Barchi announces death of Cheryl Wall, Rutgers professor

Rutgers Board of Governors and Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English Cheryl Wall focused her scholarship on Black women writers. 
Photo by VimeoRutgers Board of Governors and Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English Cheryl Wall focused her scholarship on Black women writers. 

Rutgers Board of Governors and Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English Cheryl Wall died this past weekend, according to a University-wide email sent by University President Robert L. Barchi. 

“Wall represented the very best of Rutgers: a world-class intellect whose scholarship advanced the conversation about African American literature and whose teaching and guidance inspired her students to think in new ways,” Barchi said, according to the email. 

Wall came to Rutgers in 1972 after studying at Howard University and Harvard University. She was an expert on Black women writers, especially Zora Neale Hurston, Barchi said, according to the email.

Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy said Wall helped strengthen the English Department and encouraged students to appreciate the humanities, according to a separate University-wide email. She also helped set up the graduate program within the department. 

“(Wall) was an instrumental member of the School of Arts and Sciences (English Department) where her contributions have become the essence of the school and our institution,” Molloy said, according to the email. “While her intellect, profound teaching excellence and passion for literature made her an exceptional professor, it was her mentorship, guidance and ongoing dedication to her students, colleagues and Rutgers University that set her apart.”

During her time at the University, Wall won various awards from the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching to the Daniel Gorenstein Memorial Award for scholarly achievement and exceptional service to the University, according to the email. 

“She cared about everyone — her students, her colleagues, the University, our society — and made us all better,” Barchi said, according to the email.

Barchi said Wall planned to retire this year and the University will hold a memorial event when the coronavirus disease pandemic comes to an end, according to the email. 

“I know from experience that she was a trusted and candid advisor to Rutgers administrations throughout her career,” he said, according to the email. “To these efforts, she brought intellectual honesty, an openness to new paths and a dedication to making Rutgers a stronger, more inclusive place.”