Dr. Betty T. Bennett, distinguished professor of literature and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at American University, Washington, D.C., died at Sibley Hospital on Saturday, August 12, after an heroic five-year battle with lung cancer. She was 71.
A proud native of Brooklyn, New York, Betty graduated from Brooklyn College magna cum laude and later earned her MA and PhD from New York University in English and American literature. She was internationally recognized and frequently published as a major scholar of Romantic literature, doing authoritative work on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and on the Shelley Circle. She also served on numerous boards, held leadership positions in many scholarly societies, and directed conferences.
Betty Bennett served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at American University from 1985 through 1997. In 1997, she was named distinguished professor of literature. She had previously served as dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and acting provost of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and as assistant to the dean of the graduate school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Betty Bennett was a hard-hitting and resilient dean and a passionate spokesperson for the arts and sciences who contributed significantly to American University's prestige. As an administrator, scholar, and teacher, she had high standards to which she expected others to aspire. Her legendary poetry "slams" in one of her general education classes gave evidence of her ingenious and highly successful teaching.
Survivors include two sons, Peter Bennett of New York and Matthew Bennett of Los Angeles, and a brother, Marvin Edelman of New York, all of whom were at Betty Bennett's bedside at her death.
A memorial service will be held in Betty Bennett's honor on September 18, 2006, at 11:30 AM, on the campus of American University, at the Kay Spiritual Life Center, in Washington, D.C. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society and sent c/o Matthew Bennett, 11693 San Vicente Blvd. #801, Los Angeles, CA 90049.