Emory Report
May 4, 2009
Volume 61, Number 30

Giving opportunity

A fund has been established in Robert Detweiler’s memory, honoring his interdisciplinary scholarship in his research and his teaching, in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. Those interested in contributing to the fund may contact Jeff Prince, senior director of development for Emory College, at jprince@emory.edu or
404-727-4494. Gifts may also be made online at campaign.emory.edu/ways-to-give/index.php. Regardless of how you choose to make your gift, please clearly indicate that it should be designated to the Detweiler Fund.


Emory Report homepage  

May 4
, 2009
Detweiler Conference Room remembers ILA leader’s legacy

By Kim Urquhart

The dedication ceremony was informal, intimate and filled with fond memories and humor, just the way Robert Detweiler would have liked it, his colleagues and friends in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts noted.

Thanks to a generous gift from his family, the ILA conference space in Callaway Center is now named the Robert Detweiler Conference Room.

“Bob Detweiler presided over this space,” recalled long-time ILA faculty member and Emory College Dean Robert Paul. “He created and sustained a space on this hallway,” where his door was always open for students and colleagues alike. “He was a great citizen of Emory.”

Detweiler, who taught literature, religion and other subjects from interdisciplinary perspectives, served as ILA director from 1973 to 1982. Though he retired in the mid-1990s after a stroke, he continued to be part of Emory’s scholarly and creative community. At the time of his death, on Aug. 31, 2008, Detweiler was in the process of writing his 10th book, “Falling to Nil,” through the Emeritus College’s Heilbrun Distinguished Emeritus Fellowship.

“Bob Detweiler in many ways epitomizes the spirit of what ILA was and is today,” said Paul. While Detweiler was internationally known for his work at the intersection of literature and religion, “to those of us who knew and loved him, what was most important was the charisma he radiated, the sense of excitement. He has an incredible joie de vivre that allowed him to go from the most serious contemplation of religion to telling a joke.”

Dana White, Goodrich C. White Professor of Liberal Arts, shared several memories of his “valued and joyful colleague,” and said that it was the twinkle in Detweiler’s eye he remembers most.

At the April 28 dedication, ILA Director Walt Reed announced that the family’s generous gift would fund a cash prize, to be offered for the first time next year. The Robert Detweiler Essay Prize will be awarded to the best interdisciplinary essay by an Emory graduate student, with the criteria involving literature and religion. The selection committee will include faculty from the ILA, Comparative Literature and Religion, the programs most important to Detweiler in his 25 years of teaching and 38 years of scholarship at Emory.