Remembering Three Alums and a Pardee Professor Emeritus
Noah Gordon (COM’50, GRS’51), Bettina Plevan (LAW’70), Dan Petrescu (CAS’13, GRS’15), and Angelo Codevilla
Angelo CodevillaPardee School Professor Emeritus of International Relations
Angelo Codevilla, a Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies professor emeritus of international relations who taught at Boston University from 1995 until his retirement in 2008, died September 21, 2021. He was 78.
Before joining the BU faculty, Codevilla was a US Naval officer, an assistant professor at Grove City College and North Dakota State College, and a US Foreign Service officer. He was a member of President-elect Ronald Reagan’s transition teams within the US Department of State, where he dealt with Western Europe and with matters affecting the US intelligence community. He also served as a US Senate staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services.
“My office was down the hall from Angelo for my first few years at BU,” says William Grimes, Pardee associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of international relations and political science. “Since both he and I tended to leave our doors open, I learned a lot about him by the way that he would engage his students during office hours. Angelo had a dedicated group of students who would take all his classes and visit him often. He had an easy rapport with them, alternating between scholarly mentorship, parental concern for their careers and well-being, and friendly banter. Fully trilingual in Italian, English, and French, he enjoyed talking about languages, history, and politics. While I often found myself disagreeing with him on his interpretations of world events over the decade and a half in which we overlapped, I was grateful for his friendly interest in me, his booming laugh, and his willingness to talk about any subject of interest.”
According to an obituary in the New York Times, Codevilla had written or cowritten 17 books, including The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It (BeaufortBooks, 2010).
“Angelo was a committed teacher who never left any doubt as to where he stood on issues,” says Erik Goldstein, a Pardee professor of international relations and history. “He had a wide academic universe, writing well-received books on topics ranging from Machiavelli to Swiss politics. Angelo was very much a proponent of being well-read in the classics of international relations and ran a lively early morning seminar on the subject. On a personal level, he was always a caring and concerned colleague.”
Noah Gordon (COM’50, GRS’51)
Internationally Known Author
Noah Gordon, (COM’50, GRS’51), a novelist whose books achieved international success, died November 22, 2021. He was 95.
Gordon, who grew up in Worcester, Mass., earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism and a Master of Arts in English and creative writing, both at Boston University. “Ever since childhood I had nursed two ambitions of my own,” he wrote on his website. “I wanted to be a newspaperman, and I yearned to write the kind of novels that made me love books.”
Gordon worked at Avon Publishing Company in New York for two years, but later moved back to Massachusetts with his family, fulfilling part of his ambition: he became a reporter for the Worcester Telegram. In 1959, he was hired by the Boston Herald and went on to become the paper’s science editor. He also published two paperback novels about nursing, and began to write freelance scientific and medical articles.
But, he wrote on his website, he still dreamed of becoming “a more serious novelist.” He set to work on an outline, which was accepted by a publisher. His first novel, The Rabbi (McGraw-Hill, 1965), about a young rabbi who falls in love with the daughter of a Protestant minister, was on the New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks.
Two more novels followed. Gordon noted that he “came of age as a story-teller” with his fourth book, The Physician (Simon & Schuster, 1986), the first in a trilogy that follows generations of the Cole family. He wrote that he was heartbroken, however, when the book sold only 10,000 hardcover copies in America (his editor had taken a job at a different publishing house).
But about a year later, a publisher from Germany purchased The Physician, which became “a phenomenon in that country and in Spain,” Gordon wrote, “and as news from both these countries reached publishers all over Europe, they flocked to buy the book.” (The Physician was adapted into a movie in 2015 and a prize-winning musical, in Spain, in 2018.) His fifth book, Shaman (Dutton, 1992), the second in the Cole trilogy, was a New York Times Notable Book and declared Best Historical Novel of 1991/1992 by the Society of American Historians, which in 1993 awarded Gordon the first James Fenimore Cooper Prize.
Gordon wrote on his website, “I am fortunate to have found my greatest acceptance as a writer late in my life, when I can appreciate it fully…. My youthful wishing was for a life of newspapering and book writing, and that is exactly what it has been.”
Bettina Plevan (LAW’70)
Top Employment Lawyer
Bettina “Betsy” Plevan (LAW’70), one of the country’s top employment lawyers and a trailblazer, died on October 29, 2021. She was 75.
After graduating from Wellesley College in 1967 and BU School of Law in 1970, Plevan began practicing law at Bogle & Gates in Seattle. She moved to New York in 1974 and joined the law firm Proskauer Rose as an associate, becoming a partner in 1980. According to the law firm, she was the first female partner in her department and the first woman on the Proskauer executive committee.
Plevan, a mentor to young lawyers, was responsible for many noteworthy cases, according to the firm, “creating precedent and setting legal standards nationwide.”
As head of the New York City Bar Association’s committee on women in the legal profession, she commissioned an “examination of issues affecting the advancement of women in the city’s largest firms,” according to an obituary in the New York Times. “The resulting landmark study, ‘Glass Ceilings and Open Doors: Women’s Advancement in the Legal Profession’ (1995), found that while women had achieved parity with men in their numbers in law schools and in entry-level positions, they still faced obstacles in becoming leaders at their firms and in establishing themselves as potential rainmakers. Ms. Plevan worked as a catalyst to change that.”
In 2004, she became the second female president of the New York City Bar Association, and she was the first female president of the Federal Bar Council.
Plevan received many honors, including the third annual James Duane Award from the Bench and Bar of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was recognized for “her leadership in the profession, civil rights activism, and trailblazing efforts on behalf of women,” according to Proskauer. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer.
Dan Petrescu (CAS’13, GRS’15)
Generous, Present Friend
Dan Petrescu (CAS’13, GRS’15) died in an airplane accident on October 3, 2021. The accident also claimed the lives of his parents, partner, and four family friends. Riccardo Cestarelli (Questrom’13), Adolfo Gatti (CAS’13, Pardee’13), and Stephanie Nahous (COM’14) paid tribute to their friend:
As we remember our time together at BU, it is apparent how Dan touched the lives of many—on and off Comm Ave.
Above all, Dan was humbly talented. He would not mention he could masterfully play the piano—he’d just surprise you with a piece from Chopin or with the theme from La La Land. He could argue the merits of travel in French, tell you about his day at the lab in German, and reminisce about his childhood in Romanian. And few of us could ever keep secrets from him because he also understood Italian and Spanish.
Things just seemed to come easy to Dan—even hard sciences. Seeking truth within the beauty of the natural world, he devoted himself to biophysical chemistry. Upon completing his BA and MS at BU, Dan moved to Montreal to pursue his PhD, which McGill University will award posthumously.
But his desire for knowledge and deeper meaning extended beyond the chemistry lab. Dan was thoughtful and genuinely curious. He was unassuming and kind, yet challenging and straightforward, in eliciting opinions and encouraging debate. Many nights were spent discussing anything from the challenges of long-distance relationships to whether Whole Foods apples could ever truly be “organic.” No topic was beyond him.
Dan was a great friend, always present and generous—with his time, opinions, and emotional support. We miss him every day.