In 1962 Alice Colby-Hall (B.A., Colby College, M.A., Middlebury College [Paris program], Ph.D., Columbia University) became the first female professor of medieval studies at Cornell and the first person to teach medieval French literature at the university. She rose quickly through the academic ranks: Instructor (1962), Assistant Professor (1963), Associate Professor (1966), full Professor (1975). An expert on medieval French literature, Colby-Hall taught courses on phonology, courtly romance and lyric, epic, drama, and troubadour poetry. She is the author of The Portrait in Twelfth-Century French Literature: An Example of the Stylistic Originality of Chrétien de Troyes (1965) and of numerous studies on the Guillaume d’Orange tradition, including, “Vita sancti Willelmi,” fondateur de l’abbaye de Gellone, édition et traduction du texte médiéval d’après le manuscrit de l’abbaye de Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (Montpellier: Arts et Traditions Rurales, 2014).
In 1984 Colby-Hall was elected to the Académie de Vaucluse in Avignon and in 1985 she was awarded the Médaille des Amis d’Orange. In 1997 she received one of France’s highest honors: She was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for her contribution to the spread of French culture and to the preservation of the country’s historical and literary heritage.