A Note From the Chair

CATEGORIES: October 2014

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.  As I have mentioned in the past, the goal of our newsletter is to stay more closely connected by bringing you news and updates about the department, its students and faculty, and our larger role in the university. To that end, I am pleased to tell you about new developments, new faculty, and some exciting things on the horizon.  

I am very pleased to tell you that demand for language and culture instruction continues to increase at Iowa State.  As you may have heard, this fall the university welcomed another record enrollment and now teaches to 34,732 students.  The Department of World Languages and Cultures set its own record of sorts: the number of majors studying in our department has increased 25% over a year ago at this time.  Moreover, preliminary figures for fall 2014 tell us that WLC had a growth of 19% in Student Credit Hours as compared to last year.  Both data points highlight out commitment to high quality instruction as well as the overwhelming satisfaction of students. In fact, I reported to you in the past that students regularly give faculty a 4.5/5.0 rating for instruction—a true a mark of excellence!

We are thrilled that so many students are interested in learning another language! And we are committed to improving instruction each year.  In addition to participating in regular assessment reviews of our courses, several faculty have filed Continuous Improvement Plans in accordance with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences mission to always provide the most updated and student-centered approaches.  WLC does its part through attendance at campus workshops and seminars as well as research-related conferences across the world. And in August 2014 the department sponsored a teaching methodologies workshop for new faculty, which was also well attended by current faculty.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to introduce a few new faculty to the department, some of whom you will learn about in this issue of the newsletter: Dr. Ghinwa Alameen in Arabic, Michael Ballard in American Sign Language, Dr. James Marks in Classics, and Drs. Adolfo Carrillo and Erik Ladner in Spanish.  We welcome them all to the faculty and are very happy to count them among our colleagues.

Finally, I would like to share some wonderful news about some possible hires in the near future.  The Spanish section expects to hire an assistant professor of Spanish linguistics who will coordinate the lower levels of the Spanish program and work with a possible graduate specialization in Spanish as part of the Department of English’s Applied Linguistics M.A. program.  

Also, just a couple of weeks ago, we received the happy news that our proposal for an associate or full professor of Spanish was selected by ISU President Leath as part of the very competitive Presidential High Impact hiring program.  As you may know, President Leath has set a goal of hiring 200 new faculty members at ISU, and the Presidential High Impact program is one way that university units can collaborate across disciplines in innovative areas.  In our case, WLC will team with ISU Extension and Outreach to hire a colleague who will work with Hispanic youth and family communities through ISU Extension and Outreach’s state-wide presence while also collaborating with key campus organizations to respond to issues related to Latino student access to post secondary education, retention, and graduation. We are absolutely thrilled that President Leath views favorably the significance of our efforts to contribute to Iowa State’s land-grant mission through engagement with local and state constituencies.  We hope you do too!

As always, I encourage you to send me a message, call me, or stop by the department whenever you would like.  I appreciate hearing from current and former students and I welcome the opportunity to talk with supporters like you about what we are doing in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.