Passings: Professor Emeritus Randy Scott

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A stack of books

The following tribute to Professor Emeritus Randy Scott, a Fellow of Founders College and a long-serving faculty member in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was submitted to YFile by York Professor Gabriella Colussi-Arthur and Queen’s University Vice-Provost and Dean Fahim Quadir, School of Graduate Studies. Professor Scott died in early November. 

Randy Scott
Randy Scott

Randy Scott served at York University for 45 years, beginning in 1972 when he served as both a sessional instructor in the Department of French Literature and the assistant to the Dean in the former Atkinson College.

His work in administration was highly prized, but by 1980 he made the move permanently to teaching in the newly formed combined program of French and Italian Program in the Department of Humanities, Atkinson College and seconded to the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (Italian Section).

Professor Scott earned his BA, MA and PhD in a combined French & Italian Literature program at the University of Toronto and was perfectly trilingual in English, French and Italian and also conducted research in Latin, Old French, and Provençal. He transferred permanently to the Italian Section of Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in 1996 and contributed fully to teaching courses in language, literature, and culture.

While at Atkinson, he created courses both in French Studies and in Italian. He was renowned for introductory language pedagogy, having launched Elementary Italian, which attracted very high enrolment among mature students for evening classes. He added courses in Issues and Themes in Italian Culture; Great Writers and Thinkers on Dante, Erasmus, and Rousseau and beginning in 1995 he collaborated with Professor Emerita Rita Belladonna, herself an Italian Renaissance expert and internationally renowned scholar, on Aspects of Italian Culture, attracting hundreds of students when it was extensively revised as a 9.0-credit Foundations course in the former Faculty of Arts.

Last, but not least, he remedied a notable gap in the program by creating the course titled, “Italian Philosophical and Political Thought”. Those were heady days for the Italian Studies program.

As a member of the Italian Section, Scott was the embodiment of collegiality, a gentle, kind, empathetic soul, whose care and consideration for his fellow colleagues and Founders Fellows, was exemplary. Never a word out of turn, never an improper gesture, only a warm, large smile and, when necessary, a soft, but firm word; in other words, a gentleman in every way.

What made Scott a truly exceptional human being was his commitment to building an inclusive community in Founders College. In his eyes, the college was anything but an ordinary space to manage routine office work; it was, instead, a hub for creative social engagements that could effectively bring people together from different academic backgrounds; bridging disciplinary, ethnic and geographic divides alike. He would eagerly await any opportunity to extend a warm welcome to new faculty to Founders College. With a gracious smile, he would knock on the door of the new colleague and offer his unequivocal support to smooth out the individual’s transition. Making such personal connections to colleagues was his passion. It didn’t matter if the colleague was from a different department or was 20 years his junior; Scott would take a keen interest in learning about the individual in question and would go out of his way, on every occasion, to foster a respectful relationship with him or her. He was remarkably generous in mentoring junior faculty and doing everything in his capacity to set them up for success. His fellow faculty members at York University will always remember him fondly as both a colleague and friend and he will be dearly missed.

He had a great passion for Italian Studies and taught with great insight and dedication, writing out detailed notes in longhand and with impeccable calligraphy, which is truly a lost art.

Randy Scott’s students and colleagues loved him. He will be greatly missed.