Richard Bizot


 Richard Bizot

Richard Bizot can recall the early days at UNF when theatrical performances were presented in a tent pitched in a parking lot. Since then many new facilities have been built on campus.


One of those programs has been the John Francis Reilly Irish Studies Performance and Lecture Series, which Bizot organized in 1995. The reaction Bizot has received to the series is indicative of how the university and the community have grown together over the last 25 years.


The quarter century has seen many transitions for Bizot. "I remember the first time I saw the campus and how bleak it seemed; barely finished buildings in a sea of sand, no landscaping at all," he recalls. "I remember seeing deer and alligators and armadillos and snakes on campus and once wild pigs, back when it was more their territory than ours."

Today the campus is considerably less wild. But one thing which has not changed is the quality of the students. "The positive impression I formed early on of UNF's students has been continually renewed. They are serious about what they are doing, eager to learn and endlessly appreciative; a joy to teach."


Bizot came to UNF in July of 1972 from the University of Notre Dame where he had taught for seven years. Although he was exposed to Irish heritage at Notre Dame, his interest in Irish Studies started even before he came to UNF. His master's thesis at the University of Virginia was on William Butler Yeats. He became a professor at UNF in 1977 in the Department of Language & Literature. He was chairman of the department from 1984 to 1986 and graduate coordinator from 1992 to 1996.


During that time, Bizot has designed and taught numerous courses in Irish Studies including seminars on Yeats and James Joyce and separate courses on Irish poetry, fiction and drama. Through the generosity of the Schultz Foundation, Bizot has been able to establish what may eventually become one of the nation's leading centers of Irish studies.


The Irish Studies Program like the University in general is coming of age.