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Despite losses and challenges, department thrives

James B. Rives
Kenan Eminent Professor
James Rives, chair of the department

To say that this is not an easy time to be Chair of the Classics Department at Carolina would be a bit of an understatement. Like every other unit in the University, the Department has been affected by the cuts in the state budget for the UNC system; UNC-Chapel Hill alone has had cuts of approximately $235 million since 2008. Although I believe that we have at last turned the corner on the academic-athletic scandal that dominated headlines for a number of years, its repercussions continue to affect our lives at the departmental level. And on top of it all, we are in the midst of fundamental long-term changes to the place of the humanities in American higher education.

On a more personal note, we recently received news that Charles Henderson, Jr. has passed away. “Charlie,” as he was known to many, first came to the department as a graduate student, but matured into a faculty member and life-long friend of the department. We deeply mourn his passing.

Yet despite these losses and challenges, the Department continues to thrive. In fact, I can confidently say that in a wide variety of ways we have had an extremely successful year. Read more >>


Introducing Janet Downie

We would like for you to meet the newest edition to our faculty, Janet Downie. Specializing in Greek prose, she has taken a strong leadership role in the department in her first year, heading up the elementary Greek program while tackling numerous other bureaucratic duties. Below, the British Columbia native shares what brought her to Chapel Hill. 

Janet Downie
assistant professor 

I grew up in British Columbia, Canada, in the city of Victoria (Lekwungen traditional territory), and received my first degree from the University of Victoria, in English and Classics. I started both Latin and Greek at university, at the time because I was interested in – to borrow the title of my most formative course as an undergraduate – the “Backgrounds to the English Literary Tradition.” Like many of the Renaissance writers I was studying, I became fascinated with Greek, and this turned out to be the red thread of my graduate studies. Read more >>

Sturgeon leaves void to fill

For 38 years, Prof. Mary Sturgeon has taught and researched Greek art history and classical archaeology at UNC. Although her main home was in the Art Department, she has filled an invaluable role for our department, shepherding numerous undergraduates and graduate students through the rigors of academia inside and outside of the classroom. Her retiring from the university will leave a great void in our department. In recognition of her contributions to our department, we asked her to share her experiences below. 

Mary Sturgeon
Professor of Art

My educational background differs from that of most Art Department faculty, as I began my career as a Classics major (University of Minnesota). I got hooked on archaeology by taking first year Greek with Bill McDonald, who focused on the Greek Bronze Age. For graduate work I went to Bryn Mawr College in Classical Archaeology and Greek, where I concentrated on Greek sculpture and painting, my teaching areas at UNC. Read more >>

Faculty News and Notes

Find out what the rest of the faculty have been up to all year long. Read more >>

Graduate Students

McCullough joins ‘Wallmart’ team

Katelin McCullough
Graduate Classical Archaeology student
Katelin McCullough (far left) with her "Wallmart" team: (l-r)
Katelin McCullough (far left) at “Wallmart.”

This past summer I was a square supervisor at the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project in northern Israel. This ASOR affiliated project included students and faculty from UNC, Carthage College, Queens College, and St. John’s University. Since 2013, OSEP has focused on the excavation and analysis of a Roman period settlement surrounding a Greco-Roman temple complex at the site of Omrit.

The square I was working in was north of the large temple which dominates the site. Our goal in excavating near that section was to get a better understanding of the community that formed around the immense temple structure. This square fulfilled just about everything that one could hope for when excavating with field school students, but perhaps the most immediately challenging part was trying to understand the many architectural features that were in this small space. Read more >>


Postcards from Greece

Graduate student Erika Weiberg has spent the past academic year in Greece as a Bert Hodge Hill Fellow at The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, participating in the Regular Program of the School. Below, she shares some of the highlights of her time in Greece. 

Erika Weiberg
Graduate philology student

While visiting the Cyclopean walls of Asine, the Nobel Prize winning Greek poet George Seferis imagines that he is touching the same stones that the Mycenaean king of Asine once touched. As a Regular Member at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens this year, I have traveled throughout Greece looking for traces of the people who once inhabited the ruins we visit, though unlike Seferis, I am more interested in the ordinary people of ancient Greece than a king mentioned once in Homer. Along the way I found more than I was looking for: an oracular tree, ancient graffiti, mythical street names, the revival of ancient games, warrior women, and olive harvests. This photo essay captures my favorite moments from this year of time travel. Read More >>

Conferences, conferences, conferences

Graduate students busied themselves with a number of conferences aside from the annual meetings for the Society for Classical Studies and the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. 

UNC-KCL graduate students strengthen ties >>

Learning pedagogy >>

From classroom to conference >> 

Undergraduate Students

Eta Sigma Phi round up

Drew Cabaniss
Senior Classics major & ESP President

Eta Sigma Phi, the department’s undergraduate honors society, has primarily focused on academic support for undergraduates this year. Starting in the fall, we organized weekly tutoring for first- and second-year Greek students in order to provide informal opportunities for solidifying their knowledge of beginning Greek. Read more >>


We asked three undergraduates to share what they have been up to this year, why they study Classics, and what is up next for them. Below, they give us their answers. 

Ditmore challenges self to do more >>

Little preps for career in academia >>

Rohde on the road to Oxford >>


From Classics to technology

Amanda (Giannini) Watlington graduated from the department with her PhD in Classics in 1973. Since then, her alt-ac career as an expert in online marketing, e-commerce, search engine marketing, and new media has flourished. She is now the CEO of City Square Consulting and owner of Searching for Profit. Below, Watlington shares how she parlayed her educational background in Classical languages into a career helping Fortune 500 companies master “the psychology of search” and skyrocket their e-commerce. 

Amanda G. Watlington
PhD, ’73

If during graduate school a fortune teller had told me that I would become an acknowledged expert in technology, I would have demanded my money back and declared the fortune teller a fool. The only fool would have been me, for I have spent the bulk of my career in computer technology and the Internet. How did someone with an education in Greek and Latin become a renowned Internet expert? What courses prepared me for a career in a field that did not exist when I completed my studies? Read more >>

Department pairs with alumna to host JCL

As part of its outreach activities, the department regularly hosts the North Carolina Junior Classical League’s annual meeting. The event brings approximately 600 young Classicists from middle and high schools across the state to take competitive Latin quizzes, share their artistic displays, and race chariots, among other activities. It is also a great time for members of the department to reconnect with alumni who return to their alma mater with their own students. Below, alumna and the head of the convention, Ashlie Canipe, BA ’08, shares more about the event, and the impact the event has on the middle and high school students who convene to share their love of Classics. 

Ashlie Canipe, BA ’08
JCL Coordinator & Chair and Instructor of Humanities, Thales Academy Rolesville

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito” (“Yield not to misfortunes, but proceed all the more boldly against them”) is the quotation from Vergil’s Aeneid that inspires the events of the Junior Classical League during the 2014-2015 school year.

On April 17 and 18, approximately 600 middle and high school students competed as part of the Junior Classical League on UNC-CH’s campus in more than thirty creative and academic competitions anchored in the Classics as part of the North Carolina Junior Classical League’s annual State Convention. Read more >>

Sandridge advances digital humanities

Since completing his PhD in 2005, Norman Sandridge has distinguished himself for his work in the digital humanities, creating an open-source and collaborative commentary to Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus and blogging about his latest research ideas. He took a leave from Howard University to develop these projects as a fellow at Duke University for the academic year. 

Norman Sandridge
PhD ’05 
Sandridge caught up with David Carlisle, PhD '09, and Carlisle's son Norman at the Society for Classical Studies' annual meeting in New Orleans. | Photo courtesy of Norman Sandridge
Sandridge caught up with David Carlisle, PhD ’09, and Carlisle’s son Desmond at the Society for Classical Studies’ annual meeting in New Orleans. | Photo courtesy of Norman Sandridge

Upon completion of my dissertation on Jason’s leadership in Apollonius’ Argonautica in 2005 (Bill Race was my director, with Sharon James and Jim O’Hara as readers), I took a position at Howard University in Washington, DC. I have been teaching a range of courses in Greek and Latin and in translation, but the constellation of topics I find myself perennially marveling at consists of leadership, the emotions, and the digital humanities. My work on Greek tragedy has looked at leaders who experience pity and what they are willing to do to save others, even if it jeopardizes their standing in the community. In 2012 I published a book on Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus that explored the significance of philanthropia (the love of humanity), philotimia (the love of being honored), and philomatheia (the love of learning) in Xenophon’s theory of leadership. Read more >>