Albert C. Labriola
died: March 11, 2009
Oct. 22, 1939 - March 11, 2009
Albert C. Labriola rose up the academic ladder at Duquesne University -- acting dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, a distinguished university professor, a professor of English and an internationally noted Milton scholar.
But he remained more interested in the success of others than himself and was willing to share his love of literature with students of all ages.
"At the end of the day, what was most important was serving others. He did that in both his professional career as well as his personal life," said his son, Michael, of Fox Chapel.
"Every meeting with him was his thanking you for what you had done, congratulating you on some recent accomplishment," said Evan Stoddard, associate dean. "His support of everyone has been so extraordinary."
Dr. Labriola still wore a smile when he carried a pouch and a pump to the office one day every two weeks for months so he could work and undergo chemotherapy for colon cancer at the same time.
His chemo done, Dr. Labriola had gotten a clean report recently. He and his wife of more than 42 years, Regina, traveled last week on spring break to their residence in Cape Canaveral, Fla. He contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized.
He appeared to be recovering, was released and was recuperating. But he died Wednesday at the Cape Canaveral residence, perhaps of a heart attack, his son said. Dr. Labriola, of Pleasant Hills, was 69.
At Duquesne, he earned four Presidential Excellence Awards and a Creative Teaching Award. The student newspaper, The Duquesne Duke, called him "one of the most popular administrators at Duquesne."
Magali Michael, chair of the English Department, said students liked him because he respected them and they respected him and his knowledge. "He always wanted to teach students ... at all levels," she said.
Dr. Labriola was particularly known for his study of the British poet John Milton. He was co-founder and co-director of the First International Milton Symposium in England in 1981..
Sam Hazo, English professor emeritus at Duquesne, said Dr. Labriola believed in literature in education.
"Every time something came up in the department that in any way suggested that the study of literature was not central to a liberal education, Al took the position that it was central and there was no way to shortchange it," Dr. Hazo said.
Dr. Labriola earned a bachelor's degree in English and education from Duquesne in 1961. He also earned a master's in the teaching of English from Columbia University in 1962 and master's and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Virginia in 1963 and 1966, respectively.
Dr. Labriola began teaching at Duquesne in 1970 as an assistant professor. He was named professor of English in 1976 and added the title of distinguished university professor in 1990. He became acting dean in July 2007.
Besides his son and wife, he is survived by his daughter, Jeannie Labriola-Smith. and his mother, Christine M. Labriola, both of Pleasant Hills; and two grandchildren.
as printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette