Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

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Classics Graduate Honors His Former Professors

classics Graduate honors his Former Professors

As Gerald O’Sullivan, Ph.D., GSAS ’72, prepared for his retirement, he started thinking about the myriad ways Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) prepared him for his professional career.

In addition to the lessons he picked up about Euripides’ Heracleidae and Greek lyric poetry, O’Sullivan, a former librarian at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, N.J., took from Fordham an abiding respect for Jesuit education.  Two Jesuits in particular, Herbert A. Musurillo, S.J., a long-time member of the classics department and Richard E. Doyle, S.J., a professor and former dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, left an indelible mark on him.

“Their teaching style impressed me and influenced my own teaching style,” said O’Sullivan, who was a priest for 13 years before leaving the order in 1973.  “I felt as if I owed something to Fordham.”

After some deliberation, O’Sullivan decided to repay his alma mater by establishing two endowed scholarships, one in Father Musurillo’s name and one in Father Doyle’s, to benefit students enrolled in GSAS.  He’s arranged to leave the balance of his retirement account to GSAS upon his death.

What impressed O’Sullivan the most about Fathers Musurillo and Doyle was their ability to bring out the best in their students. Both men possessed engaging teaching styles and a remarkable thirst for scholarship, he noted.  Father Doyle, for instance, asked rigorous questions, which meant his students were always well versed in the subject matter. At the same time, Father Musurillo, O’Sullivan’s dissertation mentor—“a walking encyclopedia”—would go the extra step for his students.

“I once dropped off an early chapter of my dissertation on Friday afternoon,” explained O’Sullivan.  “He sent me his notes Monday morning. He was always prompt, energetic and helpful.”

O’Sullivan said he hopes these new scholarships will provide future GSAS graduate students with the same opportunities and experiences he enjoyed at Fordham, while also keeping alive the legacies of two of the classics department’s most influential professors.

“I have such tremendous respect for their knowledge and ability,” he said. “I wanted to memorialize Father Musurillo and Father Doyle and felt this was the most appropriate way to do so.” 

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