measure of one’s life is not its length but its goodness. Barbara F. McManus—exemplary daughter, sister, wife, mother, colleague, scholar and beloved friend—illustrates those words, in all that she has done and been. Her invincible spirit abides, and we strive to fulfill the ideals that she so memorably embodied.

Written by:

Mary Brown, Judith P. Hallett, Maria S. Marsilio, Ann R. Raia