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Farewell for Margaret Mullett

Posted On July 15, 2015 | 11:43 am | by meredithb | Permalink

On Monday, June 29, the Dumbarton Oaks community gathered to say farewell to Margaret Mullett, who is retiring after six years as Director of Byzantine Studies. Staff members and Fellows staged their send-off for Mullett at the pool, well known as one of her favorite places in the gardens. Editor in Byzantine Studies Joel Kalvesmaki presented a word cloud from his email exchanges with Mullett, and Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova read remarks by Byzantine Studies Librarian Deb Brown on her role in the Byzantine Studies community. Director of Dumbarton Oaks Jan Ziolkowski and Director of Garden and Landscape Studies John Beardsley raised a toast to honor Mullett’s contributions to Dumbarton Oaks.

Below is a selection of Ziolkowski’s remarks:

The success of a directorship within our institution can be gauged by many very different standards. One litmus is the effects that the Director exercises on people who are in the community. That populace includes both staff here on an ongoing basis, and Fellows and others who are here on shorter terms. In this regard Margaret has made an amazing mark (among many other things) through her indefatigable hospitality. She has thrown open her hearth and her heart with a breathtaking generosity—and let us not forget that she selected her residence on R Street so as to be situated directly between La Quercia and Dumbarton Oaks proper. Her weekly dinners at home, more potlatch than potluck, have been only the most obvious manifestation of stunningly irrepressible givingness and sociability. She has hosted and mentored hundreds of Byzantinists, from the most wizened to the most junior.

Another measure of a director’s achievements is the positive outcome of symposia, and the improvement of those events so that they may come into print. In this connection Margaret has brought the world many publications. In her final report to me I could not keep straight everything in the current batch, once she passed the half-dozen count.

Through her social and cerebral energies Margaret has been a force of nature, giving meals to Fellows and books to Byzantinists worldwide. I have focused on these two achievements out of many, because I see Margaret as having endowed the expression “food for thought” with unique depth of meaning. She has given us intellectual and social substance in equal measures, for which I would like us now to toast her.