In Honor and Memory of Dr. Linda Julian
Cancer is a merciless and indiscriminate assailant that ravages young and old
alike. Last week, cancer robbed Furman of a great professor.
over five years, Linda Julian had struggled valiantly against
malignancies that ravaged her body and sapped her energy. Yet no sooner
did the awful treatments bring one tumor under control than others would
During the last few weeks, her husband Clark, her
colleagues in the English department, as well as other faculty, student,
alumni and staff friends, kept a regular vigil at her bedside. Their
steadfast devotion provided poignant witness to the impact Professor
Julian had on all who had the privilege of knowing her.
of Greenville and a summa cum laude graduate of Clemson, Linda Julian
earned a Ph.D. in British literature from Boston University and began
teaching at Furman in 1980. Her courses on Charles Dickens were always
oversubscribed. She made the Victorian era come alive, and her
enthusiasm for teaching and for reading was infectious. She often told
her students: Your homework is to curl up with a good book and read for
hours. What greater pleasure is there in the world?
working with students, especially freshmen, and she allowed them
countless opportunities to revise and improve their papers, even though
it meant she had to read and comment on each successive version. She was
an inspiring professor and caring mentor. Students affectionately
called her Dr. J, and everyone marveled at her insatiable appetite for
No professor at Furman served on as many committees
as Linda did. She once confessed to the dean that I've been told it's a
mark of maturity to give up pleasurable things for duty, and she was
remarkably dutiful. Witty and self-effacing, gentle yet rigorous,
patient and considerate, Linda embodied the very ideals that Furman has
long espoused. That she received the Meritorious Teaching Award
testified to her stature on campus.
Before becoming a professor, Linda had served as a reporter and editor forThe Greenville News . Her newspaper experience led to her teaching courses at Furman in journalism and serving as the faculty advisor to The Paladin, the
student newspaper. Former editor Stacy Schorr, now a journalist in
Washington, D.C., recalls that the lessons she learned from Professor
Julian have been as valuable outside the classroom as inside: She was a
teacher not only of theory and ideals, but of practical application and
Despite the debilitating nature of her
illness and treatments, Linda Julian strove valiantly to maintain her
teaching duties. In fact, as she often said, I plan to die teaching.
contact with students was therapeutic for her and for them. A
radiant, robust woman, she was remarkably open with her students about
her condition and her prospects. As she explained a few months ago, I
don't think anyone should be reluctant to let students know what's going
on in their lives. For one thing, it might encourage someone else to go
for treatment. I think truth is the best policy, and besides, I felt I
needed to give some explanation as to why I might not be at my best.
most of us, the prospect of death is likely to be a paralyzing specter.
Our natural tendency is to crawl into a cocoon of self-pity. For Linda,
however, her precarious mortality steeled her determination to serve
others as teacher, adviser and friend. Her diminishing days made each
one more precious.
Through it all losing her hair and appetite,
struggling with pain and discomfort she was an inspiring example of
grit and grace, a professor who literally invested her life in her
students and her calling. Her enthusiasm speaks volumes about her
character, a student wrote last year. Sheer joy is on her face each
day, no matter what circumstances may be plaguing her personal life.
Now, while we still grieve at her absence, she suffers no more. As her beloved Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities , It is a far far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.