Faculty Join Esteemed Ranks of Professors Emeriti

Faculty Join Esteemed Ranks of Professors Emeriti


Rice News Staff
May 13, 1999

From rock bands and hot food–not to mention courses on television, sex and dying–to Shakespeare plays and innovative language classes, a trio of Rice faculty has spent more than a quarter of a century contributing to campus lore, helping them earn emeritus status this year.

Graciela Daichman in Hispanic and cultural studies, Chad Gordon in sociology and William Piper in English have joined the ranks of retired professors, adding a new dimension to their distinctive and distinguished academic careers.

Graciela Daichman

Rice has been home to Daichman since 1972 when she started working on her master’s degree in Spanish, which she earned in 1975–the same year she became a lecturer in the university’s department of Hispanic and classical studies. Along with her teaching load, Daichman continued her education at Rice, earning a Ph.D. in English in 1983.

Daichman has spent the better part of 25 years on campus as a language instructor, concentrating on the art and mechanics of Spanish-English translation. She taught a generation of students the techniques of consecutive and simultaneous interpretation.

Most recently, Daichman accepted the challenge to develop a technology-enhanced Spanish course, incorporating the well-known “Destinos” video/text program.

“In short, professor Daichman has been a mainstay of the undergraduate Hispanic studies program for decades and a pioneer in technology-enhanced pedagogy at Rice in the final years of her career,” said Lane Kaufmann, associate professor of Hispanic and classical studies. “Needless to say she will be greatly missed.”

Chad Gordon

The road to Rice for Gordon ran through Hollywood (California) High School in the early ’50s and Harvard University in the ’60s. The bicoastal influences on his career at Rice–which included being named the first chair of the university’s sociology department–can’t be missed: during the ’70s he led a rock band aptly named “Chi Square and the Degrees of Freedom”; spearheaded a search for the hottest food in the city through the auspices of the “Hot Food Club”; and taught courses on topics ranging from “death and dying” to “sexuality and the social order” (commonly known as “Sexwith Chad”).

“When word began to spread that Chad was retiring, students appealed to the sociology department to try to get him to stay on, noting that they consider it a vital part of their education to take one of his courses,” said fellow sociology professor Bill Martin. “At the last meeting of his sexuality class, members of the department each made a statement about his contributions over the years, and the students presented him with a huge poster they had signed with the central message being ‘I had ‘Sex’ with Chad and it was good for me.'”

William Piper

Piper arrived at Rice in 1969 as an English professor. His academic credentials included an undergraduate degree from Harvard University (1951), a master’s degree from Columbia University (1952) and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin (1958).

Over the years, Piper encouraged graduate students to submit papers to conferences and journals and, following that theme, he founded the Graduate Symposium, a yearly event organized by students at which they, and faculty, present papers.

While his stage at Rice has primarily been the classroom, he ventured out onto a more public platform in 1978, performing the role of Holofernes in a Baker Shakespeare production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

“Professor Piper was an example to us, as well, in his careful scholarship and commitment to his research in 18th century literature,” said Thad Logan, a graduate student taught by Piper in the ’70s and now a lecturer in the English department.

“He has long been an advocate of good writing and in recent years has taught a course in expository writing that students consider excellent,” she added. “Like a man of the 18th century, Bill is passionate about good sense and clarity.”

About admin