Haverford Faculty: Inspiring Future Generations of Students
Haverford’s academic excellence and high student achievement hinges upon its faculty. Today’s students benefit from some 135 scholars—all exceptional teachers and all at the top of their fields. Since the College’s founding, the student-faculty ratio has remained low (currently 9:1), and faculty blend mentorship with collaboration, resulting in an extraordinary academic experience for students. The faculty members featured in this issue chose to perpetuate their own Haverford legacy by supporting the College’s mission through planned gifts. Their generosity and foresight enabled the College to broaden the curriculum, expand opportunities for students, and beautify the campus.
Elisa & Manuel Asensio
After fleeing from Spain at the end of that country’s Civil War, Elisa and Manuel Asensio came to Haverford College, where Manuel began teaching Spanish in 1941. Manuel started graduate work in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, earning his master’s degree in Spanish literature in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1955 with a dissertation on Lazarillo de Tormes. When they first arrived at Haverford, Elisa and Manuel became the “house parents” for a group of students enrolled in the Relief and Reconstruction Master’s Program. By 1948, they were the first faculty residents of La Casa (known then as La Casa Española and Williams House), which under their guidance became the residential focus for the study of Spanish and Spanish-American cultures for over two decades. During their 24-year tenure, the Asensios welcomed students to their apartment on Sunday afternoons for tea and conversation, a tradition remembered fondly by generations of Haverfordians who experienced the community of La Casa while gaining fluency in Spanish.
The Manuel J. and Elisa P. Asensio Scholarship Fund was established through a bequest in the Asensios’ will and by a charitable gift annuity. Today, that fund assists students with demonstrated financial need. Preference is given to Spanish majors, students from Spain, or students who are Spanish-speaking, like Natalie Legros ’14. Natalie chose to major in Spanish with a double minor in linguistics and Chinese. She spent her junior fall semester studying in Spain and served as the La Casa dorm representative to Students’ Council. Her senior thesis examined the writing of contemporary author Junot Díaz.
Louis C. & Elizabeth Green
Louis C. Green taught astronomy at Haverford from 1941–76 and served in a number of administrative positions, including director of the College’s Strawbridge Observatory, chairman of the Department of Astronomy, and director of computing. He became the College’s first provost, and in the summer of 1967 served as acting president. He earned his degrees from Princeton University. Elizabeth Ufford Green, Louis’s wife, served as a research biologist at Haverford from 1957–80.
Through their estate planning—which included a trust under will, a charitable gift annuity, and a pooled income fund—Louis and Elizabeth created four funds: The Green Acquisition and Technology Fund for the Science Library supports collections and resources for the study of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. The Louis Green Visitors Fund in Religious Thought makes possible the annual visit of a public figure working on major social issues within a religious tradition. The Elizabeth Ufford Green Professorship in Natural Sciences is currently held by biology professor Judith Owen. The Green Research Fellowship for Faculty and Students provides funding for faculty and students to attend conferences and other meetings related to research topics. In summer 2014, the fund supported interdisciplinary media fellowships for four students. Working with Artist-in-Residence Vicky Funari, the students produced a short documentary film on chemistry professor Helen White’s work with her students to study the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The ten-week project included two field trips to film the research conducted along the Gulf Coast.
John Spielman began his Haverford career as a professor of history in 1959, served as dean of the College from 1966–68, and was clerk of the faculty for several years. He received his B.A. at the University of Montana and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin. In 1982, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation awarded him its distinguished teaching fellowship. From 1984–87, he was the first John and Audrey Dusseau Memorial Professor in the Humanities at Haverford and specialized in early modern Europe with an interest in the late Hapsburg Empire, about which he published several books. John’s distinctive approach to academic study inspired generations of Haverford students; he originated the Department of History’s most famous course, the Junior Seminar on Evidence. At the beginning of the course, he would present approximately a dozen historical objects (e.g. map, bootspur, etc.), ask students to pick one and write a research paper on the historical significance of the selected item.
John’s bequest to Haverford was unrestricted and has been used to support faculty in the Tri-College Environmental Studies Interdisciplinary Minor—a program that embraces the tradition of exploration that John fostered as an integral part of a Haverford education.
Douglas & Dorothy Steere
Douglas Steere, a former Rhodes Scholar, received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University and published extensively on topics in Quaker philosophy and history. He taught philosophy at several institutions, including Haverford College from 1928–64. He and his wife, Dorothy, were prominent figures of the Quaker movement in the twentieth century and deeply committed to the causes of peace and spiritual enrichment. This commitment led to their involvement with Quaker-led relief work after World War II, Quaker spiritual retreats, international diplomacy, and Dorothy’s work with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The couple was instrumental in planning Pendle Hill, the Quaker study center located in Wallingford, PA.
Proceeds from the Steeres’ pooled income fund benefitted The Quaker Dimension Fund, which has been used for Quaker-related library acquisitions and campus programming.
Howard M. Teaf, Jr.
Howard Teaf joined Haverford’s Department of Economics in 1932 and served as chair from 1948–63. After becoming a professor emeritus in 1971, he became acting director of alumni relations for several years. In addition to teaching, he also worked as an arbitrator for much of his career, and many of his cases championed teachers. He was also a planner of The Quadrangle retirement community in Haverford, where he lived from 1988–91. A member of the Society of Friends, Howard served the American Friends Service Committee through fieldwork both in the United States and abroad. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning all of his degrees there. Howard specialized in microeconomic policy analysis in labor and corporation finance. Today, the student-run Teaf Business Society, named in his honor, furnishes the Haverford College community with the latest business information and resources.
A bequest from Howard’s estate benefitted The Fund for Development of Natural Beauty of Haverford Campus, which is managed by the Arboretum. His commitment to campus beautification was evident prior to his bequest when he funded and helped to design a Zen garden (adjoining the Dining Center) in memory of his wife, Gertrude Chattin Teaf.