Texas Tech University

Issue 22

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Message from the Chair

Pereira
Dr. Carmen Pereira
Department Chair and Professor of Spanish

To say that Spring 2020 has been an unusual semester would be a big understatement. The fast development of the Covid-19 pandemic caught us almost by surprise. At CMLL, we had just finished job searches for French and Spanish, had celebrated Céfiro, the Spanish graduate student conference, which this year joined forces with the Comparative Literature Symposium on Indigeneity, and we were starting to look forward to a well-deserved Spring Break, when the rapid spread of the coronavirus brought our lives to a radical halt. Overnight, we needed to change our teaching modalities and venture, for many of us, in a brave new world of virtual teaching. Our department rose to the occasion. All the programs swiftly developed contingency plans and were ready to keep offering to our students the quality teaching that is expected from us. The new format meant that many instructors had to go the extra mile to develop materials that would keep as engaged as possible our students who were stranded in their homes and scattered across the state and the country. Remote instruction became not just a way of continuing our classes, but in many cases a glue that provided much needed structure and held learning communities together.

I have heard of many students who were grateful to their CMLL teachers for not letting them down, and for keeping the standards high all the way to the end. I am not surprised, but still, it makes me so proud to see how well our department has handled the crisis. Testimony of the students' appreciation of our stellar faculty is the impressive representation of CMLL teachers in this year Phi Betta Kappa inductees as "the greatest influence on their intellectual development": Sara Guengerich, Maya Edwards, Susan Larson, Rossy Lima, Andrea Jonsson and Irina Drigalenko (twice!) were nominated by this year's class. Kudos to all of them!

There is more: in the midst of stay at home orders, CMLL managed to virtually host a conference (CALICHE) and run a successful job search for Applied Linguistics; two doctoral dissertation defenses and a master thesis defense took place with absolute rigor and professionalism. Congratulations to the new doctors Cheryl Maqueda and Ana Rodríguez-Padial, as well as to the 18 MA students who graduated this year. To them and all our CMLL majors who graduated this strange spring: you have the honor of having done so in the midst of duress and stress. You showed true grit, and deserve an even bigger recognition for this achievement. Our hats to you all, graduates of 2020!

Because of the cancellation of gatherings, some of our departmental awardees were deprived of a public award ceremony, so let's honor them here with the hope that they will be celebrated next year:  Alec Cattell received the TLPDC Spotlight Award for his above and beyond efforts to connect with and engage students, and for his service to the TLPDC; Kate Brooke, Spanish Foundations Online Coordinator, received the President's Excellence in Teaching Award, honoring her fantastic job creating the first two years of Spanish on-line. Susan Larson, Qualia Professor of Spanish, was awarded the Barnie E. Rushing, Jr. Faculty Distinguished Research Award in the Social Science, Humanities, and Creative Arts Disciplines. Raychel Vasseur, director of Spanish Foundations, was selected for the Research Spotlight on Texas Tech Women Faculty Initiative for 2020, honoring her excellence in research, scholarship, creative activity, teaching, and her above and beyond mentoring.

You made us all proud!

We had the happy news this spring that three of our faculty members received their much-deserved tenure and promotion: congratulations to Belinda Kleinhans, Caroline Bishop, and our dear departed Kimi Nakatsukasa, who was awarded promotion posthumously. Her family here and in Japan, and us, her CMLL family, were very moved and happy when her promotion was recognized.

Our CMLL family keeps growing: this fall five new faculty members will join us: Dr. Brandon Rogers (Spanish Linguistics/Translation Studies), Dr. Bernd Reiter (Spanish, Latin American Colonial and Postcolonial Studies), Dr. Ashley Voeks (French, Early Modern Studies), Dr. Linda Gosner (Classics, Roman Archeology), and Dr. Meixiu Zhang (Applied Linguistics). We are looking forward to their joining us in fall 2020.

Unfortunately, all our study abroad programs had to be canceled this summer, but with fingers crossed, by summer 2021 we are able to offer our students the possibility of these life changing experiences once again. So far, our crossed fingers have kept fall in Seville still going!

As safety guidelines are opening up, we are starting to look towards a fall semester where some sense of normalcy may come back to our department. All CMLL programs have planned hard to be able to offer some face to face instruction while keeping safety standards in mind at all times. As we go through a summer of online instruction, we will keep planning and readjusting our expectations for fall instruction, with the high hope that our building can once again echo with the chatter and laughter of students and teachers.

I, for one, cannot wait to see all of you again, for real. Happy and safe summer, everyone!