Robert Milton Young ’90, a professor of English at the University of Alabama, grew up in Rochester, NY, where he was born on January 22, 1968. A son of Mildred and the Rev. Robert Young, “Bobby” Young entered Hamilton in 1986 from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, where he had captained the basketball team. While on the Hill he played junior varsity and intramural basketball, was active in the Afro-Latin Cultural Center, and became a founder and president of the African American Club. Majoring in English and Africana Studies, he was graduated in 1990.
Robert Young went on to graduate study at Syracuse University, where he earned an M.A. degree in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English literature in 2000. Three years earlier, he had begun his teaching career as an assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Promoted from associate to full professor shortly before his death, he was known as a dedicated scholar as well as a gifted teacher. He specialized in contemporary black literature and literary and cultural theory, and taught both undergraduate classes and graduate seminars. Highly respected by students and colleagues alike, he served as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2004 to 2007 and was also a recipient of the University’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. With his passion for teaching and encouragement of his students to think for themselves, he became a mentor and role model to many.
Diagnosed four years ago with an aggressive type of brain cancer, Robert M. Young was determined, despite several surgeries, to remain in the classroom and continue teaching as long as he could. He did so until a few weeks before his death on January 31, 2010, at a hospital in Tuscaloosa, at the age of 42. He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Nirmala Erevelles, an associate professor in Alabama’s College of Education, and their daughter, Maya, age 5. Also surviving are his father, three brothers, and six sisters. An annual lecture series, “The Robert Milton Young Memorial Lecture in African-American Literary and Cultural Theory,” is being planned by Alabama’s English department in Professor Young’s honor.