I am pleased to extend a welcoming hand to you on behalf of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University. One of our most precious experiences concerns our interaction with students. It is our wish that upon graduation they would continue to be productive members of society as they develop distinguished careers.
At Spanish and Portuguese, we are engaged in teaching, research, and service in diverse areas. The faculty is greatly interested in a broad array of theoretical, cultural and practical subjects in the fields of Peninsular Literature, Latin American Literature, and Hispanic Linguistics. We offer undergraduate courses towards the completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish with the possibility of selecting among several tracks involving Literature, Linguistics, Business and Professional Studies, and Spanish for Education. Moreover, we offer graduate course work leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Spanish.
I firmly believe that what we do in Spanish and Portuguese is an important component of the Liberal Arts, of that type of education which is essential to the well-being of our society. In this context, I submit to you that we have a significant role to play in shaping the future of our society because our disciplines explore both utilitarian and value oriented issues which depend on critical thinking as they influence many of the future leaders of our nation in their attempts to do well for themselves and for the world in which they function.
Liberal Arts education allows students to acquire a broad educational background as distinguished from more specialized professional and/or technical narrow education. As a whole, Liberal Arts education is more extensive than other types of education. This is clearly reflected by General Education requirements representing the Sciences, the Social Sciences, the Humanities and the Arts. With Liberal Arts education, it is recognized that students have a wide variety of goals which need to be considered in their academic training. Liberal Arts education does not prevent students, however, from gaining an in-depth grasp of at least one academic field so that they may deal with its problems with some sophistication. In sum, in Liberal Arts education a balance must be found between the broad core curriculum aims and the specialization afforded by an academic major. Up to a point, Liberal Arts education concerns, simultaneously, the passing of cultural heritages and the introduction into worthwhile ways of thinking and doing in the fostering of individual growth. Throughout, it seeks to maintain and enhance each individual’s competence for coping both with life and with the inherited creative powers possessed by everyone in such a manner as to facilitate the individual’s ability to adapt to experiences previously unknown: that is, Liberal Arts education teaches how to learn. Ultimately, it is real education. It is, as stated many years ago by a Harvard Psychologist, the education which survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. Increasingly so, it is much more than a list of courses taken in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts; it is much more than the formal academic and utilitarian proficiency a student attains in the aforementioned areas. At its best, Liberal Arts education must involve student interaction with faculty members and other students outside the classroom along with independent study and research, and participation in the intellectual and cultural life afforded by a university community such as ours. Throughout, it must strive for an internationalized and diverse rigorous curriculum, such as the one afforded by Spanish and Portuguese at Temple, so that the students are better able to function in a pluralistic world.
I would like to conclude these remarks with some personal comments. Born in Cuba, I come from a family of educators and medical doctors. I have been in this great nation of ours for almost fifty years. My main fields of specialization include modern Spanish literature and Cuban culture. After many years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I was delighted to accept an offer to come to Temple as the new Spanish and Portuguese Chair. In so doing, I was drawn by a sense of Temple’s forward momentum: exciting things are happening here and I wanted to be involved in the orderly and careful evolution of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at a transitional point in its history and the history of the University. Since my arrival over three years ago, we have been involved in the systematic review of what we do. I know that much has been accomplished and that much more will need to be achieved with everyone’s help. To do so is necessary if we are to facilitate the development and growth of our programs in order to continue providing a rich and rewarding educational experience to our students. I believe that we have every reason to be optimistic in view of the substantive demand for our courses and the support we are receiving from the College of Liberal Arts and others at Temple.
Allow me to conclude by, once again, welcoming you to our Department. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need my assistance. As Chair, you will always find my door open. Here’s to a great 2013-2014!
Luis T. González del Valle, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair