1967-2017 Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Classics Department at UNC Asheville
A Brief History of Classics at UNC Asheville
The Classics department at UNC Asheville has been in existence for fifty-one years, but Classical Greek and Latin were central to American education from the beginning. After colleges and universities stopped making knowledge of these languages a requirement for entrance into college in the early 20th century, Classical Studies became less central to the curriculum as a whole, though still important. Many high schools and universities continued to make one or both of these languages compulsory well into the 1950's.
In 1967, the North Carolina Board of Higher Education approved the college’s request to establish Classics as a freestanding department with its own major. At the time, the sole faculty member for the new department was Dr. William Thurman, whose joint appointment was, and remained, in Classics and History. He was joined later that year by Dr. Frederic Marcus Wood, who apparently died during the school year in 1974. In 1969 Asheville-Biltmore College joined the UNC system and became chartered as the University of North Carolina at Asheville, the designated Liberal Arts institution in the state-wide system. By the fall of 1973, Dr. Guy Cooper III had joined the faculty and was chair of the department in the 1980’s until his retirement. By the 1990’s there were Programs in Greek and Latin, Greek, Latin, and Teacher Licensure in Latin. Biblical Hebrew was later added as part of the department. Cooper hired Dr. Sophie Mills in 1994. She became chair the following year when he retired. Mills hired Dr. Dorothy Dvorsky-Rohner, who established the ancient garden project and Ancient Gardens Club behind what was then New Hall. Dr. Rohner retired in 2011-2012, and passed away in 2015. In the early 2000's Mills hired Dr. Hook, Dr. Holland, and Dr. Taylor. Dr. Holland established the UNC Asheville Eta Tau Chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the National Classics Honor Society. Dr. Holland became chair in 2011, and hired Dr. Butera in 2012. In 2016, New Hall was named in honor of Alfred J. Whitesides Jr., a long-time Board Member and supporter of our university. The building was dedicated on Feb. 19, 2016, after a public vote by the Board of Trustees. In April of 2016, the ancient garden behind Whitesides Hall was officially named the Dorothy Dvorsky-Rohner Ancient Garden.
Why study Classics?
There are compelling academic reasons for today's college student to study classics. The interdisciplinarity inherent in the study of the classical world enables students to gain a broad base of knowledge and critical thinking skills, which are excellent preparation for the current labor market as well as for lifetime learning. Our alumni are prepared for the challenges of a wide range of careers, including, law, teaching, business, archaeology and material conservation, linguistics, school administration, and many others. A developing sub-field in Classics is VR and DG gaming, such as Virtual Reality Pompeii, Mythos Unbound, and Total War, to name only a few.
Our department offers instruction in Classical and Medieval Latin, Classical and koine (New Testament) Greek, and Biblical Hebrew, and a wide range of Classical Civilization courses. We offer our students the advantages of a private setting in the public sphere through individualized attention, a rigorous curriculum, multiple opportunities for study abroad, active undergraduate research, and a committed faculty engaged in outreach, teaching and research.
We welcome visits from prospective students, and invite you to sit in on a class, meet current students, and discuss the classics program at UNC Asheville with faculty members.