Ruler of history: Gerald Kadish retiring after 50 years

Photo by Jonathan Cohen.

After History Professor Gerald Kadish teaches his final class, Assessing the Tokugawa Era, on May 10, he will throw away the last of his notes and shred five decades’ worth of grade sheets, one for every student he has ever taught. After Commencement, he’ll decide what to do with the academic robes that his mother bought him. And there will be all those books to move. Books about ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and Japan. Books that can be measured in square yards and tons.

It’s easy to imagine that if his sixth-floor office were any higher, the Library Tower might tilt.

“He sits behind his desk, with mounds of books and all sorts of Egyptological paraphernalia spread about the room, and you sometimes feel like you’re talking to a sympathetic colleague and other times you feel like you’re talking to the high priest of Ma’at,” says Andrew Scholtz, associate professor and chair of the Classical and Near Eastern Studies Department.

Ma’at is the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, law, morality and justice, personified as a goddess who wears a single feather on her head.

“He’s fond of wearing a Ma’at feather pin,” Scholtz says.

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