A Legacy of Love and Ideas

It was a night of gratitude, a night of remembrance, and a night of celebration as University of Miami alumni, faculty, and esteemed guests gathered together to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program.
Eugene Clasby
Dr. Eugene Clasby founded the College of Arts and Sciences' MALS program 25 years ago.

The MALS program was founded in 1991 by Eugene Clasby, professor of English, with support from many of UM’s gifted scholars and teachers. To date, over 400 students have graduated with a MALS degree, said Daniel Pals, professor of history and religious studies and current MALS director.  As an interdisciplinary program, MALS provides students the opportunity to interact with a broad range of topics at the graduate level, something unique in higher education.

“When I envisioned this program,” Clasby said, “I wanted students to fall in love again…fall in love with something that fills their hearts and fills their minds and makes them want to go out on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and spend two hours in a classroom, even when they have kids at home and other important things to do. MALS is a legacy of love and a legacy of ideas.”

Clasby’s expertise lies in medieval and renaissance literature, with specializations in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Middle English literature. He earned his A.B. in English at Boston College and continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D.

A&S faculty who teach courses within the MALS program, including David Graf, professor of religious studies; Patrick McCarthy, professor of English; Manuel Huerta, professor of physics; Stephen Stein, professor of history; and J. Tomas Lopez, professor of art and art history, shared their deep admiration and respect for Clasby.

Throughout the evening, faculty and guests also expressed fond memories of Clasby’s wife, Nancy, who passed away last November. As a fellow professor in the English Department, she positively influenced his decisions as the MALS director and hosted an annual holiday event at their home welcoming students as family.

UM alumna and MALS graduate Marlene Bryan, Class of 2011, said she was nervous about returning to school but found her path in the MALS program, all thanks to Clasby.

“After 20-plus years of not being in school, I didn’t think I could do it, but Dr. Clasby encouraged me, and he opened that door to a new journey,” said Bryan. “Thank you, Dr. Clasby, for opening doors for us. Thank you for making us better. Thank you for letting your vision shine.”

During his 54-year teaching career, Clasby authored two books on myth, literature, and scripture, countless academic publications, and was awarded numerous teaching and professional acknowledgments and recognitions. His most recent translation, Le Pèlerinage de l'âme (The Pilgrimage of the Soul), was published last month.

Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also announced the establishment of the Dr. Eugene Clasby Student Award created to support MALS students with research, publications, academic potential, and performance.

“MALS is a program that has also made a difference to a lot of our staff,” said Dean Bachas. “They have not only learned something significant but had the ability to advance in their careers, communicate more effectivity, and think across multiple disciplines. I genuinely appreciate what Eugene has done for the program and for the University.”


March 30, 2017