Lorum Stratton, Ph.D. Spanish 1969-2016, Retires from Texas Tech University
Hola a todos:
It´s been quite a ride. I hope you will enjoy or tolerate my reminiscing. In August 1969 Karen and I with two little boys drove one car and a U-haul trailer into the quiet well-kept city of Lubbock Texas to become the newest assistant professor of Spanish in the Foreign Language Department at Texas Technological College. I would never have dreamed that in the year 2018, some 49 years later, I would be writing an article for the newsletter of the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures at the prestigious institution called Texas Tech University.
The position that I accepted was to supervise and oversee the first-year Spanish program, to direct and develop a recently started study abroad program in the city of San Luis Potosí, México, and to teach 3-4 classes each semester. I think that one of the plus factors in my hiring at Texas Tech was that I had actually lived in San Luis Potosi for a period of time that I was a missionary for my church. Texas Technological had just under 10,000 students in 1969, and my beginning salary was $10,300. Lubbock was a developing city of about 100,000 residents. There were no houses south of the South Loop, and the South Plains Mall was just beginning construction in the middle of a huge empty field. We did survive the deadly tornado of May 1970 losing only the back fence and a tree.
Within my first year, the university´s name was officially changed to Texas Tech University, a huge boost for the humanities, and final approval was given to offer a Ph.D. in Spanish. Within our first years at Tech, we added two Texas born, Texas proud daughters, and the department hired Dr. Roberto Bravo to be the Assistant Director of the Mexico Field Program. I would love to mention many names of great colleagues and especially the fantastic students I have had the privilege to teach and to take on study abroad programs, but it would be impossible to do in this short space.
Dr. Bravo and I developed the Mexico Field Course program into one of the premier study abroad programs of the USA. AATSP did a national evaluation site visit to all existing programs. Texas Tech was in the top 1% of all programs, and the evaluator even provided some additional kudos. We took from 40 – 60 students each summer, for many years by bus from Lubbock to SLP until finally air service came. Dr. Bravo often referred to those first years as: "tiempos heroicos". I was director or assistant director for some 35 years, and took approximately 1,500 students to Mexico.
An opportunity was given me in 1976 to move to a different university as Chair of the department. After a soul searching struggle, we decided that we loved our job, loved the opportunity to take students to Mexico, and felt that Lubbock was the perfect place to raise our family. I never opened a job vacancy book again. Lubbock and Tech were going to be and will be our home.
In addition to the study abroad directorship, I served as Department Chair twice, from 1979- 1986, and from 2011 – 2013. I also served as Associate Chair for over 15 years. In 2004, I was given the opportunity to teach in the summer study abroad program in Sevilla, Spain. I have now taught a number of summers and eight semesters with the Tech program here in Sevilla. We have fallen in love with Sevilla and southern Spain, and if we had the money, we would spend our retirement years bouncing between Lubbock and Sevilla. I officially retired in summer 2016, then taught a year part-time. I thought my academic career was over. However, the administrative office at Texas Tech Center in Sevilla had an opening for the academic year 2017-2018. They called and asked if Karen and I would be interested in spending another year in Sevilla. As you may surmise, we are here enjoying the job and life. One of Don Quixote´s first proverbs is: "Donde una puerta se cierra, otra se abre" (When one door shuts, another opens). With our four children, nine grandchildren, one great grandchild with more on the way and good health, we are hoping to open a number of new doors.
A most heartfelt thanks to my colleagues and my students who have greatly enriched my life. Also, I am honored to have a study abroad scholarship endowed in my name. I have never been the best correspondent, but I would love to hear from all of you who know us, especially you incredible outstanding study abroad students. I will be better in responding by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My fervent hope is that I have been able to give as much or more than has been given to me. I will not say adiós, but rather "hasta la próxima" (until the next time).
Sincerely, respectfully, cariñosamente, con amor...