Professor Emeritus, Historian, and Pride of the Bluff, Dr. James T. Covert, passed away October 13, 2016 following complications from a stroke suffered earlier in the summer. Aged 84, Dr. Covert was a UP alumnus as well as a professional and institutional pillar of the modern University of Portland.
Infused with Pilot Purple since his arrival on campus in 1955, but living off-campus as a married freshman and graduating on-schedule B.A. ’59, the young history major was a man in a hurry, soon returning to the Bluff in 1961 as a member of the history faculty while pursuing a doctorate at the University of Oregon. A popular teacher of European history, Dr. Covert’s former students credit him as an inspiring teacher who fueled their love of history. Dr. Covert spent his entire academic career at UP, retiring with emeriti rank in 1997. His service to UP includes time as department chair and on numerous faculty committees. His service to students extended from the classroom to acting as Faculty Representative for Athletics for twenty-three years (nineteen years as member of the executive committee of the West Coast Athletic Conference). He received the Culligan Award in 1967, Alumnus of the Year Award in 1976, and the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1986. Together with his wife, Sally, the family created the James T. Covert Family Endowed Scholarship, providing direct support to UP student life. Eighteen students have received the scholarship since 1996.
Dr. Covert also founded “The Order of the Blue Carbuncle” (Sherlock Holmes Society) in 1971, mentioned because, naturally, his Holmes pipe and deerstalker cap are on display in the University of Portland Museum.
Commissioned to write the University of Portland history for the University’s Seventy-Fifth Anniversary in 1976, Dr. Covert brought his experience as a UP student and as a faculty member to his task. The finished product “A Point of Pride: The University of Portland Story” has graced the bookshelves of many UP alumni and friends since. After writing of “A Point of Pride“, Covert began saving pieces and treasures of University history from alumni and friends and he became – by default? – the founder and first director of the University of Portland Museum (October 15, 1992). Still carrying on Dr. Covert’s vision to preserve UP’s past for future generations to come, the Heritage Room in 14 Shipstad Hall is open (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:30 a.m. to noon; 1:00-2:30 p.m.; Wednesday 8:00 a.m. to noon; 1:00-2:00 p.m.; or by appointment) to students, alumni, staff, and friends of the University.
As a side note, Dr. Covert designed the University Maces used in academic processions.
Covert photo gallery (from the University Archives and Log Yearbooks)
(Click on images to enlarge)