Moore installed as John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professor of Classics

Penelope and John Biggs visit with Timothy J. Moore, PhD, right, at a ceremony celebrating Moore’s installation as the inaugural John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professor of Classics in Arts & Sciences. (Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos)

Timothy J. Moore, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was installed as the inaugural John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professor of Classics.

The professorship was established in 2002 with generous gifts from distinguished Washington University alumni John and Penelope Biggs. The Biggses were among the special guests who attended the ceremony last November where Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton presented Moore with a university medallion to celebrate the occasion.

“Our students and the Washington University community will benefit tremendously from John and Penelope’s steadfast support of the classics. I am extraordinarily grateful to them for establishing this distinguished professorship,” Wrighton said. “Endowed professorships constitute a direct investment in academic excellence as exemplified by the inaugural holder of the Biggs Distinguished Professorship, Professor Timothy J. Moore.”

Moore joined Washington University in July 2012 from the University of Texas at Austin, where he had served as a professor of classics since 1991 and chair of the Department of Classics from 2002-04. From 1986-1991, he was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University and then spent a year as a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard University.

He earned a doctoral degree in classics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986 and a bachelor’s degree in Latin and history, summa cum laude, from Millersville University in 1981.

Moore’s work focuses on classical antiquity, including the comic theater of Greece and Rome, Greek and Roman music and Roman historiography.

His current projects include articles on the music in two plays of the Roman comic playwright Terence and a long-range project on the influence on the modern world of the Roman historian Livy. His interests also include the history of theater, especially American musical theater and Japanese Kyogen comedy. In the fall, he plans to teach a course on ancient Greek and Roman music – a first for WUSTL.

Moore’s speech at the installation ceremony, “Building Bridges in Classical Studies,” touched on a theme dear to him: bringing together different skills and academic disciplines to study classics.

One of Moore’s goals is to create a doctoral degree in classics, working with other departments like history, performing arts and philosophy, for example.

Moore said it’s important to study classic Greek and Roman culture because they have a strong influence on the modern world, in everything from the calendar we use to the design of buildings.

“Studying ancient Greeks and Romans is in some ways like studying ourselves,” he said. But at the same time, he said, such study also allows for an appreciation of diversity because elements of that world were much different from our own.

Cambridge University Press published his most recent book, Music in Roman Comedy, in 2012. Moore’s other books are Roman Theatre (also from Cambridge University Press, 2012); The Theater of Plautus: Playing to the Audience (University of Texas Press, 1998); and Artistry and Ideology: Livy’s Vocabulary of Virtue (Athenäum Press, 1989).

He also has written numerous articles and book chapters and received various awards, including a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship in 2011, a Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome and a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship.

Moore, who has organized various scholarly events, most recently served as co-director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College Teachers: “Roman Comedy in Performance” in 2012.

George Pepe, PhD, former department chair and also a professor of classics, said Moore brings the right skills and is a welcome addition.

“We were extremely fortunate to lure Tim away from University of Texas. He’s a very distinguished scholar in Latin literature and a first-rate teacher,” Pepe said. “He brings with him the right blend of scholarship and administrative experience to lead the department successfully.”

About John and Penelope Biggs

Both John and Penelope Biggs are longtime friends of the university, alumni of Arts & Sciences with a dedication to keeping the classics alive.

For more than 20 years, WUSTL has benefited from a residency in the classics department created by the Biggses, whereby a prominent scholar in Greek or Latin studies visits the university for a week to teach and promote an area of the classics. In 2002, the couple made a commitment to establish the John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professorship in Classics. They also have established a distinguished professorship in economics.

Native St. Louisan John Biggs is an eminent economist with a lifelong interest in advancing education. He earned a bachelor’s degree in classics from Harvard, and his first job was with General American Life Insurance Co., where he ascended through the ranks. He also served as vice chancellor for finance and administration at WUSTL from 1977-1985, when he became president and chief executive officer of Centerre Trust Inc.

During his tenure at Washington University, he earned a doctorate in economics and taught classes in the department.

He later served as chief executive officer of investment company TIAA-CREF, and led the company until retiring in 2002.

Since his retirement, Biggs has remained active in corporate, community and professional associations.

Penelope Biggs graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in classics from Radcliffe College, where she first met John while he was a student at Harvard.

She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in comparative literature from Washington University in 1968 and 1974, respectively. She joined the faculty of Lindenwood College (now University) as an assistant professor of literature.

Later, she taught Latin at the high school now known as Mary Institute Country Day School. Her writings on classical and post-classical literature have been published in scholarly journals.

John and Penelope Biggs are members of Washington University’s Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level and life members of the Danforth Circle Dean’s Level. Together, they received the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2009.

John Biggs is an emeritus trustee of the university and received the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal in 2005. He also received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2011 and a New York Regional Award in 2006 for outstanding professional achievements and service to Washington University. John currently serves on the Arts & Sciences National Council, as a volunteer for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, and as an honorary member of the New York City Regional Cabinet.