This past February, the Rivendell Institute at Yale University announced plans to dedicate a room in memory of Dr. Brett Foster, former Wheaton College Associate Professor of English who passed away in November 2015 following a battle with cancer. The Rivendell Institute at Yale is dedicated to examine and advance the contribution of a Christian vision of life to human flourishing and the common good within the academy and contemporary culture.
Foster was a Ph.D. student in Renaissance Studies at Yale during the Rivendell’s earlier years and maintained friendships with Rivendell fellows throughout his life.
Following the announcement, Wheaton faculty who knew Foster well shared their thoughts on the dedication, explaining that the Rivendell Institute promotes many of the same values that the beloved professor and poet held dear.
“I think the Rivendell Institute has a lot in common with what Brett appreciated about Wheaton College, and that is the collegiality...bringing together scholars and Christians and artists and writers into a community,” said Dr. Jeffrey Galbraith, Assistant Professor of English and longtime friend of Foster.
According to the statement released by the Rivendell Institute, the room designated as the Foster Room is not a research-specific space but rather the Institute’s front parlor. Mark Lewis, Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton and another friend of Foster, saw this detail as a fitting tribute to Foster’s convivial personality.
“I think of the Rivendell Institute as a place where Brett would love to sit in a corner and drink tea and talk to whoever happened to be around about things that thrilled or intrigued them both,” said Lewis. “It makes sense that [the Foster Room] is a living room...he loved the idea that you could be somewhere that was not a library and do academic work.”
Foster’s friends from the Wheaton community agreed that he would be touched and honored by the Rivendell Institute’s dedication.
“I think he would have really loved it, because he loved Yale,” said Dr. Richard Gibson, Associate Professor of English. “I think that he really would be so touched by the idea that his presence would linger and that he would become part of the architecture at Yale. I really think that would be profoundly meaningful to him.”