In Memoriam: Marie Borroff, 1923-2019

Marie Borroff, Sterling Professor of English, Emerita at Yale University, passed away on July 5, 2019. She was 95 years old.

Dr. Borroff began her career in higher education at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1959, she became the first woman appointed to Yale’s department of English. In 1965, she was named a full professor of English, making her one of the first two women granted tenure in any department of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1991, she became the first woman to be named a Sterling Professor, the highest honor bestowed on a Yale faculty member.

As an academic, Dr. Borroff was a scholar of medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature. She is the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Stylistic and Metrical Study (Shoe String Press, 1962) and Language and the Poet: Verbal Artistry in Frost, Stevens and Moore (University of Chicago Press, 1979).

Throughout her career, Dr. Borroff received numerous awards from Yale including the Wilbur Cross Medal honoring distinguished alumni; the Phi Beta Kappa DeVane Medal for teaching; the Elizabethan Club Medal for Distinguished Service; and the inaugural Howard Lamar Award for faculty service from the Yale Alumni Association. She also had an endowed chair named in her honor, the Marie Borroff Professorship, and a scholarship fund created in her honor by an anonymous donor that awards financial aid to graduate students in English.

“Marie Borroff will be remembered not only because of her place in Yale history but because she exemplified excellence and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the university’s mission,” said Peter Salovey, president of Yale Uniersity and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology. “A superb scholar, dedicated educator, and exemplary community citizen, she mentored scores of students and made critical contributions on and beyond our campus through her writing, translation, and teaching. Yale mourns the passing of one of its greats.”

Dr. Borroff held a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She earned a Ph.D. in English literature and philology from Yale University.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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