Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Wofford College establishes John C. Cobb Endowed Chair

September 9, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The establishment of the John C. Cobb Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Wofford College was announced today at the college’s opening convocation. Dr. John C. Cobb, a beloved professor in humanities and English since 1994 and a 1976 Wofford graduate, died this summer in a tragic automobile accident.

Dr. Cobb’s sister, Ann Cobb Johnson of Spartanburg, S.C., provided the $2.5 million to establish the endowed chair in his memory.

“Dr. Cobb was an exemplary member of the Wofford faculty, a gifted teacher, respected and admired by colleagues, students, alumni and all others who knew him,” says Dr. Benjamin Dunlap, Wofford’s president, in announcing the gift. “The recipient of this major endowed chair must be an excellent, energetic, and caring teacher-scholar with a passion for teaching students in and out of the classroom – just as John Cobb did during his 10-year career at Wofford. The holder of this chair should be a person who excites and inspires students to excel.” The professor will be expected to provide outstanding academic strength in the humanities, with primary preference for English and literature, Dunlap adds.

The president and dean of the college, Dan Maultsby, will conduct a national search for the professor.

Dr. Cobb was killed in a single-car accident on July 1, 2004, in Pawley’s Island, S.C., where he had a summer home. A 1976 Wofford graduate, he joined the Wofford English department in 1994. He earned two master’s degrees and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

He helped develop and directed the college’s freshman reading program, The Novel Experience, an innovative program in which the incoming freshman class reads a selected novel, discusses it over dinner with their humanities classmates in local restaurants, then are able to hear from the author during a convocation on campus.

Dr. Cobb was the coordinator of the Wofford humanities program, and also taught in Wofford’s Presidential Seminar, a program for graduating seniors distinguished for their academic achievement and contributions to the college community.

Last fall, he presented a paper, titled “‘Henry V’ and Historical Imagination: A Case for the Chorus,” at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. He served as Renaissance Chair for the organization. He also served as a panelist for the Shakespeare Festival at Converse College and as the outside evaluator for the department of English at Catawba College.

He was a member of a local band, “The 88s.”

Dr. Cobb was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, where he was a frequent lector.