Joe Skerrett joined the University of Massachusetts English department in 1973 where he taught courses in African American Literature, Multi-Ethnic Literature and courses in the American studies program which he chaired for a time. He was the author of several books, most recently the widely-used, Literature, Race and Ethnicity: Contesting American Identities (Longmans). He was an authority on the writer James Purdy. He also published numerous scholarly articles and delivered many presentations at professional conferences.
"I applied to the MFA program because I wanted to write, but like many people, I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own. Going back to graduate school for the second time in a completely different discipline was a major decision, but one that felt necessary in order to bring my desire to write into balance with my desire to help others."
Jim Freeman, who retired last spring, was a member of our department for forty-seven years. An accomplished classicist, he translated numerous works from Greek and Latin and regularly taught a popular graduate course on classical influences on English literature. His research and teaching took him to several international venues, in Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands.