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Fred Mench

Dr. Mench received his B.A. in Classics from Kenyon College where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. His first academic position was at the University of Texas at Austin, and, in 1971, he joined the faculty at Stockton where he remained until he retired in 2008. While at Stockton, Dr. Mench served as Chair of Arts and Humanities and was the first Faculty Assembly president. He has received numerous academic honors and awards throughout his career including a Fulbright Fellowship to Rome and many NEH fellowships, one of which led to the development of the Examined Life program at Stockton. Although Dr. Mench retired from teaching at Stockton, he is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at Middle Tennessee State University and lives in Smyrna … Tennessee not Turkey. As one would expect from a professor of Classics teaching at a small college, Dr. Mench’s research and teaching interests have been quite diverse. Among his many presentations and publications are “Aeneid 2 as Cinema,” “Were there Butterflies in Rome?” and “Generation Gap in Euripides’ Hippolytus.” In addition to teaching all levels of Latin, Dr. Mench taught courses on Alexander and Caesar, Daily Life in Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt, which were extremely popular courses, The Bible in Literature, and Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Shaw. His service to Classics has included serving as President of the Classical Association of Atlantic States and as a Book Review Editor of the journal The Classical World. Dr. Mench also initiated a website that will be of interest to many of you called Fictional Rome, which features a near complete annotated list of roughly 1500 titles of novels set in ancient Rome (http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page. cfm?siteID=78&pageID=1). There you can search the database, read reviews of novels, browse through essays and references on historical works, look up meanings of Latin words, and explore timelines. In 1972, Dr. Mench established the Classical Humanities Society of South Jersey, which is the longest running lecture series at Stockton. As the founder and a former president, Dr. Mench’s goal was to scholars to south Jersey to present In…,” which offered a Saturday session each fall and spring: professors and guests from other disciplines worked on topics such as how the Romans operated in Germania, Hispania, Dacia, Gallia, and Britannia; participants ranged from pre-collegiate teachers of Latin, German, Spanish, French and English, and even a native Romanian (teaching French).  As his daughter said, “before he was a Greek scholar he was a Greek god.” Dr. Mench, along with Dr. Tom Papaedemetriou, established the Interdisciplinary Center for Hellenic Studies at Stockton and served as its first executive director. The aims of the ICHS are to promote and assist in the study and teaching of Hellenism through the many fields that define Greek civilization and culture such as language, literature, history, archaeology, art, philosophy, politics, and anthropology.  Dr. Fred Mench spearheaded numerous programs that continue to the present day to spread Greco-Roman culture at Stockton and in south Jersey. We thank him greatly for his guidance, initiative, hard work, and dedication. In an essay entitled “On Listening to Lectures,” Plutarch, ancient Greek historian, biographer and essayist, wrote: “For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.” A gifted teacher, therefore, does not merely fill his or her student with information, but ignites their independent thinking and a quest for truth. Dr. Fred Mench, according to Plutarch, is a firestarter. He has lit the flame for learning in his students, which continues to burn brightly in south Jersey.

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