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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

English Professor Charles Noyes remembered for dedication to students and university


Charles E. Noyes, late professor emeritus of English, provided invaluable assistance during and after UM’s tumultuous integration in 1962, including speechwriting for Chancellor J.D. Williams and within the administration.

UM Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat’s description of Noyes as “among the most loved people at Ole Miss” explains how he survived and thrived during those difficult years.

“Chuck Noyes established extraordinary relationships with students, staff, faculty and alumni for more than 50 years,” Khayat said. “Blessed with a keen mind and a clever wit, he was known among his students for his life-enriching teaching style and within the community for his remarkable personal relationships. He devoted most of his retirement years to attracting financial support for the library. He was a bright, funny man who quietly gave most of his personal resources to the university. He will be missed and fondly remembered as a loyal son of the university.”

Noyes came to UM in 1953 as a member of the English faculty, specializing in Restoration and 18th-century English literature. Until his retirement in 1982, he taught at least two courses per semester, except when he served as provost in 1963-64. He also held the UM posts of acting vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor and director of the summer session.

“Chuck Noyes was an excellent administrator — efficient, hardworking, understanding, dedicated, loyal,” said Gerald Walton, UM provost emeritus and Noyes’ student. “He had a remarkable understanding of all of the university; he could make tough decisions, and he provided invaluable assistance to the chancellor. He was, in my opinion, the best prose stylist ever to work at Ole Miss.”

Noyes, a Natchez native, completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Missouri and his doctorate at the University of Texas. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946, attaining the rank of major. His service included the post of assistant chief of staff of the Third Army Airways Communications Wing in Alaska.

Coauthor of a critical biography of 18th-century poet Christopher Smart and articles on Samuel Johnson, James Boswell and David Hume, Noyes was a noted benefactor of the J.D. Williams Library and membership chair of Friends of the Library, serving alongside his longtime colleague and friend John Pilkington, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English.

“I’ve known Chuck Noyes since he came here in 1953,” Pilkington said in a 2008 interview. “He’s been a splendid administrator, a fine teacher and a loyal friend. He leaves his mark upon the university.”

His former student David Arnold of Yazoo City honored him by establishing the Noyes Library Endowment. Noyes died in 2008.