If Bucknell hadn't prepared me so widely and so well, I never would have gotten my [Marshall] scholarship to Oxford ...
The way Michael Suarez '82 sees it, his life as a teacher, scholar and Jesuit priest has allowed him to pay forward what he learned at Bucknell. “If Bucknell hadn't prepared me so widely and so well, I never would have gotten my [Marshall] scholarship to Oxford, and my academic career and career as a Jesuit priest would have been entirely different,” he says.
Suarez, a book historian, bibliographer and editor, is a professor of English at the University of Virginia (UVA) and one of just 16 University Professors charged with building bridges across disciplines. It's a comfortable role for a Bucknell graduate who gained, he says, “a sort of extreme liberal arts education” by triple majoring in English, biology and sociology.
Since 2009, Suarez has directed the Rare Book School at UVA, which involves frequent travel — lecturing, fundraising for the school and “advocating for the study of humanities, the importance of libraries and the primacy of the text in its original form,” he says. This spring, he gave the prestigious Lyell Lectures in Bibliography (which Suarez describes as “not lists, but the archaeology of printed books”) at Oxford University's Bodleian Library.
In July, President Obama nominated Suarez to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In September, he was named a Distinguished Presidential Fellow of the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Suarez is editor-in-chief of the Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO), a 14-year, multimillion-dollar project to digitize all of the works published over hundreds of years by Oxford University Press. Making these works, which include literature, history and philosophy in English, Greek and Latin available digitally at a sliding cost will make them accessible to students globally and will “enable scholarship in ways that we never anticipated before,” he says.
His fervent hope is that the OSEO project will allow scholars of the future “to ask new questions … and create new knowledge” for generations to come.