Friday, April 14, 2006

Strange Death of Mark Southern

Remembering Mark R.V. Southern

Middlebury College mourns the loss of a beloved professor

On March 16, the College was
shocked by the unexpected passing of
beloved Visiting Assistant Professor
of German and Linguistics Mark R.V.
Southern. He died on Wednesday afternoon
in his home at age 45.
The Offi ce of the President sent out
several messages over the course of the
weekend, starting with an all-campus
e-mail containing minimal information
about the death and announcing that
College Chaplain Laurie Jordan ’79 and
Assistant Professor of Psychology and
licensed clinical psychologist Augustus
Jordan were on hand in the Chateau
Grand Salon to provide emotional support
to students, faculty and staff. The
College also held a memorial service yesterday
afternoon in Mead Chapel.
Popular almost from the instant
he arrived on campus, Southern soon
achieved near rock-star status among
students for his seemingly unlimited
depth of knowledge and effervescent
personality. He inspired scores of students
to declare Independent Scholar
majors in linguistics, and he was recently
involved in an effort to establish
a linguistics minor. He also served as an
advisor to many German students
supervised several independent projects,
always eager to serve as a second
Born in Cambridge, England
graduate of the prestigious Eton School
and both Oxford and Princeton Universities,
Southern was a well-respected
scholar in historical linguistics, especially
among Germanic, Romance
Classic languages. He worked with
languages and was able to make connections
between Old Norse, Sanskrit
and French with little effort. His courses
regularly fi lled to more than twice
initial capacity, as students fl ocked
lectures. He often displayed so much energy
that he would end a class with
and sweat all over his clothes, a trademark
that endeared him to his students.
Said Edward Hinson ’05.5, “Mark’s lectures
bubbled with excitement even
8 a.m.” Hannah Washington ’08 added,
“He always seemed excited by every
perspective that students could offer.”
As a scholar, his research interests
covered all areas of the humanities, including
classics, comparative religion
and anthropological linguistics. He
recently published a book, “Contagious .........

By Jason F. Siegel
Focus Editor
See Southern, page 3

1 comment:

Dave Kelly said...

As a former student of Dr. Southern, I'd like to thank you for making this available. I've come back to UT after about ten years, and was extremely disappointed not to find him here. So I searched on google, and disappointment turned into a sadness that I didn't know that he had passed.
I took three classes from him, and can attest that he was all that the article states, and I will add that he was a good friend as well. He will certainly be missed, yeah?