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Q&A With Sara Friedrichsmeyer, Professor of German

After two terms as department head, Sara Friedrichsmeyer will step down from her role in German Studies on Sept.

Date: 8/15/2006
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513)556-8577
After two terms as department head, Sara Friedrichsmeyer will step down from her role in German Studies on Sept. 1.

“I look forward to resuming a full research and teaching schedule,” said Friedrichsmeyer, whose awards in those areas include the Dolly Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Ohio Foreign Language Association's Publications Award.

Friedrichsmeyer’s leadership has moved the department forward in many ways, from its very name to its varied outreach efforts.

A few of her comments on her role in the department’s evolution:

Q: You’ve been part of some very far-reaching changes in this department over the past 10 years. What are some of your proudest achievements?

A: They include helping to secure the funding necessary for continued departmental success – results include completion in 1998 of the Max Kade German Cultural Center across from our departmental offices. The Kade Center is regularly used for departmental lectures, meetings, and special events such as a Viennese Ball. It is also regularly scheduled by others throughout the university for a variety of meetings and receptions.

I’m also proud of creating a special relationship with the Max Kade Foundation in New York City with the result that the Foundation now provides annual funding for a Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor, a Max Kade Graduate Fellowship, and additional funds for programming in the Max Kade Center.

Q: Tell us more about moving the department in the direction of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies.

A: This began with helping to guide the department’s name change from the “Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures” to the “Department of German Studies,” and helping to revamp the departmental mission so that our teaching and research mission now includes a broad approach to the culture of the German-speaking countries. Results also include GS's initiative in creating the European Studies Program; working with other A&S departments, we submitted a successful proposal for a Taft Enhancement Grant that funded the program for its first four years. The program was originally only for graduate students but is now offered on the undergraduate level as well.

Other accomplishments: maintaining a 100-percent placement rate for our PhD graduates at a time when positions in the Humanities in general and certainly in German are less than plentiful; and guiding the department through a successful external evaluation in 2003.

The outside reviewers had high praise for the quality of our programs and our faculty, and emphasized the outstanding results the department has achieved with its careful and caring attention to our graduate students as well as the department's overall excellence in comparison with other comparable graduate programs around the country.

Q: What do you see down the road for German Studies?

A: The biggest challenge will be to find new and creative ways to maintain the quality of departmental programs in these years when institutional funding is continually decreasing.

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