To all our friends and colleagues, students and alumni,
To note that there have been a lot of changes since our last issue, not just department-level but in the world, seems a bit superfluous. I will note with appreciation and gratitude the enormous commitments in time, energy, and dedication of our instructors and staff as we switched quickly in the past Spring semester to entirely online/remote instructional formats. Sometimes it can look too easy from the outside, and when it does that is primarily testament to the hard work and professionalism of those involved. It bears repeating that this was, and remains, an enormous undertaking. Kudos as well to our students who were – and still are – also required to (re)learn and often improvise on the fly. While we are back to face-to-face instruction this Fall, it is still a far cry from “normal”… Many of us are teaching in hybrid or similar formats, as we adopt and adapt new technology along with supplementary pedagogical tools and approaches. In other words, the extra efforts and energy involved have not abated. I’ve had earnest conversations with many folks over the intervening months, and it is both awe-inspiring and humbling to see the ways in which our faculty and staff are going the extra mile(s!) to continue to provide quality instructional experiences for our students.
I want to also use this space to acknowledge two retirements this past Spring. Dr. Johannes Strohschänk, a cornerstone of our German section, has retired after 30+ years of teaching at this university, including a seven-year stint as Department Chair. An amazing run. We have managed to rope him into giving a Faculty Forum talk or two, since he lost his chance at a parting shot – hopefully not directed at the current Chair – due to covid-related cancellations in the Spring. Dr. Emilia Oswalt also retired after a decade teaching for us in the English as a Second Language program (now called the Intensive English Program), as well as her work as not just the cornerstone but the only stone of our Russian language offerings. We wish both our beloved colleagues all the best as they enjoy their retirements.
Also, for all of you Facebook users, we are in the process of updating our department page to include the occasional faculty and staff profiles. If you want to visit the department page, here is the link (you need a Facebook account for full access): https://www.facebook.com/UWECLanguages
This newsletter is once again packed with interesting updates on Languages students, faculty, and alumni. Covid has only caused us to recalibrate and rededicate; as you will see, it has not been successful in slowing us down. The 4th floor of Centennial Hall is quieter these days than in a normal Fall, but we nonetheless continue to enjoy hearing about what is going on with Languages alumni, esp. as you move onward and outward from your time at UWEC.
Of course, as always we very much appreciate our alumni and friends’ continued interest in, and support of, our efforts. Our best wishes that you and yours are safe and healthy. Stay just so!
Matt Waters, Chair, Department of Languages