The Biggs Family Residency in Classics

About the Residency

Each spring, a prominent scholar in the field of Classics visits the campus for a week as the Biggs Family Resident. The Resident offers lectures and less formal presentations, and interacts with students and faculty members in a variety of events and settings. This personal contact has proven to be a valuable resource for students of Classics, both graduate and undergraduate, and presents a unique opportunity to learn more about the visiting scholar’s research and area of specialization. The Biggs Residency in Classics is the gift of John and Penelope Biggs, alumni of Washington University. John and Penelope discuss their love of Classics and vision for the Residency in this 2018 interview.


Biggs Residents Through the Years

Emily Greenwood, Harvard University, 2025

Francesco de Angelis, Columbia University, 2024

Victor Caston, University of Michigan, 2023

Roger Bagnall, New York University/Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2022

Rafaella Cribiore, New York University, 2021

Julia Annas, University of Arizona, 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19)

Susan Rotroff, Washington University in St. Louis, 2019 (see photos)

Biggs Residency Reunion, 2018 (click link to see abstracts, photos, and videos)

Robert Wallace, Northwestern University, 2017 

Daniel Mendelsohn, Bard College, 2016

David Sedley, University of Cambridge, 2015

John Camp, Randolph-Macon College, 2014

Kathleen Coleman, Harvard University, 2013

Mary T. Boatwright, Duke University, 2012

Andrew Stewart, University of California at Berkeley,  2011

James G. Lennox, University of Pittsburgh, 2010

Richard Martin, Stanford University, 2009

Glen Bowersock, Institute for Advanced Study, 2008

Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge, 2007

William Gass, Washington University in St. Louis, 2006

Malcolm Schofield, University of Cambridge, 2005

W. Ralph Johnson, University of Chicago, 2004

Josiah Ober, Stanford University, 2003

George Bass, Texas A&M University, 2002

Elizabeth Asmis, University of Chicago, 2001

Eleanor Leach, Indiana University at Bloomington, 2000

David Konstan, New York University, 1999

Erich Gruen, University of California at Berkeley, 1998

R. Ross Holloway, Brown University, 1997

Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago, 1996

Peter Riesenberg, Washington University in St. Louis, 1995

Gregory Nagy, Harvard University, 1994

Philip Levine, University of California at Los Angeles, 1993

James Redfield, University of Chicago,1992

William Arrowsmith, Boston University, 1991

Emily Vermeule, Harvard University, 1990

The Biggs Family

John and Penelope Biggs

Native St. Louisan John Biggs is an eminent economist with a lifelong interest in advancing education. During his tenure at Washington University, he earned a doctorate in economics and taught classes in that department. He earned a doctorate in economics in 1982, after fulfilling his language requirement by translating passages from the Iliad with Professor Sale of the Classics Department. He later served as chief executive officer of investment company TIAA-CREF and led the company until retiring in 2002. Since his retirement, Biggs has remained active in corporate, community and professional associations.

Penelope Biggs graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in classics from Radcliffe College, where she first met John while he was a student at Harvard. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in comparative literature from Washington University in 1968 and 1974, respectively, taking many courses in classics. She joined the faculty of Lindenwood College (now University) as an assistant professor of literature. Later, she taught Latin at the high school now known as Mary Institute Country Day School. Her writings on classical and post-classical literature have been published in scholarly journals. Penelope passed away on November 3, 2022; our story about her is posted here.

John and Penelope Biggs received the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2009. They were also made members of Washington University’s Danforth Circle Chancellor’s Level and life members of the Danforth Circle Dean’s Level.



Henry and Theresa Biggs

Born in St. Louis, Henry Biggs studied Classics at Harvard University and earned a doctorate in Romance Linguistics at UCLA. At Washington University, he served in various administrative capacities for many years, including as Associate Dean in Arts & Sciences, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, advisor of Thurtene Carnival, and Associate Director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. Currently he teaches International Property Law at the Washington University School of Law and Computational Linguistics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. He is CEO and General Counsel at OfCourse Scheduling

After growing up in San Diego, Theresa Biggs earned a BA in French literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She met Henry at UCLA, where she completed an MA in Romance Linguistics, with a focus on French and Italian. She has been Adjunct Professor of Italian at St. Louis University for ten years.



Andrea Biggs

Andrea Biggs (1960-1981), daughter of John and Penelope Biggs and sister of Henry Biggs, was an independent spirit who advocated tirelessly for women’s rights, creating the first anti-prom at her high school and enthusiastically fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment. The Andrea Biggs Undergraduate Award in Gender Studies, named in her honor, was established over a decade “for the promotion of undergraduate research that focuses on issues relating to gender, dedicated in loving memory to Andrea’s spirit, in the hopes of further nurturing that same spirit in others.”

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