The following was composed by Phade Orion Vader in 2004 and read at a special career recognition ceremony held for Dr. Zyla in connection with the Comparative Literature Symposium at the Texas Tech campus, March 27, 2004.
"Thank you, Dr. Zyla"
I still recall the first day that I met Dr. Zyla when he stopped by the Language Laboratory and introduced himself to me. I had been Director of the facility for a number of years at that point, and it was a natural bit of good fortune that we ultimately crossed paths.
My immediate impression was that he was a gentleman who possessed a vibrant passion for languages and world cultures, and about the Lab. Through that initial meeting and several others over the years after, I learned that Dr. Zyla had been Director of the Language Laboratory from 1971 until 1981, and heard of his experiences as he worked to support and promote the Lab. There was no mistaking the excitement in his voice (along with a gleaming smile) as he shared some of his favorite Lab stories, each one a fascinating glimpse into Lab life from a past era. I valued his visits and revelations of Lab history, and found it very easy to imagine that his enthusiasm for the Lab had never lost its luster.
One day some years ago, I happened upon a folder stored deep in our file room that was labeled simply “Language Lab.” The folder contained various reports and memos preserved from years before, including many written by Dr. Zyla. The documents helped patch together a portrait of the time, all of which I read with much interest. I could see that Dr. Zyla was not only an avid promoter of the Language Laboratory, but that he was also an important player in pushing the Lab’s technology forward.
I read his requests to the University Administration about the importance of funding equipment upgrades; I could see that he invested time to understand the technology contemporary to the time so that he could offer informed decisions on the Lab's development; and I certainly gained a sense of the esteem and pride he had for the Language Laboratory, which he freely shared with his faculty colleagues.
Today, Texas Tech’s language facility bears the name “Language Learning Laboratory & Resource Center,” a reflection of its fortuitous growth into a large, robust operation of international recognition. I am proud that Dr. Zyla was such a vigilant proponent of the Lab, and that his contributions during his years as Director are a part of the history that brought us to the success we know today. Thank you, Dr. Zyla—for all you did, and thank you for sharing the history with us.
Phade Orion Vader
Managing Director, Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures
Prior Director of the LLL&RC