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Linda Ledford Miller, A Tribute

February 20, 2018
By: Robert Parsons

This article is from the Department of Latin American and Women's Studies Newsletter, which you can read here

Linda Ledford-Miller began her career at the University of Scranton in the fall of 1985. At that time I had already been here for 6 years, but I had known her since 1978 or 1979 when we met as graduate students at Penn State. In the intervening years she went to Brazil on a Fulbright scholarship and completed all her doctoral studies but the dissertation in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin.

Linda immediately brought a burst of energy and spontaneity to a somewhat staid, all-male department, then known as Foreign Languages and Literatures. In an era in which language study was on the wane, Linda was, from the very beginning, a staunch and outspoken defender of foreign languages and cultural diversity. Early on she secured a $60,000 grant from the Culpepper Foundation to renovate our outdated language lab facilities, which she transformed into a center for technologically based language learning activities and directed for several years after returning from another Fulbright, this time to Guatemala.

For a number of years, Linda and I were the only Latin Americanists at the University of Scranton. During the 1990s, however, a number of new hires in a variety of disciplines, such as Janice Voltzow in Biology, came to the University with experience and interest in Latin America. Several veteran faculty members, such as Kevin Nordberg, Sharon Meagher, Stephen Casey and Bob Kocis, developed strong interest in the region through their travels and associations. Linda's efforts, in conjunction with Bob Kocis, were instrumental in bringing Dr. Alexander López, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, to the University of Scranton for AY 1997-98. Dr. López taught courses in both the Foreign Languages and Literatures and Political Science department and helped to increase awareness of the importance of Latin America in the general University community. The following year Linda secured an NEH focus grant to organize a faculty seminar on Latin American Identity. Faculty from departments across the University participated and the activities of that group gave rise to a proposal for a concentration in Latin American Studies, which was received favorably by the administration and accepted by the various University curriculum approval bodies.

The efforts of Linda and other advocates of Latin American Studies, together with the support of upper-level administrators in the late 1990s and throughout the decade beginning in 2000, resulted in the hiring of several outstanding dedicated Latin Americanists, such as Lee Penyak, Mike Allison and Yamile Silva, and made our dream of a strong program in Latin American Studies a reality. Among Linda's many contributions to the University of Scranton, this is the one that had the most direct positive influence on my career and for which I am most grateful. I am proud to have worked closely with her as a colleague and a friend for the past 30 plus years. 

 

Read the full article in the LA/WS Newsletter here.

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