In Memoriam: Faculty and Staff

The University mourns the passing of three members of the University community:

Edward M. Burns, professor emeritus of English, died on November 3, 2023. He was 79. A graduate of Brooklyn College, he began his career as an English teacher in New York City before earning his doctorate in English from City University of New York. Professor Burns joined the William Paterson faculty in 1989. Considered one of the leading experts on American author Gertrude Stein and her entourage, he was the editor of Staying on Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas, The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder, A Tour of the Darkling Plain: The Finnegans Wake Letters of Thornton Wilder and Adaline Glasheen, and A Passion for Joyce: The Letters of Hugh Kenner and Adaline Glasheen. He served as an editor of Text and its successor journal Textual Cultures. Professor Burns was an advisor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the 2012 exhibition “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” featuring paintings from the collection of Gertrude Stein and her family. He wrote an essay about Gertrude Stein that was included in the exhibition’s catalog and donated more than 200 archival photos of the paintings in Gertrude Stein’s apartment, some of which were printed in the catalog. His work on the Steins was also featured in a three-part article in the New Yorker.

Lauren Fowler-Calisto, professor of music and director of choral activities, died on December 12, 2023. She joined the music faculty in 2016, teaching courses in conducting and music education, and conducted the University’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. Professor Fowler-Calisto also served as director of the University Honors College Music Track, expanding the program and creating many innovative opportunities for students. Beyond the campus, she served as artistic director and conductor of the New Jersey Choral Society, a professional and community-based group that is regarded as one of the premier ensembles in the Northeast. Professor Fowler-Calisto took numerous student choir groups on international tours and collaborated on many student musical productions. Prior to joining the University, she served as associate director of choral activities at the University of Southern Mississippi, director of choral studies at Christopher Newport University, and in positions at Iowa State University, the University of South Dakota, and St. Norbert College. A graduate of Concordia College with a bachelor’s degree in music education, she earned a master of music degree in performance from the University of Arizona and a doctor of arts degree in choral conducting with a cognate in vocal performance and pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado. A lifelong learner with a passion for the arts, she was also a William Paterson student, pursuing a master of fine arts degree. In her honor, the Lauren Fowler-Calisto Memorial Fund has been established to support tuition and travel for students to attend summer programs in vocal and choral music. To make a donation online, please click here, and select “Lauren Fowler-Calisto Memorial Fund” or contact Andres Cladera, director of development for William Paterson University, at or 973.720.3990.

David Shapiro, poet, art historian, and professor emeritus of art, died on May 4, 2024. He was 77. Considered a musical prodigy, Professor Shapiro trained as a classical violinist, performing with several chamber groups and giving solo performances while still a teenager. He published his first poem at age 16 and his first book of poems, January (1965), at age 18. He enrolled at Columbia University, where in 1968 he was among a group of students protesting the Vietnam War who occupied the president’s office; a now-famous photo of him seated at then-President Grayson Kirk’s desk, smoking a cigar, was published in Life and Time magazines. After receiving his bachelor of arts degree in English, Professor Shapiro attended Cambridge University and returned to Columbia, where he earned his doctorate in English and comparative literature in 1973. After teaching English and comparative literature at Columbia, he joined the William Paterson art department in 1984, where he taught art history. Known for his innovative, interdisciplinary work, he created Art in New York, a course which took students to museums and artists’ studios in New York City. “When I teach, it all gets put together—like an opera with so many different parts,” he said. “To me, poetry and painting and architecture are one, and I try to demonstrate how they all come together.” Professor Shapiro authored more than 40 books, including 10 volumes of poetry, numerous works of literary criticism, monographs on the artists Piet Mondrian, Jasper Johns, and Jim Dine, and a study of John Ashbery’s poems, John Ashbery: An Introduction to the Poetry (1979). His volume of poetry, A Man Holding an Acoustic Panel (1971), was nominated for a National Book Award. His numerous awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Graham Foundation. At the time of his retirement from William Paterson in 2014, the University honored him with the exhibition, David Shapiro: Cardboard and Gold, which featured his paintings and collages as well as his numerous publications. His final book, You Are the You: Writings and Interviews on Poetry, Art, and the New York School, is slated for publication in fall 2024.