Colby is mourning the death of Emeritus Professor of English and American Studies Charles W. Bassett, who died Oct. 19 in Waterville following a Colby career that began in 1969.
A funeral will be held on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 9 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street in Waterville, followed by a reception at Colby, under a tent near the soccer field, from 1 to 3 p.m.
In a letter to the community, President William D. Adams pointed to Bassett’s many contributions to Colby. “I hardly need to tell anyone receiving this message what a profound impact he had on the College, on his students, and on his colleagues. It is entirely fitting that an award given each year by the senior class to a member of Colby’s faculty, an award that celebrates outstanding teaching, is named for Charlie; he will be remembered by many Colby alumni as the finest teacher they encountered on Mayflower Hill,” Adams wrote.
Adams highlighted Bassett’s work building the American Studies Program, “which he built into a nationally recognized model for such programs at liberal arts colleges. Eugene Leach of Trinity College said of Colby’s program under Charles’ leadership, ‘The achievement was, in short, to build in the space of less than a decade a program that inspired more enthusiasm among its students, and more loyalty among contributing faculty (despite all their competing academic audiences), than any other small-college program I have ever seen.’ Professor Leach–in a letter he wrote in 1994 in support of an award nomination–put his finger, too, on how the achievement happened: ‘The heart of it was Charlie’s teaching,’ he wrote, ‘passionate, engaged, learned, light-hearted but firmly holding to serious purposes, attentive to students’ interests and needs while also holding students to the highest of standards.'”
Bassett retired in 2000 as Lee Family Professor of English and American Studies but continued to teach part time in the Integrated Studies Program for another half-decade. He contributed an occasional column to the Echo titled “I’m Never Going to Retire” and played host to a WMHB radio program specializing in jazz and swing music.
Bassett’s obituary is in the Oct. 22 Morning Sentinel.
More about Bassett’s legacy is available in a Colby magazine article written on the eve of his retirement.
To listen to the 2008 Bassett-Boylan Halloween reading, click here.