In 2001, Dorothy Eliason established the Norman and Dorothy Eliason Distinguished Professorship in English, along with the Dorothy and Norman Eliason Summer Dissertation Fellowship Fund. She says she established the funds in the Department of English for one simple reason – “I wanted the world to know my husband was a great teacher,” she said.

Her gift of $1 million created the Dorothy and Norman Eliason distinguished professorship and the Dorothy and Norman Eliason summer dissertation fellowship fund. Both funds benefit the English department and honor her husband, Norman Ellsworth Eliason, a Kenan professor of English who passed away in 1991.

The professorship was endowed with $666,000 from Eliason’s $1 million gift and received $333,000 from the state’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to bring the value of the professorship to $1 million. The remainder of the gift established the summer dissertation fellowship fund. The first grant was awarded in summer 2002.

Dorothy Eliason accompanied her husband to Chapel Hill in 1946 when Norman Eliason, an internationally known linguist and medievalist, joined the UNC faculty. She had supported Norman as he pursued his education. As his career took off, Dorothy accompanied him from Indiana University to the University of Florida and then to UNC. The couple traveled farther afield when Eliason taught as a visiting professor at several universities in the United States and abroad, including summer stints at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Washington, the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and King’s College, part of the University of London.

Erika Lindemann, professor of English at UNC, came to Carolina as a graduate student in 1968, and Norman Eliason was her advisor. She remembers him as a good critic and an excellent scholar of Old English poetry. He published three books during his career: English Essays, Literary and Linguistic (1975), The Language of Chaucer’s Poetry (1972) and Tar Heel Talk (1956). During his 30-year tenure, Eliason taught almost every graduate student who came through the English department.

“He was formidable at first, but the more you got to know him the more committed he was to helping you through the tasks that graduate school requires,” Lindemann said. “I am grateful to Mrs. Eliason for remembering my mentor in this way.”

From a fall 2001 Carolina Connections article titled “Eliason Professorship Honors a Great Teacher and Scholar” by Kristina Casto ’01.

The Norman and Dorothy Eliason Distinguished Professor:

Todd W. Taylor