David Minter, a longtime professor of English, passed away on Aug. 21. One of the foremost Faulkner scholars in the country, Minter also served as interim vice provost, university librarian and college magister at both Baker and Jones Colleges with his wife Caroline.
According to Caroline Levander, vice president for strategic initiatives and digital education and the Carlson Professor in the Humanities, Minter’s numerous roles at Rice are a testament to his deep care for the Rice community.
“He was a remarkable person in that he was a university citizen of precious value; it’s rare to find such a sterling person in so many facets of faculty life,” Levander said.
Minter retired in 2002 as the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor Emeritus of English. Before coming to Rice, Minter received his doctorate from Yale University where he stayed as an assistant professor of English until 1967. Minter left Rice in 1980 to become dean of Emory College at Emory University, where he was later appointed vice president for arts and sciences.
Minter returned to Rice in 1990 as the Libbie Shearn Moody Professor of English. Levander (’95), who received her doctorate from Rice while under Minter’s direction, said Minter’s return happened at the same time as the expansion of Rice’s English department.
“It was an exciting time in that department and he was a big part of that; he had a group of graduate students who ended up being faculty at Hopkins, Yale, Brown and Berkeley. [So,] he launched this whole generation of American [literary scholars],” Levander said.
Levander, while an assistant professor at Rice, led the fundraising for the David and Caroline Minter Endowment for Rice’s Department of English. The endowment funds student prizes, research projects and the development of new courses. According to Levander, fundraising was effortless due to Minter’s influential nature and positive rapport with others.
“[Fundraising] was easy because people loved him so much,” Levander said. “Faculty trusted him, administrators trusted him — he was one of those people that everyone felt good about and [those people] are rare.”
Close friend and former student Carolyn Porter (’67) said Minter will be remembered by a myriad of qualities.
“His brilliance, his impeccable honesty, his open-minded curiosity, his open-hearted generosity — all these stand out, as they stood out, day to day, year to year,” Porter, an English professor at Berkeley, said. “He came to represent a kind of standard of intellectual integrity.”
According to Porter, Minter dramatically impacted her life.
“My life would not only have been different had I not been David's student, it would have been immeasurably impoverished,” Porter said.
Minter, a native of Midland, Texas, grew up in Gonzales and Woodville, Texas. Graveside services were held Aug. 22 at Magnolia Cemetery in Woodville.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Caroline Minter, son Chris Minter, daughter Frances Epstein and her husband Jeff, and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Rice Memorial Chapel on Oct. 9 at 3 p.m.