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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

The Department of English honors the memory of R.J. Kaufmann

Posted: June 24, 2013
R.J. Kaufmann

R.J. Kaufmann

The Department of English honors the memory of R.J. Kaufmann, who passed away June 11 in Georgetown, TX.  Kaufmann dedicated 20 years of his life to the students of the University of Texas at Austin and many more to his passion for the humanities.

From R.J. Kaufmann's Obituary

R. J. Kaufmann died in Georgetown, Texas, on June 11. He was a force of nature and a man of many epithets: teacher, scholar, mentor, father, husband, provider, thinker, naval officer, gentleman, academic leader, defender, gardener, cook, artist, poet, critic, athlete, counselor, storyteller, humorist, and lover of music, books, young people, favorite cats, and all excellent things and creatures, great and small. 

A favored young professor at Princeton and "excessively be- fathered," as he put it, he resisted settling down to the comforts of an Ivy League career. Handsome, tall, robust physically, his independent spirit bridled at the prospect of being kept and displayed as a brilliant specimen from the provinces. His broad interests took him to Wesleyan, then to Rochester, where he was chairman of both the English Department and the History Department, and finally to the University of Texas, where during his 20 year tenure he was a chaired professor, dean, and chairman of the Comparative Literature Depart- ment. Along the way he was recruited to serve as the president of Reed College in Oregon and the Folger Library in Washington but declined these and other prestigious opportunities in order to continue classroom teaching, the foremost of his many passions. When faced with a life choice, he preferred to take the direction that would keep the road open before him and foreclose the fewest possibilities. That pattern of choosing, combined with boundless energy and intellectual curiosity, manifested as a refusal to play the game, to go along to get along. His uncompromising nature brought him into conflict with academic politicians who survived and flourished by strategems and manipulation and scandalized those who, in his words, "never did anything for its own sake." He was impatient with cant and hypocrisy, pretension and posturing. In short, he was a man of integrity. 

Read the full obituary at the Austin American Statesman.

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