Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Archives: 2004 Chair's Corner

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Sylvie Debevec Henning



The Chair's Corner
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures



December 2004


Several years ago, Mme. Marie Gorsline, the wife of the late American artist and illustrator Douglas Gorsline, first proposed to give her properties in France, including an apartment in Paris and a farm in Burgundy, to East Carolina University. Dean W. Keats Sparrow, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and Dean Michael Dorsey, College of Fine Arts and Communications, spearheaded the negotiations. The French faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures were enthusiastic about the study and research abroad possibilities that the acquisition of these properties offered. Now after many months, the negotiations have finally been successfully concluded.

The Foundation of Renewal for Eastern North Carolina (FoR ENC) recently announced that it had received a major gift from Mme. Marie Gorsline. Mme. Gorsline has given the Foundation the major assets of her estate. She has created a charitable remainder trust with FoR ENC serving as trustee and remainder beneficiary.

The farm in located in the village of Bussy-le-Grand in the province of Burgundy, about 60 km from Dijon. On the property is currently the Musee Gorsline. A multi-purpose museum featuring the works of Douglas Gorsline, it also houses a gallery and a performance space. A center is planned that will include conference rooms, studios, and accommodations for artists and scholars. The press release announcing the details of the gift indicates that "the Center will be designated primarily for study and use by students, faculty, and constituents of the 36 member institutions of the Higher Education Consortium for Eastern North Carolina, an entity sponsored by FoR ENC. The Musee Gorsline and Center will maintain affiliations and reciprocal agreements for residential study with a variety of statewide and national organizations and institutions. The trust assets are valued at $5 million, and include the extensive collection of the works and copyrights of Douglas Gorsline."

A number of possible uses for the properties have been suggested. At its Fall 2003 meeting, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures Advancement Council, under the direction of Dr. Georgia Hook Shurr, endorsed a proposal for an Academy for French Teachers.

"Designed as a language immersion academy," the proposal states, "the academic program would include seminars dealing with diverse aspects of contemporary French culture, history, and literature. Some emphasis would be placed on teaching skills and exploration of pedagogical information, new materials, and current trends in foreign language education. The fundamental goal, however, is to encourage the teachers to improve their own practical language skills (speaking, comprehending, reading and writing) in order that they might become better teachers of French.

"[The initial part of] the program, held on the campus of East Carolina University, would prepare the teachers for their following experience in France. The second part of the Academic, held in Paris, followed by Bussy-le-Grand, would continue with lectures and discussions related to the French language and diverse aspects of French culture. Emphasis would be placed on dramatic changes in contemporary France."

The Advancement Council hopes to find funding to establish such an Academy and to provide nearly full scholarships for teachers from Eastern North Carolina. We hope that such an Academy can become a reality within the next five years.


Sylvie Debevec Henning


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