Edward Mason Anthony Jr. Sept. 1, 1922 - July 12, 2015 Founding Chairman of Pitt's Linguistics Department, English Language Institute

By Carpenter, Mackenzie | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Edward Mason Anthony Jr. Sept. 1, 1922 - July 12, 2015 Founding Chairman of Pitt's Linguistics Department, English Language Institute


Carpenter, Mackenzie, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


If the University of Pittsburgh's campus sometimes resembles the United Nations, with students and professors strolling down Forbes Avenue chattering in different languages, Edward Mason Anthony Jr. is in no small way responsible for that.

When the Cleveland native was recruited to Pitt from the University of Michigan, Mr. Anthony, fluent in Spanish and Thai, had already written an influential book on the structure of language. At Pitt, he became founding chairman of its linguistics department and the English Language Institute, which a half-century later has graduated more than 13,000 students.

Mr. Anthony died Sunday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Sunrise of McCandless, an assisted living facility. He was 92.

"Mr. Anthony's arrival at Pitt in 1964 was a game-changing event for the university," said Alan Juffs, current chairman of the school's linguistics department, noting that the Ford Foundation awarded the school a $1.5 million grant to - as a news release issued at the time reported - "substantially expand the international character of Pitt's faculty, programs, activities and outlook."

Mr. Anthony took them at their word, founding the Less Commonly-Taught Languages Center at Pitt, including American Sign Language and Arabic. He also served as director of Pitt's Asian Studies program in the University Center for International Studies in 1976, "and brought uncounted Japanese executives to Pittsburgh to learn English, play softball and go to Pirate games," said his son, Ted Anthony.

More than that, his father taught perspicacity, patience and kindness, his son said. He recalled that his father took a rickety bus in 1951 to cross the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan after being invited there to teach by the education ministry, leaving his pregnant wife behind.

"When my mother had me, the lady in the bed next to hers in the maternity ward didn't believe she had a husband until a letter arrived with numerous stamps plastered all over it," said Jan Anthony, his daughter, of Wakefield, R. …

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