Please join us to celebrate the life of William E. Harkins (1921-2014), former director of the Russian Institute and professor emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages.
William E. Harkins, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University, died on May 17, 2014, at the age of 92. Among Slavists, Bill Harkins was a true renaissance man: he was an expert on Russian prose, a specialist in Slavic folklore, one of the first American scholars to do serious work in Czech literature, the author of a monograph on Karel Čapek, a translator from Czech, the author of the Dictionary of Russian Literature, the author of a Czech language textbook and co-author of a widely used textbook of Russian grammar, and a promoter of regional studies. Generations of Columbia students remember him fondly for his contribution to their training on all these fronts, as well as for his good will, his attention to their development as writers, and his having made them attuned to the interplay of word and image in Slavic culture. In 2000, his students and colleagues in the field honored him with a Festschrift volume entitled Depictions: Slavic Studies in the Narrative and Visual Arts (edited by Douglas M. Greenfield). His colleagues were profoundly grateful to him for his generous service to the Slavic Department, the Russian Institute, the university, and the Slavic field at large. He played an important role in making Columbia an important center for Slavic studies.