Editorial Staff

Professor of English, Emeritus Coley Dies at the Age of 96

William B. Coley, Professor of English, Emeritus, passed away on Jan. 7, at the age of 96.

Coley served in the US Army from 1942 through 1946, and then received his BA, MA, and PhD from Yale University. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1952, he taught English here for almost 40 years until he retired in 1991. Coley was a lifelong scholar, awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He published numerous books and articles, including Hogarth on High Life (with A.S. Wensinger, Wesleyan University Press, 1970), and was the guiding force behind and the executive editor of the monumental edition of novelist Henry Fielding’s work published by Oxford University Press and Wesleyan University Press over several decades.

“Bill was a challenging, scrupulous instructor of small groups and thesis writers, and an invaluable developer of curriculum for the literary studies emergent at that time,” said colleague Richard Ohmann, Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language, Emeritus. “He also worked to make Wesleyan a university in more than name. In particular, he was among the insurgents of the Junior Faculty Organization who drove the transformation of Wesleyan from a white, male, ‘Greek’-dominated campus into the more cosmopolitan and politically committed institution it became.”

Coley is survived by his wife, Emmy Coley; two daughters, Phyllis Coley and Katherine Coley; three stepdaughters, Soni Clubb, Mariann Clubb, and Elizabeth Clubb; his brother, Bradley Lancaster Coley; and nine grandnieces and grandnephews. The family will hold a celebration in the spring. (Please contact Sheryl Culotta for details if you are interested in attending.) Memorial contributions may be made to the Cancer Research Institute, 29 Broadway, NY 10006; or to the Sharon Audubon Society, 325 Cornwall Bridge Road, Sharon, CT 06069.

Hawkins Remembered for Teaching English at Wesleyan for 20 Years

Sherman Hawkins, professor of English, emeritus, died on Dec. 3 at the age of 90.

Sherman received BA degrees from both Harvard University and the University of Oxford and his PhD from Princeton University. He served in the US military at the conclusion of the Korean War. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1971 after teaching at Princeton, Bryn Mawr, and University of Rochester, he taught English here for 20 years until he retired in 1991. For decades, his essay on college as a green world experience was given to every freshman entering Wesleyan.

“Sherman was an unforgettable colleague and presence at Wesleyan,” said Professor of English and Letters Kach Tölölyan. “As a teacher, he combined a dramatic style that captivated students and a sense of responsibility that made him scrupulous in every aspect of teaching. I have never forgotten our conversations concerning Shakespeare.”

Theater’s Francisco Directed International Productions, Interdisciplinary Workshops

William “Bill” Francisco, professor of theater, emeritus, died on Friday, Nov. 22,  at the age of 86.

Francisco received his BA from Amherst College in 1955, and his MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1958. He joined the Wesleyan faculty as an artist-in-residence in 1974 and as an associate professor in 1975. He taught theater here for 28 years until he retired in 2002.

Francisco was an active director throughout his career, working in theater, opera, television, and film. He directed productions off-Broadway, at Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, San Francisco Opera, and many other prominent theaters across the U.S. and Canada. At Wesleyan, in addition to directing productions, he taught courses in voice, acting, and directing. He also taught a number of interdisciplinary workshops, including a screenwriting workshop with Kit Reed.

His colleague, Gay Smith, professor of theater, emerita, said: “What a gifted director! His productions of Waiting for GodotWho’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, and Évita are emblazoned in my memory, as I’m sure they are in the memories of his students, his most renowned and grateful for Bill’s tutoring being Lin-Manuel Miranda.”

Jack Carr, professor of theater, emeritus, said: “When I think back on my time with Bill, I immediately recall how he invested himself totally, intellectually and emotionally, in every production he directed and every student he mentored… He was the most inventive, innovative and inspiring director with whom I have ever collaborated. Bill also was a most supportive and loyal colleague/friend. I miss him every day.”

Francisco is survived by his nephew, Aaron Francisco and Aaron’s wife, Jennifer.

Fontanella Ebstein Reflects on 30 Years at Wesleyan

(By Ann Bertini)

Gemma Fontanella Ebstein is leaving her role as Wesleyan’s Associate Vice President for Advancement at the end of December, following a 30-year career at the University.

During her tenure, Fontanella Ebstein has helped the Office of Advancement expand and foster lifelong alumni and parent loyalty and support for Wesleyan. An important part of this work has come through facilitating local and global events, and overseeing the merging of Reunion and Commencement weekends (2000) and Homecoming with Family Weekend (1995). Fontanella Ebstein also led University Communications and the Gordon Career Center through leadership transitions, and has helped cultivate a culture of Wesleyan pride among her teams and anywhere her work has taken her.

“My entire time at Wesleyan has been spent under Gemma’s leadership and tutelage,” said Director of Special Events Deana Hutson, whom Fontanella Ebstein hired 21 years ago to help centralize Reunion and Commencement. “I have learned so much from her—from her innate ability to problem-solve through collaboration to the importance of empowering her team in a way that is genuine, nurturing, and respectful. I am so appreciative of how much she has contributed to my experience at Wesleyan and for the friendship that resulted from this journey.”