In memoriam, Alice Davison

March 7, 2017 - 6:00pm

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Professor Emerita Alice Louise Davison on March 3, 2017. Joining the faculty in 1988, Alice was a stalwart in the Department until her retirement in 2015, after which she remained involved in mentoring student research and serving on a number of dissertation committees.

Alice was a highly regarded scholar of South Asian linguistics, focusing on the structure of Hindi, but had a long and varied career in linguistics. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1973, writing her dissertation on Performative verbs, felicity and adverbs, and focused her research efforts on syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and readability in addition to other topics. Alice gave countless conference and invited presentations of her scholarly work in India, as well as other international, national and more local venues. She was a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Varanasi, India, and she taught and conducted research at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages in Hyderabad, the University of Konstanz, the University of Illinois and SUNY Stony Brook, and held the prestigious National Science Foundation Visiting Professorship for Women at Cornell University during the 1989-90 academic year.

Closer to home, Alice taught both undergraduate and graduate classes but was particularly fond of her graduate Advanced Syntactic Theory class, which gave her the opportunity to guide students through the intricacies of Chomskyan theory. Many PhD qualifying papers and dissertations had their start as research papers in that class. She especially valued learning about other languages and research pertaining to them while participating in the development of students’ research.

As faculty associated with UI’s South Asia Studies Program, most years Alice was able to bring a linguist to campus for the colloquium series. A member of the Syntax Reading Group, Alice regularly met with Paula Kempchinsky, Roumyana Slabakova, Elena Gavruseva, and sometimes others to discuss recent journal articles. On top of all of this, Alice was past president of the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society and devotee of opera and vocal music.

Alice was a generous soul and an independent spirit and will be missed by her many friends and admirers.