July 11-12, 2002
ITEM 116-2002-R0702 Authorization to Confer the Title of Professor Emeritus of English upon Jerome E. Coffey; Montana State University-Bozeman
THAT: Upon the occasion of the retirement of Jerome E. Coffey from the faculty of Montana State University, the Board of Regents wishes to express its appreciation for his service to the University, the Montana University system, and the people of the State of Montana.
EXPLANATION: Professor Coffey joined the faculty of Montana State University-Bozeman in 1972-73. He received his doctorate in English language and linguistics from SUNY-Buffalo in 1969 and taught as an assistant professor at Western Illinois University and at SUNY-Brockport before coming to Montana.
Professor Coffey’s scholarly field is oral literature, and his investigations have moved from Old and Middle English oral-formulaic verse to Faroese oral poetry and, eventually, to Scandinavian literature in general. He has received numerous grants from organizations ranging from MSU to the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the literature of Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. He has twice served as a Fulbright lecturer and research scholar, representing MSU at the Universities of Bergen and Tromso in Norway. His stature in his field has led to his hosting the international Norway Seminar in Bozeman, bringing to Montana internationally recognized professors, writers, and diplomats. Recently he has developed and maintains the website and bibliography for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, an award-winning scholarly resource.
As a teacher, Professor Coffey has excelled. He has taught linguistics at the lower- and upper-division levels, developed successful courses in linguistics, the oral tradition, and Scandinavian literature; taken students to study in Norway in summer programs; and developed exchange programs for students and faculty, such as the current exchange program with the University of Bergen. Students consistently have praised his energy and commitment to both his field and his students; they describe his ability to make language study come alive. In 1995, Professor Coffey received the Presidential Teaching Award in recognition of his achievement.
That commitment to his field and his students also has extended to his service and outreach. Professor Coffey has been a leading force with regard to technology on campus, serving on searches and task forces associated with information technology and the campus infrastructure. He also has been a significant force state-wide with the Benefits Program, chairing committees and developing informational programs; since 1997 he has written and edited Choices: The Newsletter of the MUS Benefits Program. Two years ago the MSU-Bozeman Faculty Senate voted to issue a special commendation in recognition of Professor Coffey’s efforts on behalf of our system.
In short, Professor Coffey’s career has been a distinguished one, and all aspects have been characterized by commitment and integrity. He deserves the rank of Professor Emeritus.