English professor and Berkeley College Master John Rogers ’84 GRD ’89 is not only renowned for his prowess as an author, but also for having brought prestige to the Berkeley Dining Hall, which he helped go all-organic this fall.
“He’s put a lot of effort into improving the college,” Berkeleyite Timothy Condon ’05 said. “The Berkeley dining hall’s superiority is due to him.”
Rogers is so adept at fulfilling his dual responsibilities as a master and a scholar who specializes in such authors as Milton and Spenser that many colleagues and students said they would be sad to see him as Yale College dean instead.
“He’s doing a great job as master of Berkeley, and is also a good teacher, and it seems to me he loves both jobs,” English professor and former Ezra Stiles College Master Traugott Lawler said. “So I say, let somebody else be dean; keep John where he is.”
English Department Chair Ruth Yeazell said Rogers’ numerous abilities as a teacher, scholar and colleague would make him an “excellent dean.”
“Though he’s one of the youngest full professors in the English Department, his engaging and learned lectures on Milton are already something of a legend at Yale,” she said. “His energy, good judgment and warmth made him an obvious choice for a master.”
Rogers declined to comment.
Rogers relinquished his post as director of undergraduate studies of English in July 2001 to become the eighth master of Berkeley College. In the two years that followed, Rogers and his wife, Cornelia Pearsall ’84, became popular with Berkeley students for their innovative projects. In addition to supporting the organic food movement with Pearsall, Rogers spearheaded the “Recipes from Home” project, which subsequently became popular in other dining halls.
Jimmy Chang ’04, a Berkeley Student Activities Committee member, enumerated some of Rogers’ other contributions to the college, including what he said was the most popular — a free, annual trip to the New York Metropolitan Opera.
“[Rogers] has an excellent rapport with his students and frequently comes out to student body activities, including intramurals anad tailgates, and even parties,” Chang said.
Erica Bergman ’06 said Rogers makes an extra effort to offer his services to students during exam periods by baking cookies and bringing them to the library, where he ensures that students are “still sane.”
“He also gets students excited about the college by bringing in people like Alice Waters,” she said.
Condon said he thinks Rogers’ dedication to improving Berkeley and his devotion to its inhabitants demonstrate his qualifications to take on a larger role in the Yale community.
“I think he would do an excellent job [as dean],” Condon said. “The council would be hard-pressed to find someone better.”
Rogers has won numerous awards, including the Modern Language Association Prize for a First Book in 1987, for “The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry and Politics in the Age of Milton.”
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