North American Scholar

COBBS, Susan Parker

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1905-12-09
  • Born City: Anniston
  • Born State/Country: AL
  • Parents: William Addison & Mary M Stringfellow C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1975-09-28
  • Death City: Birmingham
  • Death State/Country: AL
  • Education:

    AB Randolph-Macon Woman's Coll, 1927; AM NYU, 1930; PhD U Chicago, 1937

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr Latin HS (Alexandria, VA), 1927-8; Phillips HS (Birmingham, AL), 1928-9; instr class Randolph-Macon Woman's Coll, 1930-1, 1932-9; adj prof 1939-40; Lat tchr St Catherine's Sch (Richmond, VA) 1931-2; Shipley Sch (Bryn Mawr, PA), 1940-1; asst prof, to prof Agnes Scott Coll, 1941-5; prof, class Swarthmore Coll, 1945-69; dean of women, 1945-62; dean of coll, 1962-9

  • Dissertation:

    “Prolegomena to the Ars Grammatica Tatuini” (Chicago, 1937)

  • Notes:

    Susan P. Cobbs, in almost a quarter of a century as Dean, set the impress of her firm and gracious character on Swarthmore College. With Courtney C. Smith, President of the College from 1953 until his tragic death during the occupation of the Admissions Office in 1969, she exemplified the highest ideals of intellectual and moral leadership. After the President's death, it was she who held the College together until the crisis was over. Her own intellectual life centered on the classics. However burdened she was with administration, she never failed to teach a course each semester, most often her favorites, Horace and Plautus, and her support for the classics during these years had a marked effect on the ethos of the College. It was Swarthmore's great good fortune, when it hired a Dean of Women in 1945, to acquire as part of the bargain a scholar who had studied palaeography with Beeson and Plautus with Prescott, and was qualified to serve as Swarthmore's expert on Latin manuscript hands, Roman comedy, and Vulgar Latin. Distinction as a classicist had already marked Susan Cobbs when she was graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1927. Her teachers, Mabel Whiteside and Herbert Lipscomb, were gratified, but not in the least surprised, when after her arrival in Chicago the word came back, “That Miss Cobbs of yours—she knows everything.” A brilliant scholar was lost to the profession when Susan Cobbs succumbed to deanship, but academic administration benefited immeasurably, while she herself gained new scope for the exercise of those qualities of mind and spirit that left an indelible mark on the Swarthmore of the fifties and sixties.When Miss Cobbs retired, it took three administrators to replace her, but for the Classics Department there could be no replacement of her unique collegial qualities, not the least of which was her gift for fitting the perfect Horatian tag to any occasion. How many committee meetings were summed up with Parturient montes! How many academic setbacks put in perspective with Aequam memento rebus in arduis! How many colleagues encouraged to make a hard decision with Iustum et tenacem propositi virum! A temperamental affinity to the poet of the Sabine Farm endowed Miss Cobbs with a genuinely Horatian animus--laetus in praesens--which contributed unforgettably to the enjoyment of life in what are now remembered as halcyon days at Swarthmore.

  • Sources:

    WhWh 1968-9: 449

  • Author: Helen F. North