The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce a gift in support of the renovation of the Loring Hall buildings. Friends of the University of Missouri (MU) have named a bedroom on the second floor of Loring Hall in its honor. Attaching the University’s name to Loring Hall, where members of the American School spend both their formative and their mature years as scholars, ties MU to the School’s rich past from its earliest days and celebrates the long and fruitful relationship between the two institutions.
Jane Biers, Susan Langdon, Kathleen Warner Slane, Dawn Smith-Popielski, and Anne Weis led this group initiative, bringing together various members of the MU community to support the effort, including faculty, alumni/ae, and other friends of the University. As they wrote, “Missourians have spent time at the American School for more than a century. Many of us have enjoyed the benefits of the School, whether spending time at the Blegen Library, days on a bus trip, hours in excavation trenches, or nights at Loring Hall. Others have passed through Greece as study abroad students, researchers, and tourists. But in our own ways, we have all waved the banner of Missouri and come there through its great archaeology and classics programs. We are delighted to create a permanent record of the archaeology and classics programs at the University of Missouri and the long and fruitful association between Missouri and the American School.”
In 1887 Missouri became a co-operating institution of the American School soon after it was founded (1881). Walter Miller led the first American-sponsored excavation of a classical site in Greece at the Theater of Thorikos in 1886. In 1891, John Pickard joined a small team exploring the ancient site of Eretria. These pioneering scholars joined the faculty of MU in 1891 and 1892, respectively, Miller as professor of Classics and Pickard to head what was for a while a one-man department of Classical Archaeology and the History of Art. In 1922 Miller wrote, “Just to spend a year in Greece, in intimate association with the Parthenon and the other great monuments of the Age of Pericles, with the Dionysiac Theatre, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Cephissus, the Academy; to tread the ground once trodden by Themistocles and Sophocles and Socrates, Demosthenes and Plato and Xenophon; to visit Delphi and Olympia with Pindar and Simonides; to revel with the Bacchae on Parnassus and Cithaeron; to fight again on the very scenes the battles of Marathon and Salamis and Thermopylae - any one of these privileges is worth all the time and all the money it costs to claim them. Not only has the American School in Athens enriched the scholarship and the lives of its students; it has added considerably to the world's knowledge of things Greek.”
The relationship between the University of Missouri and the American School of Classical Studies has been mutually beneficial. William Gwatkin and Saul and Gladys Weinberg reestablished it after World War II, and for decades faculty and students trained at the American School have been the backbone of Missouri’s programs in archaeology, classical languages, and ancient history. The School has introduced countless Missouri students to the history and culture of ancient and modern Greece. The plaque displayed in the Missouri Room reads, “… on behalf of all our alumni/ae who have discovered a passion for exploring the Greek countryside and experiencing the philoxenia of the Greek people, we are sponsoring this room as a token of appreciation to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and in commemoration of our own history.”
Photo, left: Biers’ Summer School, 1970. Jane and Bill Biers in the center of the front row; other Missourians: Hadnan Adidi, Anne Weis, Cynthia Schwenk in that order on far left
Photo, right: Walter Graham, Mary Ross, Alex Schultz, and Sarah E. Freeman crossing the river in Olynthos, May 3, 1931
Jane Biers, former curator of ancient art and once interim director of MU's Museum of Art and Archaeology, commented, “My years at the school as a student, 1964–1968, were life-changing, professionally and personally. Henry Robinson, then Director, invited me to dig at Corinth. I excavated the Great Bath on the Lechaion Road with my future husband, Bill. That experience gave me a subject for my Ph.D. and led to my professional interest in Roman Baths. I am forever grateful to the School.”
Kathleen Slane, Professor emerita of Roman art and archaeology, reflecting on her personal experience, echoed a similar sentiment, “I went to the American School for a year as an essential part of my graduate training (as a Romanist!) at Bryn Mawr – I was offered a dissertation topic at Corinth and stayed five years. Essentially, I have never left; although I have worked in many countries, I have been back every summer and several sabbaticals. I was delighted to come to Missouri to join the Weinbergs and the Biers, whom I had met at Corinth. In turn, I sent as many students as I could as Regular Members, an essential immersion whatever period or place they will end up in. The ties between Missouri and the School have been strong; naming the Missouri Room will remind us all.”
Anne Weis, Associate Professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote: “I am a Missourian and received two degrees (B.A. and M.A.) from the University of Missouri, a place where the faculty worked hard to create role models and opportunities for students with interests but often little in the way of professional instinct. I did not become an excavator or a Regular Member at the School, but the summers that I spent there (the Summer Session and two summers excavating as part of the MU team at Phlius) remain a warm and positive extension of my memories of MU, environments that enabled me to come to a clearer understanding of my own intellectual interests and skills and what I wanted to learn to do with them.”
Sue Langdon, Professor emerita of Greek art and archaeology, has enjoyed passing through the American School over the years in different roles as student, excavator, researcher, and teacher: “The School was foundational to my scholarly development and early research. When I joined the faculty of the University of Missouri, and more recently the team of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth, in both places I felt a sense of coming home to roots already deeply fixed. The American School is the tie that binds.”
Dawn Smith-Popielski, a former student of Kathleen Slane and William Biers, added, “My time and experiences at both the University of Missouri and the School were phenomenal and are forever entwined: one could not have existed without the other in shaping who I am today. Although I did not remain in the field, the methods of inquiry and skills I gained as a member of Summer Session II 1994 and volunteering at Isthmia (1995), and the Athenian Agora (1996, 1997) have served me well in my career.”
About the University of Missouri
The University of Missouri was established in 1839 and classical studies has been integral to the university's curriculum since its foundation. Expanding knowledge of the ancient world through study and excavation at Thorikos and Eretria was a priority after the Civil War, as were the new ventures (excavations, a campus museum) initiated after WW II. MU has more than 300-degree programs and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The current Department of Classics, Archaeology, and Religion is dedicated to teaching and research on classical cultures and a global span of religions. The department houses B.A. and M.A. programs in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and in Religious Studies, as well as a Ph.D. in Classics and Classical Archaeology.
The Department of Classics, Archaeology, and Religion was established in 2021 through a merger of the Departments of Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Religious Studies. The latter was created at the University of Missouri in 1981, while Ancient Mediterranean Studies was formed in 2017 by combining the Department of Classical Studies with Classical Archaeology, previously taught in the Department of Art History and Archaeology.
About the Loring Hall Campaign
The Campaign was launched in October 2018 to raise funds for renovating and expanding the three aging buildings that have served as the intellectual and residential heart of the American School: Loring Hall, the Annex, and McCredie House. The Loring Hall buildings remain the place where members of the School community gather for meals, tea, ouzo hour, holiday celebrations, and lectures—a source of lifelong professional and personal relationships that characterize the collegial and intellectually vibrant atmosphere of the School. This modernized setting enhances that experience and will meet the needs of the School community well into the future.
Support the Loring Hall Campaign
The goal of the Loring Hall campaign is $10.2 million, inclusive of a maintenance endowment. Thanks to generous supporters of this historic initiative, more than $8.1 million has been raised to date. The newly renovated and expanded buildings were dedicated on Saturday, June 4, 2022 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception for the School community.
To learn more about how you can support this historic initiative, please contact Nancy Savaides, Director of Stewardship and Engagement (Tel: 609-454-6810). Naming opportunities for a variety of spaces in the Loring Hall buildings are still available. Donors can choose from a wide range of gift levels to name a room or area in honor of themselves, an American School scholar, or a family member, friend, or group. Please click the links below to view the nameable spaces and options that remain: