This spring marks the 100th anniversary of Harry Caplan’s graduation from Cornell. After receiving his doctorate, Caplan, Class of 1916, M.A. ’17, Ph.D. ’21, joined the faculty and over a nearly 50-year career as a professor of classics became one of Cornell’s most beloved and inspiring teachers.
After his death in 1980, former students contributed to an endowment in Caplan’s honor. Annual travel fellowships from that endowment – the Caplan Travel Fellowships – are awarded to students who share his interests, including Greek and Latin classics, ancient Jewish culture, and ancient and medieval Latin rhetoric. The fellowship grants can subsidize specific academic projects or focused tourism.
“The Caplan Travel Fellowships have been key to the careers of many Cornell students over the last 35 years,” says Sturt Manning, professor and chair of the classics department. These include:
- Lauren Schwartzman ’04, who visited sites in southern France to investigate ties between Cathar and Jewish communities during the early Middle Ages. She went on to the University of Oxford and now teaches at Loyola University.
- Jacqueline Burek ’10, who conducted research at the British Library, received a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship and now teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
Caplan himself was an academic star, elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year, winner of the Barnes Shakespeare Prize, the Frances Sampson Fine Arts Prize and awards in public speaking.
This year’s Caplan Travel Fellowship winners are Christopher Erdman '17 and John Hall '17, who will each use their $4,000 award to study and conduct research in Italy.
Erdman, a classics major, will participate in a five-week summer intensive study of Latin at the Paideia Institute in Rome with Michael Fontaine, associate professor of classics. After the Paideia program, Erdman will remain in Italy to study inscriptions relating to his honors thesis.
Hall, a history major, will use the fellowship to either attend the summer program in Rome through the American Academy in Rome or the Summer Session in Athens through the American School of Classical Studies, to expand upon his knowledge of ancient history.
This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.