Even in this stressful time, there are things to celebrate. This summer, graduate student Melissa Nieves Rivera won the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) Grant to support her project: “Integrating Numerical and Linguistic Knowledge in the Exact Interpretation of Numerals.” This fall, Dr. Paloma Martínez Cruz was one of four faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences to receive the Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award that “recognize[s] faculty who have exemplary records of engaging, motivating, and inspiring students as well as of making a difference in students’ educations, lives, and careers.” And in December, we heard that the K’acha Willaykuna collaboration will enter a new phase, supporting a two-year, two-part Artistic Residency (digital first, then in person) by two significant Andean and Amazonian indigenous artists who are connecting with transnational indigenous voices. The initiative was made possible through a grant from the university’s Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme and the combined efforts of the Center for Latin American Studies, the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and various colleagues in SPPO (Dr. Scott Schwenter, Dr. Michelle Wibblesman, Ms. Elvia Andia Grágeda and Dr. Isis Barra Costa).
Even as we recognize those singular accomplishments, we also want to celebrate the everyday efforts of other members of our department to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in thoughtful ways to advance the department’s teaching and research mission. In the chair’s letter from the Spring 2020 newsletter, I spoke of how instructors quickly adapted to the outbreak of the pandemic in the middle of the spring semester. In this newsletter, we’ll go more in-depth about how our graduate students, faculty members and staff have come up with innovative solutions to support student learning in the fall semester at all levels –from our language classes (through an interview with Ms. Megan Lobert, Assistant Language Program Director), to an English-language General Education course (led by graduate student Lucia Aja Lopez), to a course in the Spanish major (led by Dr. Eugenia Romero), to our graduate-level colloquia (led by Drs. Jonathan Burgoyne, Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza, Lúcia Costigan). In addition, interviews with Dr. Ana del Sarto and Ph.D. candidate Ashlee Dauphinais will reveal how scholars have found new ways to share their research via Zoom --bridging distances to speak with colleagues in other state and other countries.