Irene Winter retires

April 29, 2009

Professor Emerita Irene J. Winter, former William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts.

Barnard Medal of Distinction 2009
Preeminent scholar. Beloved teacher and prolific author. Expert on the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia. With enviable authority and depth of knowledge, you unfailingly bring the past to light.

Your own story begins right here in New York City, and your college years, even closer at Barnard. Class of 1960, you graduated with a B.A. in anthropology – the foundation thereby laid, you claim, for all that was to follow. A masters in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago and then back to Morningside Heights for a Columbia PhD in Art History. Your dissertation, “North Syria and Ivory Carving in the Early First Millennium B.C.” set the place and time and artistic focus for many a future exploration.

Your teaching has taken you from Queens College, City University to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. From New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts to the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge University. But it is at Harvard, where you have been on the faculty since 1988, that you continue to make an indelible mark. William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts since 1995. Department Chair from 1993 to 1996. Member of standing committees on Women, Archaeology, Sanskrit and Indian Studies, and World Religions. Cross-appointed in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Radcliffe Institute Fellow.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s you excavated in Iran at Godin Tepe and Hasanlu. More recently, you served on the Iraq Task Force of the Archaeological Institute of America. You have been active in encouraging efforts to recover and restore looted materials there, to control the plundering of sites, to preserve cultural heritage and the region’s rich history.

That you rarely leave a stone unturned is evidenced by your countless articles, reviews, and edited volumes. In a 1995 essay on Homer’s Phoenicians you wrote about the serendipity of scholarship – “a new perspective on one’s own material occasioned by an unusual lens.” Time and again, you bring this fresh vision to an ancient world.

Today, it is our distinct honor, our privilege, and a point of great pride to celebrate your scholarship. To welcome you back to our own land between two rivers. You have enriched the academic community that we at Barnard hold dear, and for that and so much more, we offer our deepest thanks.