Classicists Celebrate Professor Gutzwiller’s Retirement

Kathryn Gutzwiller, John Miller Burnam Professor of Classics, was honored in the Burnam Classics Library on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, on the occasion of her retirement.

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Professor Daniel Markovich was the master of ceremonies for the evening.

The Library ran out of chairs as more than 70 people crammed into the Reading Room, including Provost Valerio Ferme and Interim Dean of A&S Margaret Hanson.

Professor Margaret Hanson was one of the speakers lauding Professor Gutzwiller’s accomplishments.

Associate Professor Susan Prince spoke about Professor Gutzwiller’s mentoring skills, especially of young female academics, including Dr. Prince herself. She drew laughter when she mentioned only a few of Professor Gutzwiller’s publications, referring the audience instead to her c. 25-page CV of publications, presentations, etc.

Associate Professor Monessa Cummins, Grinnell College, is one of many whose doctoral dissertations Professor Gutzwiller shepherded.

Professor Peter Bing, University of Toronto, a friend and colleague of 35 years, spoke about Professor Gutzwiller’s and his time at Case Western which had offered them both a home after they had been denied tenure at their previous institutions. Professor Gutzwiller eventually returned to UC and Professor Bing went to Emory.

Internationally acclaimed sculptor and classics alumnus Tom Tsuchiya presented a gift from the Classics Department to Professor Gutzwiller in the form of a sculpture of an owl, full of symbolism — the wisdom of the bird, the reference to the goddess Athena juxtaposed to the strength and fighting spirit of Professor Gutzwiller herself and to the city state of Athens, the geographic area of Professor Gutzwiller’s research on Athenian poet and dramatist Menander and others, with a map of West Virginia, the birthplace of Professor Gutzwiller, of the institutions from which she received her degrees, and of Case Western where she worked for a couple of years. At UC Classics she had to fight sexism and a denial of tenure until she triumphantly returned after being reinstated and winning a six-figure lawsuit. She was offered tenure at Case Western also but is said to have chosen to return to UC mostly because of the world-class collections of the Burnam Library.

Other symbolism involves one of the owl’s eyes depicting the Blegen Library building, housing both the Classics Department and Library, and the other eye depicting a deer. Outside her house in Clifton, Professor Gutzwiller has both owls and deer, and she and her husband Bob were instrumental in stopping a planned deer hunt in Clifton and Burnet Woods, eventually leading to the successful Clifton sterilization program. They, along with other UC faculty and students and others, picketed outside of City Hall, also featured on the 11 o’clock news. On a personal note, several years ago, I led a one-woman unsuccessful protest against deer hunting in the town of Lambertville, NJ, every Saturday, come rain or shine. In fact, that particular year it was the worst winter in a hundred years, so often only my upper body from my waist and arms holding up picket signs were showing as the rest of me was buried under several feet of snow. Kind people brought me money-:) and hot chocolate; sadly, it did nothing to stop the blood “sport” of killing deer in the area. So what Professor Gutzwiller and her husband accomplished for the Clifton deer is all the more inspiring.

Professor Gutzwiller, visibly moved, thanks the Classics community gathered in the Reading Room and several of her dissertation advisees honoring Professor Gutzwiller in different corners of the world via Zoom.

Professor Gutzwiller receiving a standing ovation.

A small sampling of Professor Gutzwiller’s oeuvre (see a few more recent titles under Faculty Publications) was on display in the Reading Room along with a picture of an empty beach chair looking out over the ocean, waiting for the new retiree. Of course, everyone who knows Professor Gutzwiller understands that she much prefers the library to the beach.

A reception followed in the Annie Laws room at CECH after the main event in the Burnam Library.

A few of the guests were treated to dinner and champagne at the Transept on Elm Street in the evening where the celebration of Professor Gutzwiller continued into the wee hours.

See also an earlier blogpost documenting another event in the Burnam Library in connection with Professor Gutzwiller being appointed John Miller Burnam Professor of Classics in 2019.


Owl Deer, Drawing by Art De Noé | Artmajeur