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German program receives Center of Excellence distinction

| Shari Lau

As the German program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire continues to grow, assistant professor of German Dr. Josh Brown and professors of German Drs. Martina Lindseth, Johannes Strohschänk and Jeff Vahlbusch are excited to announce that it is now designated a German Center of Excellence by the American Association of Teachers of German.

"The German Centers of Excellence program identifies and honors excellence at all levels of instruction K-16," Lindseth said. "The designation is presented to well-established and growing German programs with strong support from the administration, colleagues, alumni, parents and students."
Since 2012, only five post-secondary institutions have been awarded this title: the University of Arizona, Michigan State University, Middlebury College, Western Washington University, Emory University and Valparaiso University.

UW-Eau Claire will now join this prestigious rank.

"What is even more impressive, is we were the only post-secondary school awarded the title this year," Lindseth said. "We are not only the sole UW System institution to be a Center of Excellence, but also the first and only Wisconsin post-secondary institution to be a Center of Excellence."

The lengthy application process to be considered for this honor included a justifying narrative, statements of support from colleagues, administrators, students, alumni and other German programs throughout the nation. Each application underwent a competitive judging round by a panel of AATG educators and administrators. The jurors determined that UW-Eau Claire's German program is "excellent in every category" and lauded that "this is truly a program that is designed to meet the needs of students."

One of those students, senior Anneli Williams from Eau Claire, praised her course work in German.
"German courses at UW-Eau Claire are consistently innovative, interactive and relevant," she said.

During William's study abroad semester in Germany, she worked with faculty in the German program to apply for an internship at the acclaimed Deutscher Sprachatlas, an institute for German linguistics. Working on German dialect mapping technology brought together her two majors, German and geography, for an experience that Williams characterizes as "invaluable."

The German program at UW-Eau Claire sets a high standard for excellence, and its reputation is well-known in the UW System.

Dr. Monika Chavez, professor of German and second language acquisition at UW-Madison, provided the awards jury with her enthusiastic recommendation stating, "Eau Claire's faculty has dedicated a phenomenal degree of energy to the establishment of connections with the German-speaking world that allow other Eau Claire faculty, students and members of the local community to participate in meaningful international dialogue."
The reputation of UW-Eau Claire's German program has also brought many students to the university and striven to prepare them well for their careers. Kathryn Lance, a 2009 UW-Eau Claire graduate from Waukesha, remembers her experiences at UW-Eau Claire fondly.

"Although accepted to a number of other universities, I decided upon UW-Eau Claire due to its reputation around the state for its strong German language program," Lance said. "The program is known for its excellent professors and for its various opportunities for students — from study abroad to collaborative research. I had high expectations for the German program at UW-Eau Claire; it exceeded every single one."
After graduation, Lance used her experiences in German to work on translating German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's memoirs and in an internship at the European Policy Centre in Belgium. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Members of the German program will accept the German Center of Excellence award during the awards presentation at the AATG Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Annual Convention and World Languages Expo Nov. 21 in San Diego, California.

Photo captions:

Top photo: Dr. Josh Brown engages students during a German 202 class.