A Brief History of the Department of Classics

In 1982, with the support of the Department of Classics History Fund and department chairs John Dillon and Charles Murgia, Emeritus Professor Joseph Fontenrose (well known for his works on Greek and comparative myth, such as Python: a study of Delphic myth and its origins (1959), and his The Delphic oracle: its responses and operations with a catalogue of responses (1978)) published Classics at Berkeley: The First Century 1869-1970 (pp. viii + 124). The following listing of key dates and people is largely based on his research, updated with more recent data assembled from current members of the Department. A digital version of this booklet is now available in an open-access archive, the Classics Department's section of the California Digital Library's eScholarship Repository.

  • 1853 Contra Costa Academy (preparatory school) founded by Henry Durant
  • 1855 Contra Costa Academy incorporated as College of California (preparatory school)
  • 1860 College of California begins to offer college courses, with Henry Durant teaching Greek and Latin at pre-college and college levels, assuming title of Professor of Greek Language and Literature in 1862; Martin Kellogg also teaches in the 1860s as Professor of Latin Language and Literature
  • 1868 University of California founded March 23; Kellogg appointed as second faculty member on December 1; Greek and Latin were required for the Bachelor of Arts degree, but other degrees (Bachelor of Philosophy [from 1872] and Bachelor of Letters [from 1881]) were taken by students in the College of Letters who did not do Greek and Latin
  • 1869 first University classes conducted at College of California site
  • 1870-72 Henry Durant (for whom Durant Hall and Durant Avenue are named) serves as first President of the University
  • 1873 University moves to its current site in Berkeley with opening of North and South Halls, the latter of which still survives
  • 1885 PhD degree instituted at the University
  • 1888 first PhD in Greek awarded to H. H. Senger
  • 1890-1899 Martin Kellogg serves as Acting President, then President (1893) of the University
  • 1890s hiring of Isaac Flagg, Leon J. Richardson, Edward B. Clapp, William A. Merrill, James T. Turner, and Herbert C. Nutting, many of whom served the Department for several decades
  • 1890s graduate courses appear in the schedule of the Department
  • 1893-1897 Regents force Greek professor George W. Bunnell (hired 1872) to resign in 1893, and in reaction Regents who supported Bunnell attempt to force resignation of Isaac Flagg, but fail
  • 1896 official beginning of departmental structure at the University: Department of Greek and Department of Latin are separate until 1937; courses had previously been listed under heading Classical Philology
  • 1896 first position in Classical Archaeology created
  • 1899-1919 Benjamin Ide Wheeler, with a scholarly background in Comparative Philology (cf. Wheeler's Law on the shift to paroxytone accentuation of Greek oxytones with dactylic-shaped final syllables) and Greek and Latin at Brown, Heidelberg, and Cornell, serves as President of the University, overseeing a pivotal transformation in its scholarly status and physical environs
  • 1900 Jane K. Sather, in consultation with Wheeler, agrees to bequeath funds to the University for various purposes, among which is an endowment for a Chair in Classical Literature
  • 1902 Elementary Greek offered for the first time: the 1902-1903 General Catalogue announces the intention to offer a new course for freshmen, the designation of which is not yet determined; in the following year's catalogue Greek Course A appears, said to be designed for those who wish to begin the study of Greek after entering the University
  • 1903 James T. Allen directs Aristophanes' Birds to inaugurate the new Hearst Greek Theatre
  • 1905/06 first PhD degrees in Latin awarded to Ivan Linforth and William H. Alexander
  • 1905-1920 appointments of Ivan M. Linforth, Monroe Deutsch (for whom a residence hall is named), Torsten Petersson, Oliver M. Washburn, George M. Calhoun, Roger M. Jones, most of whom served the Department for decades
  • 1914 first Sather Professor of Classical Literature, John Linton Myres, appointed by President Wheeler; see separate brief history of Sather Professorship and list of Sather Professors
  • 1915 all College of Letters and Science students now receive Bachelor of Arts degree, whether they take Greek and Latin or not
  • 1919 inscription on portal at bridge to Faculty Glade begins HANC PONTEM, a slip of William Merrill (who claimed he saw feminine PONS in some medieval texts); the inscription was recut to read HUNC, but one can still see evidence of the original A when viewed at the proper angle
  • 1919-20 faculty revolt against autocratic powers of administrators leads to retirement of President Wheeler and a major increase in the powers and participation of the Academic Senate; among the classicists, Ivan Linforth and George Calhoun lead a reform of the procedures for the Sather Professorship, so that henceforth scholars are selected by the Department well in advance and the publishing of the lectures in book form through the University of California Press is an expectation of the appointment
  • 1930s Joseph Fontenrose and Arthur E. Gordon join the faculty
  • 1930s decline of Latin in the high schools, leading to lower enrollment in college courses and decline in number for students seeking teaching credential in Latin; elementary Latin courses offered for first time in 1935 (Latin A and B, each equivalent to a year of high school Latin)
  • 1932 Ivan Linforth serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1932 first PhD in Classical Archaeology (Oscar Broneer), in a graduate program instituted by H. R. W. Smith
  • 1937 Department of Classics formed from combination of separate Greek and Latin Departments
  • 1940s William C. Helmbold, Louis A. Mackay, and W. Kendrick Pritchett join the Department; Harold Cherniss teaches in the Department for a few years
  • 1941 Sanskrit (formerly in a separate department) is housed in Classics with the appointment of Murray B. Emeneau (who later moved to a joint appointment in, and then entirely to, the Linguistics Department, while Sanskrit eventually moved to the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies)
  • 1941 George Calhoun serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1941 Ivan Linforth is Faculty Research Lecturer (selected by the Academic Senate)
  • 1947 Lily Ross Taylor is the first woman appointed as a Sather Professor
  • 1949 W. H. Alexander serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1950s John K. Anderson, Elroy Bundy, Gerson W. Rabinowitz join the Department
  • 1952 Department moves from Wheeler Hall to Dwinelle Hall, 5th floor, west side
  • 1955 group major in Classical Civilization is established for those who want a course (or a second major) with less emphasis on the languages; although administered by the undergraduate adviser in the Department, this major is listed in the catalogue in a section of group majors under Letters and Science (apparently because courses from other departments are involved) and is not listed under the Classics Department heading until 1983 (when the catalogue was extensively rewritten at the return to the semester system)
  • 1960s William S. Anderson, Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr., John M. Dillon, Charles E. Murgia, Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, Ronald S. Stroud join the Department; Erich S. Gruen appointed in History, later holds joint appointment in Classics
  • 1960 Louis MacKay serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1966 foundation of the Department of Comparative Literature, involving several joint appointments with Classics
  • 1968 foundation of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, in which W. Kendrick Pritchett plays a major role
  • 1968 foundation, under the impetus of W. K. Pritchett, of annual volume California Studies in Classical Antiquity edited by co-editors from Berkeley and UCLA
  • 1970s Anthony W. Bulloch, Robert C. Knapp, Mark Griffith, Donald J. Mastronarde, Stephen G. Miller, Robert Rodgers, Leslie Threatte, Florence Verducci join the Department; Andrew Stewart appointed in Art History, later jointly appointed in Classics; David J. Cohen appointed in Rhetoric, later jointly appointed in Classics
  • 1971 amalgamation of the Classics Department Library (which had separate Greek and Latin seminar rooms) with a library reserve collection to form part of the Art History/Classics Graduate Service (renamed Art History/Classics Library in 2000), and remodelling of the associated rooms to become the 308 Doe suite
  • 1972 beginning of the UC Berkeley excavations at Nemea, Greece, directed by Stephen G. Miller
  • 1975 Florence Verducci is the first woman member of the permanent Classics faculty
  • 1976 W. Kendrick Pritchett receives American Philological Association Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for The Greek State at War
  • 1977 W. S. Anderson serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1980s G. R. F. Ferrari, Anthony A. Long join the Department
  • 1982 MacArthur Fellowship awarded to Peter R. L. Brown of History and Classics
  • 1982 periodical Classical Antiquity inaugurated in succession to California Studies in Classical Antiquity, with editorial office and chair of editorial board at Berkeley and editorial board drawn from Berkeley, other UC campuses, and other west coast universities
  • 1989 T. G. Rosenmeyer serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1990 T. G. Rosenmeyer is Faculty Research Lecturer (one of two selected by the Academic Senate)
  • 1990s Alan Code, Ralph Hexter, Leslie Kurke, Kathleen McCarthy, Trevor M. Murphy, Ellen Oliensis join the Department
  • 1992 E. S. Gruen serves as President of the American Philological Association
  • 1995 Classics Graduate Program rated #1 in "effectiveness of graduate program" and #2 (by 0.02 on a 5-point scale) in "faculty distinction" in the results of the National Research Council survey of US graduate programs
  • 1996 (May) to 1997 (November) Department "decanted" to the 300's corridor during the seismic retrofitting and expansion of Dwinelle Hall; the "decanting" coincides with the change of the administrative services structure from departmentally based to clustered (CASMA = Classical, Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, South and Southeast Asian Studies, Medieval Studies Administration)
  • 1997 Department moves to its current quarters on 7th floor, west side, gaining a new departmental conference room, Nemea/Sardis Archive room, separate graduate student computer room, and better, adjacent space for Graduate Student Instructors
  • 1997 Donald J. Mastronarde receives American Philological Association Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for Euripides: Phoenissae
  • 1998 revised Classical Civilizations major introduced, including an option to do all work in courses in English translation
  • 1998 remodeling of the Art History/Classics Library service desk, corridor, and access in response to the removal of the Doe Core and the placement of new Doe Core elevator opening into the facility
  • 1999 Leslie Kurke of Classics and Comparative Literature receives MacArthur Fellowship; with promotion, Kurke also becomes the first woman to hold title of Full Professor in the Department
  • 2000 A. A. Long is Faculty Research Lecturer (one of two selected by the Academic Senate)
  • 2000 foundation of the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri with leadership from the Department, as a result of the Sunset to Dawn Review of campus Organized Research Units; real operations begin in July 2001 with funding and hiring of papyrologist
  • 2000s Christopher Hallett, Todd Hickey, Sumi Furiya, Dylan Sailor, Nikolaos Papazarkadas, Kim Shelton, and Theodore Peña join the Department
  • 2002 Kathleen McCarthy receives American Philological Association Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for Slaves, Masters, and the Art of Authority in Plautine Comedy
  • 2004 E. S. Gruen is Faculty Research Lecturer (one of two selected by the Academic Senate)
  • 2004 Leslie Kurke becomes the first woman to serve as Department Chair
  • 2005 Kim Shelton joins the department as first Director of the new Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Classics (from 2008, Assistant Professor)
  • 2010 Leslie Kurke is Faculty Research Lecturer (one of two selected by the Academic Senate)
  • 2012 Leslie Kurke receives American Philological Association Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for Aesopic Conversations
  • 2013 Susanna Elm receives American Philological Association Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit for Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church
  • 2010s Sara Magrin and Duncan Macrae join the Department.

Department Chairs 1970 to present (chairs are 1896-1970 listed in Fontenrose's book, pages 108-109)

  • William S. Anderson 1970-1973
  • Thomas G. Rosenmeyer 1973-1975
  • Ronald S. Stroud 1975-1977
  • John M. Dillon 1977-1980
  • Charles E. Murgia 1980-83
  • Leslie L. Threatte 1983-1986
  • Anthony A. Long 1986-1990 (on leave 1986-1987)
  • Donald J. Mastronarde (Acting) 1986-1987
  • Mark Griffith 1990-1993
  • Donald J. Mastronarde 1993-2000 (on leave 1996-1997)
  • Mark Griffith (Acting) 1996-1997
  • Robert C. Knapp 2000-2004
  • Leslie Kurke 2004-2009
  • Donald J. Mastronarde (Acting) 2007-2008
  • Giovanni R. F. Ferriari 2009-2014
  • Leslie Kurke (Acting) 2014-2015
  • Ellen Oliensis 2014-

Supplement to the faculty lists in Fontenrose's book (pages 80-103)

This list includes all those who who held ladder positions (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) for any length of time from Fall 1970 onwards, as well as emeriti with earlier service who died later than 1980.

  • John K. Anderson, 1958-1993, Professor 1968, retired 1993
  • William S. Anderson, Classics and Comparative Literature, Professor 1960-1994, retired 1994
  • Shadi Bartsch, Classics and Rhetoric, 1991-1998, Acting Assistant Professor 1991, Assistant Professor 1992, Associate Professor 1995 (moved to University of Chicago)
  • Frank Bezner, Classics and Comparative Literature, 2009-, Associate Professor 2012
  • Peter R. L. Brown, Classics and History 1978-1983 (moved to Princeton)
  • Anthony Bulloch, 1976-, Associate Professor 1979, Professor 1986
  • Alan D. Code, Philosophy and Classics, Professor 1998-2007 (Nicholas C. Petris Professor of Greek Studies 1998-2007; previously in Philosophy only 1977-1992); moved to Ruters in 2007
  • David J. Cohen, Rhetoric and Classics, Professor 1992- (Chancellor's Professor 1998; previously in Rhetoric only, 1979-1992)
  • John M. Dillon, 1966-1980, Professor 1970; took post of Professor, Trinity College Dublin in 1980
  • G. R. F. (John) Ferrari, 1988-, Associate Professor 1990, Professor 2001
  • William Fitzgerald, Classics and Rhetoric, Professor Jan. 2000- Dec. 2003 (retired from UC, took up position in Cambridge)
  • Joseph Fontenrose, 1934-1935, 1937-1970, Professor 1955, died 1986
  • Sumi Furiya, 2005-2012, Assistant Professor
  • Peter D. Garnsey, 1967-1973, Associate Professor 1970 (moved to Cambridge)
  • Arthur E. Gordon, 1930-1970, died 1989
  • Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr., 1966-2012, Associate Professor 1972, Professor 1978, retired 2010, died 2012
  • Mark Griffith, Classics [and Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies from 1998], 1976-, Associate Professor 1978, Professor 1981 (Klio Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies 2007-) (had been Acting Asst. Prof. 1973-74)
  • Erich S. Gruen, History and Classics, Professor 1988-2004, Professor in the Graduate Division 2004-2007 (Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics 1986-2007; previously in History only, 1966-1988); fully retired 2007
  • Thomas N. Habinek, 1984-1992, Associate Professor 1986 (moved to USC)
  • Christopher Hallett, History of Art and Classics, Associate Professor 2001-
  • Albert Henrichs, Associate Professor 1971-1973 (moved to Harvard)
  • Ralph J. Hexter, Classics and Comparative Literature, Professor 1995-2006 (retired from UC, President of Hampshire College)
  • Todd M. Hickey, 2004-, Assistant Professor (jointly appointed as Papyrologist/Curator in The Bancroft Library, Center for the Tebtunis Papyri; Papyrologist/Curator and lecturer 2001-2004), Associate Professor 2011
  • W. Ralph Johnson, 1966-1974, Associate Professor 1972 (moved to Cornell)
  • James G. Keenan, 1968-1973 (moved to Loyola University Chicago)
  • Robert Knapp, 1974-2006, Associate Professor 1980, Professor 1986, retired 2006
  • Brian A. Krostenko, Assistant Professor 1993-1995 (moved to University of Notre Dame)
  • Leslie Kurke, Classics and Comparative Literature, 1990-, Associate 1994, Professor 1999 (Robert and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor, 2007-2012; Gladys Rehard Wood Distinguished Professor 2012-)
  • Anthony A. Long, Professor 1982-2013 (Irving Stone Professor of Literature 1991-2013), Professor of the Graduate School (Irving Stone Professor Emeritus) 2013-
  • Louis A. Mackay, Professor 1948-1968, died 1982
  • Sara Magrin, 2014-, Assistant Professor 2014
  • Donald J. Mastronarde, 1973-, Acting Assistant Professor 1973, Assistant Professor 1974, Associate Professor 1979, Professor 1984 (Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies 2001-2015). Professor of the Graduate School (Melpomene Professor Emeritus) 2016-
  • Kathleen McCarthy, Classics and Comparative Literature, 1995-, Associate Professor 2000
  • Stephen G. Miller, 1973-2005, Associate Professor 1975, Professor 1981, retired 2004
  • Charles E. Murgia, 1966-1994, Associate Professor 1972, Professor 1978, retired 1994, died 2013
  • Trevor M. Murphy, 1997-, Associate Professor 2003
  • Michael N. Nagler, Classis and Comparative Literature, 1965-1991, Associate Professor 1973, Professor 1987, retired 1991
  • Ellen Oliensis, 1999-, Associate Professor 1999, Professor 2009
  • Nikolaos Papazarkadas, 2007-, Associate Professor 2012
  • Theodore Peña, 2009-, Professor of Classical Archaeology
  • W. Kendrick Pritchett, 1948-1976, Professor 1954, retired 1976; died 2007
  • W. Gerson Rabinowitz, 1959-1989, Associate Professor 1958; died 1998
  • Robert H. Rodgers, 1970-1980, Associate Professor 1975 (moved to University of Vermont)
  • Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, Classics and Comparative Literature, Professor 1966-1990, retired 1990; died 2007
  • Dylan Sailor, 2005-, Assistant Professor 2005, Associate Professor 2008
  • Danuta R. Shanzer, 1981-1990, Associate Professor 1987 (moved to Cornell)
  • Kim Shelton, 2008-, Assistant Professor (2005-2008 Adjunct Assistant Professor), Associate Professor 2012
  • Andrew F. Stewart, History of Art and Classics, 1998- (Chancellor's Research Professor in Ancient Mediterranean Art and Archaeology 1998-2003, Nicholas C. Petris Professor of Greek Studies 2007-; previously in History of Art only 1979-1998)
  • Ronald S. Stroud, 1965-2004, Associate Professor 1969, Professor 1972 (Klio Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies 2001-2007); Professor of the Graduate Division 2004-2007; fully retired 2007
  • Leslie L. Threatte, 1970-2002, Associate Professor 1975, Professor 1981, retired 2002
  • Florence Verducci, Classics and Comparative Literature, 1975-1994, Associate Professor 1981, retired 1994