Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Romance and Classical Studies
Letter from the Chair
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man in white shirt standing outside with several trees in the background

Dear Alumni and Friends, 

Greetings from the Department of Romance and Classical Studies and Wells Hall. This academic year has been a busy one. In addition to the diverse curriculum we offer in five languages as well as the collaborative research completed by both faculty and students, it has highlighted by other activities that include guest speakers, academic conferences, film festivals, and professional workshops. In 2019, we instituted a year-long Inclusion Initiative that strives to integrate our shared core values into departmental culture in order to ensure the most supportive environment possible.Indeed, there is much to celebrate and many people to acknowledge for contributions to the advancement of our department in the academic, educational, and community spheres that engage local and global issues in an informed, just, and productive manner. Here are a few high points. 

Undergraduate study remains robust. Our graduating seniors enjoy an extremely high placement rate in jobs related to their fields of study and we are proud of their accomplishments both at MSU and beyond. For years, RCS has been a pioneer in the College in fostering the importance of experiential learning, and this year is no exception as interest in this aspect of education continues to grow. Three Spanish majors: Brandon Lawler, Carla Simone, and Iyana Williams exemplify the benefits of integrating experiential learning in the curriculum. Please see their “Student Stories” below to learn more about this benefits their course of study and future professions. Also, RCS students continue to embrace the study abroad experience and more than one hundred of them have ventured to such countries as Spain, Mexico, France, Ecuador, and Argentina, to live and learn.  

Our graduate students have had a banner year. Two of our PhD students, Andrew Bentley and Osvaldo Sandoval, will graduate this May. In addition, MA students Ash Davis (French), Kiana González Cedeño (Hispanic Literatures), Jessica Pembroke (French), and Ryan Stuck (Spanish as a Second or Bilingual Language) will receive degrees. Laura Romero-Quintana passed her PhD comprehensive degree and is now a PhD Candidate in the department. We also congratulate Osvaldo Sandoval, who accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Colgate University. Closer to home, Andrew Bentley was the recipient of the Varg-Sullivan Award for the best published article by a PhD student in the College. GSA/TROPOS hosted a successful conference and organized a number of events, including the second edition of Pitch-a-palooza, one of my favorites.

The academic culture in the department continues to grow each year. The faculty’s prolific research is remarkable and it often gives the opportunity for student collaboration in the investigation of linguistic, literary, cultural, and pedagogical projects. This year, the faculty published books and articles, produced digital media projects, and developed materials for all levels of courses. RCS hosted the Legacies of the Enlightenment Workshop and invited poet José Olivarez for a reading. RCS initiated a Brown Bag Lecture Series to share our ideas and research. The French Section inaugurated the Anna Norris Distinguished Alumni Series by inviting Michael Miller to talk to both current majors and the department about how his degree helped him to reach his professional goals and to discuss his research. There were also two film festivals: the multi-day Italian Film Festival in April and one-night double feature tied to the 2ndLatinx Film Festival to be held in 2020. These are just a few examples of the activities that make the department a vibrant place to learn, work, and teach.

 Finally, I would like to announce four retirements, which is bittersweet to me and the other members of the department because of these professors’ contributions to RCS. Our expert in French Renaissance Literature, professor Ehsan Ahmed, has graced us for decades with his scholarship, ethics, and kindness. Professor Douglas Noverr came to us from the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture, but we consider him one of us as he has served as department chair on numerous occasions. Professor Marshall Olds came to RCS as Chair upon in 2011 and since has shared his erudition in the French classes he teaches. Last but certainly not leas is Professor John Rauk, who helped to revive Classical Studies at MSU. All of you will be missed and we wish you the best in the coming years. 

As you can see, the department is going places. I invite you to take a look at the rest of the newsletter for more information about the department and its members.

 

Tony Grubbs

Interim Chair