Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Archives: 2003 Chair's Corner

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Sylvie Debevec Henning



The Chair's Corner
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures



January 25, 2003

In an effort to keep you informed about my efforts to promote the study of foreign languages and literatures in general and our department in particular, I've decided to send you periodic updates through our e-newsletter.

Since fall 2001, I've been a member of the UNC Office of the President's Foreign Language Access Committee. The committee includes representatives of foreign language and literature departments at nine UNC institutions as well as two UNC Associate VP's for Academic Affairs. We met about once a month at the Office of the President in Chapel Hill to discuss strategies for achieving the recommendations made after the 2000 review of UNC foreign language programs. (You may remember that I was the UNC member of the review panel.) Just this month the FL Access Committee completed its final report, which will be forwarded to the Board of Governors this spring. I wrote the section of the report on revising productivity standards. The full report should be available on-line in the near future.

The Russian Studies Program, which I direct, that was funded by the US Department of Education last year, continues to increase its activities. You will recall that funds for our Russian position, currently occupied by Dr. Elena Murenina, have been provided through a cost-sharing arrangement by USDE and the ECU College of Arts and Sciences. Enrollment in our Russian courses is strong. We hope it will increase next year with the addition of four new or revised Russian culture and literature courses. Elena and I worked on the proposals, which were approved by the department in December and will go the CAS and University Curriculum Committees this spring. Interest in this program across the campus is high. I was able to fund eight faculty research/teaching projects in Russian or Eastern Europe for summer 2003. I hope to be able to fund ten for the following summer. Our Russian film series, "Russia Through American Eyes," presents American films focusing on Russia about three times a semester. I also have arranged for a number of speakers to come to campus. Funds have been provided by the School of Art, the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, and the Office of International Affairs.

I presented our proposal for a MAT teaching field in Hispanic Studies to the Graduate Curriculum Committee earlier this month. It was approved enthusiastically. Thanks to Dr. Marcela Ruiz-Funes for her help in drafting the proposal and to the Spanish Curriculum Committee for its revisions. The proposal now only needs approval from the Graduate Council.

I will be attending the annual CAS Chairs' Retreat on January 30 and 31 at Pine Knoll Shores. Guest speakers are Provost William Swart, ECU Board of Trustees Chair Charles Franklin, ECU Trustees Chair-elect Jim Talton, and Joyner Library Director Carroll Varner. The speakers will be presenting their frameworks for change. I am in charge of the program, aided by Dr. Sutherland, chair of Physics and Dr. Nowaczyk, chair of Psychology.

Last September, Ann Borisoff-Rodgers and I attended a daylong "Education Summit: Planning for Prosperity, No Business Left Behind" at the Rock Springs Center, sponsored by the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce. Since then I've been working on ways in which the study of foreign languages, particularly Spanish, might be incorporated into the university's plans for enhancing the economic development of the region. My work is still in the preliminary stages so I won't report on it in detail at this time. One idea involves establishing a Center for Language and Culture that would house an ESL Institute as well as programs of FL for the Professions. Such a center would probably be ancillary to the university and possibly for-profit. Dr. Southard, chair of English, and I have already met with Dr. Tom Feldbush, Vice Chancellor for Research, Economic Development and Community Engagement, Al Delia, Associate Vice Chancellor and Ms. Marty Hackney, Regional Director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center.

Through all these activities, I have been working on increasing the visibility of our department across the state as well as the campus and expanding our network of supporters, particularly in the professional schools.


Sylvie Debevec Henning