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Remembering Professor Rosanna Cappellato

Publication Date: 11/26/2012

It is with great sadness that the college announces the passing of Professor Rosanna Cappellato. Dr. Cappellato died peacefully Thursday morning at 9:00 AM with her mother and a close friend and colleague present after a brief yet rapidly progressive illness. Dr. Cappellato was interred at 1:00 PM Central Time on Monday, November 26, in a private conservation burial at Honey Creek Woodlands, a forested area on the grounds of the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. In accordance with her request, there will be no memorial service in association with the burial. Members of the Rhodes community gathered at the Rose Garden in Frazier-Jelke in tribute to Dr. Cappellato. Those wishing to honor her life may choose, in her own words, to contribute to “causes that further the preservation of wildlife and the natural world.”

Dr. Cappellato earned her Bachelor of Science degree in her native Italy in 1977, a Doctorandus degree in Biology from the University of Amsterdam in 1981, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Emory University in 1991. She taught at Emory, Alfred University, and Allegheny College before joining the Rhodes faculty in 2004.

At Rhodes, Dr. Cappellato established courses in Environmental Science and Conservation Biology. Each year she led students on a Maymester program in Namibia to study Environmental Issues in Southern Africa. Dr. Cappellato’s passion for the environment and environmentalism was reflected in a number of ways on campus and beyond. She provided guidance throughout the development of the Environmental Studies and Sciences Program and was instrumental in the recent re-certification of the Rhodes campus as a Level IV Arboretum. She also served on Rhodes’ Environmental Planning Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Memphis Zoo. She was involved in a number of environmental issues in the community, including the Shelby County Brownfield Council and conservation efforts in the old growth forest of Overton Park.

Dr. Cappellato was a passionate and compassionate scientist, teacher, colleague, and friend. In many ways a true “citizen of the world,” she was fluent in several languages and worked in many parts of the world on environmental issues. We will all miss her and her exuberant commitment to Rhodes and to the natural environment.

Tags: Faculty


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University of Tennessee Landscape Architecture Program December 30, 2012

It is clear that Dr. Cappellato was an exceptional educator and an inspirational spirit. Her message of conservation and environmental stewardship survives through her legacy of countless students fortunate to learn with her. Our condolences to the Rhodes family.

Louise Weber December 30, 2012

Riposare in pace, Rosanna. I am thankful for what she taught me about teaching when we were colleagues at Emory, and can still see her narrow frame pacing the aisles of the Emory lecture hall, passion flowing from every pore. There are times I ask myself, what would Rosanna do or say in this situation. It helps me realize there is nothing too radical to utter, especially in regards to the environment. I wish we could all get together and wish her arrivederci, and she would be able to see the wide circle of influence she has had. Instead, I plan to honor Rosanna in my own way this weekend, and that′s probably how she would want it.

David Siu November 28, 2012

For those wishing to honor and continue Dr. Cappellato′s legacy,please consider making a donation to the nonprofit Cheetah Conservation Fund of Namibia in her memory. All donations will help conserve one of Dr. Cappellato′s favorite felines.

Making a donation is simple, fast and secure.


Stephanie Spainhour November 26, 2012

We know that Rhodes will miss Dr. Cappellato! Our son learned so much from her and is so much more environmentally conscious due to Dr. Cappellato and her efforts!

Max Hardy November 26, 2012

How beautiful it is that she left such a strong program behind her: the Environmental Studies and Sciences major and minor. There is no doubt she was instrumental to its success, and truly embodied the college′s commitment to making its students better global citizens. Professor Cappellato was also funny! She was known for her exuberance and wit--she will surely be missed.