Professor Emerita of English Virginia Hale—a faculty member for more than four decades, an author, a prolific teacher in the All-University Curriculum and the Presidents’ College, and an officer in the Emeriti Association—passed away on July 19 at the age of 76.
Calling hours and a funeral Mass will take place on July 31 and Aug. 1, respectively, and a memorial celebration will be held on campus on Oct. 3. Scroll to the bottom of this article for details.
“From its founding the University has been based on strong faculty and the relationships they build with their students. Virginia Hale exemplified that dedication to teaching, scholarship, and her students,” said University President Walter Harrison. “She was dedicated to the University, and remained actively involved as both a faculty member and a leader of the Emeriti Association. She loved the University of Hartford, and we will all miss her.”
Hale was born on June 26, 1938 in Hartford, daughter of the late Edward and Gladys Shea, and spent her childhood growing up in Wilson, Conn. She excelled in school, skipping several grades and eventually graduating from Mount St. Joseph Academy at the age of 16. She went on to receive degrees from Boston University, the University of Hartford (1963), and Temple University (1965). In 1972 she earned a PhD in English from the University of Connecticut.
Hale joined the University of Hartford in 1968, and had a long career as a faculty member in the English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Among her many roles, she served as chair of the English Department from 1985 to 1992.
Hale also played an integral role in the creation in 1987 of the All-University Curriculum (AUC), the University-wide, interdisciplinary general education program, and she was one of its early directors. She continued to teach in the AUC long after her retirement; in fact, she taught an AUC course this summer and was scheduled to teach again in the fall.
“Virginia’s classes were always among the most challenging at the University and she was always willing to offer her time to any student who sought help or desired to extend material beyond what was covered in the classroom,” said Associate Professor Caryn Christensen, director of the AUC. “She took special pains to make sure that rigorous material was made lively and relevant for students. Virginia brought salsa instructors into her class to teach students to dance after they had deciphered Latin American literature and most recently created a special version of her course, ‘Literature and Films of Other Cultures,’ which focused upon the stories of sports in many cultures. Students loved her courses and many came to truly appreciate the level of challenge she offered.
“Virginia was a wonderful colleague,” Christensen added. “She made enormous contributions to the AUC, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the entire University of Hartford community.”
In addition to teaching in the AUC, Hale also taught extensively in the Presidents’ College, the University’s noncredit program for intellectually curious adults, offering a wide range of courses, seminars, and trips focusing on the arts, science, and the humanities.
She was planning to teach a course for the Presidents' College this fall called “In Search of Kings"—an attempt to find the real personalities of English kings behind their representation in fiction. Now the course will be taught in tribute to Hale by English professors Robert Logan and Amanda Walling, and University President Emeritus Humphrey Tonkin, director of the Presidents' College.
Hale taught Chaucer for the Presidents' College, "and also a course that traced the Troilus and Cressida story from Chaucer and Boccaccio to Shakespeare," Tonkin said. "We will all of us miss Virginia very much—for her erudition, her engaging style, her wisdom, and her colleagueship. I know that my sentiments are echoed by those who took her courses in the Presidents’ College."
Hale also was active in the University’s Emeriti Association, where she served as co-chair from 2007 to 2009 and as executive secretary and treasurer from 2010 to the present.
“Ginny was a dear friend of so many of us in the University community for many years,” said Robert Wallace, professor emeritus of psychology and biology and chair of the Emeriti Association. “She was a wonderful colleague, a capable administrator, and a skilled scholar in her field as a medievalist. She will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her.”
In addition to numerous academic publications, Hale authored the book A Woman of Business: The Life of Beatrice Fox Auerbach, and she gave lectures around the state about Auerbach’s life
Hale’s family will receive friends on Thursday, July 31, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Carmon Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., Windsor, Conn. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m., at St. Gabriel Church, 379 Broad St., Windsor, Conn., with burial following in Windsor Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
A memorial celebration will be held on Friday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. at Konover Campus Center at the University of Hartford. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society. To read Hale's extended obituary and send notes of condolence to the Hale family, please visit www.carmonfuneralhome.com.