Revered Professor Emeritus Jack Street dies

The professor emeritus of Modern Languages and Literatures taught French and Italian at Beloit for 54 years and developed an extensive following of alumni admirers.

When Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages and Literatures Jack Street retired in 2015, one of his former students said, “He will always serve as my ideal when I think of what a teacher should be.”

The beloved professor died Sept. 12 after a brief illness.

Professor Street was a Beloit treasure — a teacher and scholar known for his kindness, high standards, and dedication to his students’ success.

Over a 54-year teaching career, from 1961 to 2015, he shared his knowledge and love of everything French and Italian with more than 2,000 Beloit students, profoundly impacting them and often earning a top spot on their lists of favorite professors.

At his retirement, he held the Harry C. Moore Chair in Modern Languages. His scholarship was vast and included French literature, theatre, and cinema, and the use of French in the Valle d’Aosta French enclave in Italy.

He believed that learning a language was central to a liberal arts education, and he lived that ideal by speaking four languages fluently. He was also a citizen of the world, having lived, researched, and taught abroad, with long-term residencies in France, Italy, and Mexico.

The college is fortunate that his irreplaceable generosity was focused on Beloit and its people. A remarkable individual who rode his bike to his campus office into his late 80s, Professor Street mentored and checked in with colleagues and students long after his retirement.

He gave back in countless ways: through his service, which included chairing the Modern Languages and Literatures department from 1975 to 1997, founding the college’s first study-abroad seminar in Rennes, France, and directing it more than a dozen times, and establishing three of the Modern Languages and Literatures department’s language prizes and a scholarship for students studying foreign languages.

Among the notable honors he received was his 2016 induction into the French Republic’s prestigious Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of the French Academic Palms), the oldest non-military French decoration. He was also elected to serve as national vice president of Phi Sigma Iota, the international foreign languages honor society. In 1997, the Beloit College Alumni Association named him an honorary alumnus.

Those wishing to show appreciation for Professor Street are invited to donate to the Professor Jack Street Endowed Scholarship Fund. Visit Beloit’s main giving page and note that the gift is in his memory.  

September 14, 2021

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