An influence on generations of students, UVM’s Betty Bandel dies at 95

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(Host) Betty Bandel, a longtime University of Vermont English professor, has died at the age of 95.

She influenced generations of students at UVM with her passion for Shakespeare.

VPR’s John Van Hoesen has more

(Van Hoesen) In 1935, after graduating from the University of Arizona, Betty Bandel took a job as a newspaper reporter at the Arizona Daily Star. She was also the women’s page editor.

According to the family obituary, in 1942 a friend came into the newsroom saying that a women’s army was being created and Bandel joined up. At one point she was acting deputy director of the WAC.

She arrived at UVM in 1947 and taught there for several decades, becoming something of a legend on campus. She was a professor of English and specialized in Shakespeare, holding the attention of students like Tom Slayton.

Slayton is editor emeritus of Vermont Life Magazine. He says it was an experience he’ll never forget.

(Slayton) She was an activist teacher. She was not a remote or scholarly person. Taking Shakespeare from Betty made you appreciate not only Shakespeare as a person but his characters as people. She made Shakespeare come alive in the classroom.

(Van Hoesen) Slayton also performed in the State House in a play Bandel wrote on Justin Smith Morrill, the Vermonter who authored the Land Grant Colleges Act.

(Slayton) Betty was careful to point out in the play that it was because of the Land Grant Colleges act that people like myself who came from a family that was rich in learning but not in money could go to college.

(Van Hoesen) Harry Orth taught American literature at UVM for several decades himself. He says Bandel had a big effect on the college.

(Orth): She was a wonderfully broadening influence… at the time the University was much more provincial than it is now she came with real credentials. …

(Van Hoesen) Orth says among her contributions was the installation of a sundial near the Old Mill.

(Orth) Simply because she was interested in so much.

(Van Hoesen) Betty Bandel is survived by a niece and many friends, including her longtime helper and collaborator, Sarah Dopp.

A memorial service will be held later this summer at UVM.

For VPR News, I’m John Van Hoesen.




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