Tribute held for 'engaging' prof

The Daily Pennsylvanian
October 22, 2007

Media Credit: Felipe Matsunaga
Al Filreis, director of the Kelly Writers House, speaks during a memorial for late Penn professor Bob Lucid.

Almost a year after his death, retired English professor Robert "Bob" Lucid was remembered at the Kelly Writers House on Friday night by former students, coworkers, friends and family.

Lucid, who created and founded the Writers House, died at age 76 on Dec. 12, 2006. The English Department held a memorial service for him on April 13, but the Writers House decided to wait until this weekend so that Lucid's former students returning to Penn for Homecoming could attend the tribute.

Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis began the tribute by praising Lucid and reading quotes from some of Lucid's former students who could not attend the event.

"'Bob Lucid is one of my idols,'" Filreis read.

Alumna Susan Savitsky, who took four of Lucid's courses in the 1970s, spoke next, calling celebrating Lucid a "daunting obligation."

"His teaching style was masterful and engaging," Savitsky said. "He made literature come alive."

Former Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrison spoke about what it was like to work with Lucid. Morrison and Lucid taught a class in the mid 1990s together on literature and the concept of the university.

Ivar Berg, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, praised Lucid for his passion for improving the University, saying that "he cared about teaching as a mission."

Another former student of Lucid's, Ed Kane, remembered finding solace in a Lucid class, calling him "an icon of stability in a world of chaos."

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Lucid himself.

Filreis played a five-minute long sound clip in which Lucid responded to the question, "what is the difference between a college house and the Writers House?" Lucid gave a long-winded, rambling answer, his signature way of speaking.

The ceremony concluded with the announcement of an annual writers' symposium in honor of Lucid that will feature authors similar to those Lucid admired, such as William Faulkner and Norman Mailer.

Funding for the symposium will come from an endowment created by Savitsky and Kane.

Lucid's other contributions to the University included serving as chairman of the English Department from 1980-1985 and 1990-1991, developing the Writing Across the University Program and serving as the faculty fellow at Hill and Gregory College Houses.