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A Model Scholar and Human Being

Remembering Christine Cano, a beloved faculty member

Photo of Christine Cano outdoors and smiling at the camera.

Christine Cano

Last fall, Jumoke Adebulu faced a quandary. 

The Case Western Reserve senior needed to fulfill academic requirements for her French major and sports medicine minor before graduating— but the timing of twice-weekly courses from the two disciplines conflicted. 

Christine Cano, PhD, who taught the French course, devised a way for Adebulu to complete both classes. The extra effort exemplified the associate professor’s commitment to students and her knack for making good things happen. 

Cano changed one weekly session to another time that worked for all the students, and once a week—for the entire semester—Cano met with Adebulu in her office for an hour or more of individual class time.

“It was very generous of her; I couldn’t believe it,” said Adebulu (CWR ’23). “I feel like it was definitely a highlight of my college years … It’s something I will never forget.” 

Last December, Cano died after a tragic fall at age 60. The university community continues to mourn the loss of the beloved colleague, friend and mentor. 

She was “a model scholar, author, teacher and university citizen,” said Alan Rocke, PhD, a historian and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus who was Cano’s friend for more than two decades. “I will always remember Christine’s intellectual honesty, quiet dignity and graceful presence.” 

Cano was the kind of educator who could “awaken a love of French culture and language in generations of students that inspired them far beyond graduation,” said Susanne Vees-Gulani, PhD, an associate professor of German and comparative literature and a longtime friend. 

Cano was a highly regarded scholar of French literature and culture. Her first book, Proust’s Deadline (2006), won widespread praise and continues to be cited today. 

Cano also served at all levels of the university. “She probably knew more about the by-laws and all the university policies than anyone else and was always willing to share her knowledge and advice,” said Damaris Puñales- Alpízar, PhD, an associate professor of Hispanic studies and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. “We have lost not only a great colleague, professor and scholar but also an extraordinary human being.” 

Cano earned an undergraduate degree at Smith College and doctorate at Yale University, then taught at Bates College and Virginia Tech. She joined Case Western Reserve in 1999. 

She was a kind soul, loyal friend and generous colleague who listened deeply; an academic who displayed curiosity, humor and intellectual courage; a teacher who always saw the full person before her. 

Cano’s offer last fall to hold individual sessions initially left Adebulu feeling nervous. 

“I didn’t think my French was good enough to converse with her alone,” Adebulu recalled. 

But Cano was patient and, gradually, Adebulu could hold her own on topics ranging from recent weekend activities to literary works by French and Francophone women writers.

“I think one of the things this really taught me was to be selfless,” Adebulu said. “Regardless of your position or ranking, to just go out of your way to do something beneficial for others. She really showed that.”

“I will always remember Christine’s intellectual honesty, quiet dignity and graceful presence.” —Alan Rocke Distinguished University Professor Emeritus

Page last modified: January 16, 2024