The queen of her students’ hearts

“They make me so proud,” says UNL professor who gives back to UNL.

This queen has devoted her life to her loyal subjects — her students.

“I want to do everything to help them,” says Burnett Society member Carole Levin, who is the Willa Cather Professor of History at UNL and a woman who may go down in history as one of its most loving professors ever.

“I do think about legacies very much. And one of the things that I did a number of years ago was to set up a scholarship fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation as a legacy. So I do give money every year to it, and I believe in it very strongly. And when I die, a percentage of my estate will go to scholarships for both undergraduates and graduate students.

“That makes me so proud.”

Levin, who is the head of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program at UNL, surrounds herself with students as well as with the trappings of 16th Century life. Her condo in the University Towers, just two blocks south City Campus, has Tudor beams on the ceiling, and almost every inch of it is devoted to art and items that depict the era – especially to her favorite queen, Elizabeth I.

This past Christmas season, at a friend’s condo in the same building, Carol reigned as queen at the head of a long table during a medieval-themed banquet. She wore a long, green velvet Elizabethan dress that she had made by a seamstress England last year when she was on a Fulbright Fellowship at a university in York, England.

On the menu were delicious medieval dishes she made herself from authentic recipes: artichoke pie, the Queen’s Chicken Salad, Elizabethan Gilded Chicken garnished with apricots, medieval apple sauce, Elizabethan salad. She made sure there was plenty of wine and mead from the James Arthur Vineyards to wash it all down (She chose those wines, she says, because they are excellent and because the Vineyards support her students financially as “James Arthur Vineyards Fellows.”)

Her friends and former students toasted to her.

Their queen.

Carole is considered one of the world’s leading experts in Queen Elizabeth I. She has written and edited 16 books, many of them about the virgin queen. Her latest book, “Scholars and Poets Talk About Queens,” came out in paperback this spring. She’s especially proud of it because it highlights the work of her students and former students. The book’s concept was to mix scholarly essays with poems and other creative works.

This past April, Carole reigned at a signing event for that book. She laughed and chatted with students, friends and fans who drank more James Arthur wine. She and others read excerpts from the book.

And she asked people to buy many books because she would donate $10 for every book sold and that a friend, Pamela Nickless, would donate another $10 for each book to the fund she created at the foundation: The Medieval and Renaissance Studies Excellent Fund. (Carole also has plans in place in her estate to further support the fund and to establish the Carole Levin History Scholarship and Fellowship Fund.)

By the end of the night, about $1,000 was raised. Carole threw in another $1,000 of her own money.

And to her delight, at one point during the night’s event, a former student surprised her with by reciting an original poem in her honor – “Queen Carole.”

… We — your readers, students, and colleagues —

are saints and sinners, witches and professors,

madwomen and sane, and everything in between.

We are brought to court in Queen Carole’s reign.

When you shine, you illuminate us.

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