News in Brief: St. Mary’s Mourning Professor Joanne Klein

Professor Klein's door in Montgomery Hall. Photo courtesy of the TFMS Facebook page.

On October 31 the St. Mary’s community was notified of the passing of Theater, Film, and Media Studies Professor Joanne Klein. The news had already reached many either by word of mouth or via the notice posted on the TFMS Facebook page by Professor Klein’s partner of more than thirty years, and fellow SMCM faculty member, Professor Mark Rhoda.

After an absence from teaching this semester due to her health, Professor Joanne Klein passed away from metastatic esophageal cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital on October 25, 2016. Professor Rhoda said that she fell ill in June of this year. A notice from the Office of Communications detailed her extensive career at St. Mary’s over the last 27 years, including her venture with Professor Rhoda in 2000 when the pair co-founded the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Colloquium. Last year Professor Klein collaborated with students and members of the SMCM community to produce “Speaking of Race,” where the community was able to express “their understandings of race, ethnicity, and identity through original monologues sharing powerful feelings and experiences,” according to the Office of Communication. She had served as chair for the TFMS Department since 2010. Professor Klein was beloved by students and the St. Mary’s community at large; for many who knew her the week has been spent in mourning.

On Facebook Professor Rhoda shared a photo of Joanne’s office door, taken by TFMS colleague Professor Dave Ellsworth, saying simply, “An office door is an appropriate visual tribute. Joanne loved being a teacher.”

Edit 11/8/2016: There will be a student-led celebration of Joanne Klein’s life on Thursday, Nov. 10th at 8:45pm in Aldom Lounge. From SMCM student CJ Robinson: “This is an invitation to both be heard and to be around people who all share something in common, knowing and remembering Joanne Klein. To attend does not mean you are required to speak up; this is just a safe place to do so if you please. To speak does not mean that you claim to represent anyone but yourself and your connection to Joanne Klein. If you were moved by Joanne Klein and her teachings or want to share some personal stories of what she meant to you, join us in this celebration of life!”

A photo of Joanne and the rest of the TFMS department. (L to R: David Ellsworth; Mark A. Rhoda; Joanne Klein, chair; Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, emeritus; Holly A. Blumner; David V. Groupé). Photo courtesy of
A photo of Joanne and other TFMS professors, including her husband Mark Rhoda. (L to R: David Ellsworth; Mark A. Rhoda; Joanne Klein; Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, emeritus; Holly A. Blumner; David V. Groupé). Photo courtesy of

Note from the News Editor: A more in-depth memorial for Professor Klein is forthcoming. If you are interested in contributing a message to the memorial, please email