Lecturer Antonio Calvo passes away
Faculty member Antonio Calvo passed away in New York City last week. Calvo was a senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures and served as director of both the department’s Spanish language program and the Princeton in Spain summer program in Toledo, Spain.
Calvo was also an academic adviser in Butler College, where he regularly participated in the Spanish language table and was, according to Butler Director of Studies Matthew Lazen, “the sweetest man you could ever meet.”
Molly Bagshaw ’13, a former student of Calvo and one of his Butler advisees, explained that Calvo stood out because of his passion and dedication. “Antonio had a huge impact on me, in terms of both my academic career and love of the Spanish language,” Bagshaw said. “If it weren’t for his advice and counseling, I probably wouldn’t be pursuing a certificate in the department or going to Peru this summer, two things I am extremely excited about.”
During his time as director of Princeton in Spain, Calvo also grew close with many students who said he was one of the best parts of their experience abroad.
“He really treated his students like human beings, and he really made the effort to understand us as young people,” said Phyllis Heitjan ’11, who attended the summer program with Calvo several years ago.
The vibrant personality his students loved is evident in his faculty webpage on the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures website. Besides his academic focus on linguistics, heritage language teaching, poetics, the arts of the Harlem Renaissance and the history of language, Calvo said that his “other areas of interest” included the music of Greg Ogsby and Lupe Fiasco, photography and “hiking and excursions from Montauk to Rhode Island’s coast, stopping at Block Island.”
His passion and care for his students also stood out for his fellow staff members. “Having known and worked with Antonio Calvo for many years, his dedication to the students was most apparent,” said Beth Heisler, the undergraduate coordinator for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures. “He put tireless effort into the undergraduate language program. Words seem inadequate to express the feelings of great personal loss.”
No details about Calvo’s death have been made public. Students in Calvo’s Butler advising group and in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures received emails on Friday night reporting that Calvo had passed away earlier in the week, and the University also posted a statement on its website on Friday evening announcing that it was planning a memorial for Calvo.
“The announcement posted on the University homepage is the extent of information available,” University spokeswoman Emily Aronson said in an email. “More details about the memorial service will be announced when they are finalized.”
According to the University statement, Calvo was on leave from the University at the time of his death, though he is listed as teaching SPA 307: Advanced Spanish Language and Style this semester on the Registrar’s website. Several students in his Spanish class said they were still confused about Calvo’s sudden leave of absence two weeks ago.
“He wasn’t there last Friday and there was no email or anything explaining why he was gone,” said Rachele Gyorffy ’13, one of his students. “Our sub on Monday just said that he was taking time off for personal reasons and that he didn’t know how long Antonio would be gone.”
Calvo studied at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid as an undergraduate, focusing on Hispanic linguistics. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian literatures from the City University of New York. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2000 as a lecturer, becoming director of Princeton in Spain in 2007 and a senior lecturer and program director in 2008.
As the memorial plans are finalized, community members say they will continue to remember Calvo as a teacher and a friend. As Princeton in Spain attendee Zach Goldman ’12 explained, “Antonio was the single best professor I’ve ever had.”