2015 Winter Newsletter

Letter From the Chair: Ana M. Gómez-Bravo As I step in as new chair, I would like to first thank Professor Tony Geist for leaving such a cordial and vibrant department in my hands. When I arrived at the University of Washington over two years ago, I was impressed by the caliber of the research and teaching in Spanish and Portuguese, the friendly work environment, and the dynamism of the faculty and staff. The possibilities afforded by UW and the larger Seattle community have been used to the… Read more
Faculty Spotlight: Anthony L. Geist Tony Geist is a big man, both in stature (he stands well over six feet tall) and in his capacity for turning ideas into realities. During twelve years as Chair of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, Geist brought the department to a new level. His spacious office on the first floor of Padelford Hall housed his impressive collection of books and publications and became, during Geist’s residence, a hub for ideas, conversations, brainstorming, troubleshooting and… Read more
Study Abroad During this summer’s Study Abroad Program in Quito, Ecuador, students had the opportunity to visit several sites outside of Quito. The trips, chosen for their compatibility with Program Director, Jorge González’s intent to expose students to a variety of experiences in Ecuador, proved to be eye-openers for students.  Baños, a four-hour drive from Quito, and at a lower elevation, is known for its astonishing natural beauty and extreme sports activities. Smaller and more compact than… Read more
Staff Spotlight: Leigh Beckley Leigh Beckley, Administrator for Spanish & Portuguese Studies, may be a new face in the department, but she has been at UW long enough to describe herself as “a lifer.” Beckley comes to SPS after one year with the Division of Cardiology and, prior to that, eight years in the Department of Pediatrics. But that doesn’t even begin to cover Beckley’s history with the UW. Beckley, who grew up in Kennewick, a small town in eastern Washington, received her BFA in Art… Read more
Faculty Rave: Leigh Mercer and Donald Gilbert-Santamaria Faculty members, Leigh Mercer and Donald Gilbert-Santamaría, have taken on new departmental positions aimed at enhancing efficiency and providing increased student support.  Leigh Mercer | Associate Chair  In addition to being an Associate Professor with Spanish & Portuguese, Leigh Mercer is the Associate Chair of the department.  Since taking on the position one year ago under then-chair, Anthony Geist… Read more
Alumni Spotlight: Chris Gregorich On the seventh floor of City Hall, the Mayor’s office vibrates with activity. The phone on the reception desk rings incessantly. A news crew films an interview on the balcony overlooking Puget Sound and the Smith Tower. Elevator doors burst open, delivering a steady stream of people to meetings -- all to do with the business of running Seattle. At the center of the action is Chris Gregorich, Mayor Ed Murray’s Chief of Staff and a 2001 alumnus of the UW Spanish… Read more
Student Spotlight: Angela Durán Real Angela Durán Real, Ph.D. student in Spanish & Portuguese Studies’ newly established program, is a busy woman as she begins the second of five years toward her doctorate. In addition to her substantial academic workload, Durán Real is an SPS Teaching Assistant and a lecturer at Seattle Pacific University. Previously, she lectured at UW Tacoma and worked for the Language Link in Seattle, teaching Spanish to grade school students. Durán Real is from Azuaga… Read more
León Bensadon, longtime friend and colleague of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Division, passed away on November 4, 2012. Donations in León's Memory can be made to the “León Bensadon Memorial Scholarship Fund.” This new fund pays tribute to León’s passion for his Sephardic heritage and the students he loved to teach. It benefits UW undergraduate or graduate students interested in working on Sephardic and… Read more
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Changing demographics nationally and locally lend a new urgency to our mission to study language, literatures, and cultures. Join us today as we strive to create knowledgeable and compassionate citizens, and foster in them tolerance, respect for cultural diversity, a capacity for critical thinking, and a sense of themselves as responsible members of a global community.  The Friends of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Fund is an unrestricted, discretionary resource. These funds are vital in… Read more
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We would like to highlight two special funds available to help students of the Spanish and Portuguese Studies Division accomplish study-abroad and career-development goals.  David William Foster Fund  The David William Foster Fund has supported advanced language training for one graduate student each year since 2005. Normally it has been used for training in Spanish in Oaxaca, but in 2011 it was granted to a department graduate student from Spain to work on her English in Seattle. … Read more
The Cervantes Institute was founded in Spain in 1991. The largest organization of its kind, its mission is to promote the teaching and learning of Spanish and to make known the diverse cultures of Spanish speaking countries. “There are 70 centers around the world,” said director, María Luisa Miguéliz, who works tirelessly to promote the mission of the Cervantes Institute. “Thanks to an agreement between the UW and the Cervantes Institute, Seattle has one of only five centers located in the… Read more
Welcome to Ana García de Jalón, the new Director of the Center for Spanish Studies.  Born in Zaragoza, close to the Pyrenees in northeastern Spain, García de Jalón attended Zaragoza University where she got masters degrees in Spanish and English. She spent a year in London and a year in Ireland working as a Language Assistant. “I then spent three years in Santa Fe, New Mexico as an exchange teacher,” said García de Jalón, “bringing my family with me. It was a terrific experience for all of us… Read more