JANICE KOZMA passed away peacefully at her home on November 9, 2018.
Jan was born on December 20, 1945 in Wyandotte, Michigan to parents William and Mary Pedica Kozma. She grew up in Trenton, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan where she obtained her B.A., M.A. and in 1973 her Ph.D. in Italian. During this period of study, she spent one year in Rome where she taught English as a foreign language.
Jan accepted the first job of her professional career in 1973, teaching Italian at the University of Kentucky. She next taught at Florida International University before accepting an assistant professorship at the University of Kansas in 1977.
For thirty-seven years Jan devoted herself to teaching at all levels of Italian language and literature in the Department of French and Italian at KU. Early in her career, she published two textbooks on Italian language. In 1978, she instituted the KU Study Abroad Program in Florence and Rome and directed it herself many times. For her excellence in teaching, she received a Kemper Award and a Mortar Board Award, and she was a five-time winner of the Cramer Award. From 1987-1992, she served as Department Chairperson. She attained the rank of full professor in 1992. Throughout the years, she served on and at times chaired numerous committees for the University and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Aside from teaching and service, Jan’s interests at KU were the novel and poetry of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italy, in particular the work of Alberto Moravia, Vasco Pratolini, Francesca Duranti, and Nobel Laureate Grazia Deledda. She was the author of two books of literary criticism, The Architecture of Imagery in Alberto Moravia’s Fiction and Grazia Deledda’s Eternal-Adolescents: The Pathology of Arrested Maturation. She also translated three novels by Deledda and wrote numerous articles and book reviews. For her academic contributions to the field of Italian language and literature, Italy honored Jan by naming her Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Retirement in 2014 marked a new phase in Jan’s teaching life as she shared her expertise in Italian culture and cuisine in classes she taught to senior adults at the KU Osher Institute and in a lecture at the Lawrence Public Library.
In 1981 Jan married Tom Southall, Historian of Photography and Curator of the Photography Collection at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art. They divorced in 1989. She is survived by her brother, Norman, of Trenton, Michigan, and by numerous cousins in the U.S. and in Rome. She will be missed by her many friends from KU, the Lawrence community and beyond.
A memorial service will be held at the St. Lawrence Catholic Center this week; the date and time will be announced as soon as possible. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Jan may be made to Just Food.