Two New Postbac Fellowship Opportunities

The Department of Classical Studies is delighted to announce the formation of two new fellowship opportunities whose purpose is to advance our urgent commitment to opening up access to the study of ancient Greeks and Romans as widely as possible.  

For several decades our Post-Baccalaureate Program in Classical Studies has been a bridge to those from diverse backgrounds to gain access to the profession.  The new Rudolph Masciantonio Fellowship and Elsie Phare Fellowship will each support a student from a group underrepresented in the field to focus on preparation for PhD training via study in the Postbac. Exceedingly generous gifts make each opportunity possible. 

Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio (1940-2016) upon his passing left a substantial bequest to Penn’s Classical Studies Department.  Rudy served the public schools of his native Philadelphia from 1963 until his retirement in 1994. He earned his undergraduate degree, maxima cum laude, from LaSalle College, his M.A. from Penn, and Ph.D. from Temple. He pioneered bringing Latin and Greek instruction to students in underserved populations in the Philadelphia.  

Elsie Elizabeth Phare (married name, Elsie Duncan-Jones; 1908-2003) grew up in Torquay, UK.  She came from a modest background and received a scholarship to attend Newnham College, Cambridge, in an era when women were still not granted degrees by the university.  She held lecturerships at the Universities of Southampton and Birmingham, and her areas of expertise included the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Andrew Marvell; she was also a playwright and a voracious reader of fiction from all eras.  She created a translation of Molière’s The Misanthrope which was performed in London in 1937.  She believed she was descended from the sixteenth century translator of Virgil’s Aeneid, Thomas Phaer.

Emily Wilson, whose gift has lead to the Elsie Phare Fellowship, is excited about the potential of these fellowships: "I'm delighted we are able to fund these new postbac fellowships, which I hope will make a difference both for individual students and for the field of ancient Mediterranean studies, which has been far too inaccessible for too many people for far too long.  I'm thrilled we're taking this small step to welcome and give more concrete financial support students from more diverse backgrounds. I hope they'll help guide the next generation towards new and transformative ways to imagine and engage with ancient languages and ancient cultures."

The Fellowship is named for her grandmother, Elsie Phare. You can read more about the Fellowship, Dr. Wilson's gift, and Elsie Phare here:

Julie Nishimura-Jensen, the director of the postbac program, forsees how much of an impact these fellowships can make: " For many years now, we as a department have discussed how we could provide assistance for promising students and, in a related issue, how we could help increase diversity in our field. The single biggest obstacle facing potential post-baccalaureate students is a lack of funding. These amazingly generous gifts will allow us to bring students from underrepresented groups to Penn and help prepare them for academic careers."

These generous gifts promise to have an outsized impact on future generations who study the ancient Mediterranean, and the many and complicated ways it continues to influence our world.