The International Education Partnership Award
Every year, we recognize individuals or organizations who significantly contribute to the mission of the SLLC: Those who help facilitate understanding of the world's the diversity through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, and those who offer opportunities to our students for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world.
At our annual convocation, we therefore bestow the International Education Partnership Award.
Steele is a company that is defining the way that skills and knowledge are used in the twenty-first century. In its short history, Steele CIS has employed many KU students and alumni in both contractor and career roles. It has actively sought KU students with foreign-language backgrounds. Moreover, it has provided PhD students with both career opportunities as well as concrete examples of what a non-academic career in foreign-languages looks like today.
Steele CIS is an innovative company that uses Internet technology together with highly educated employees to investigate international compliance with the US Federal Corrupt Practices Act. This work requires employees who understand both English and a wide range of other languages, it calls on their ability to read subtle culturally-embedded information, it requires them to conduct complex and challenging research, and, finally, it expects them to write effectively to communicate their findings.
Steele CIS is a company that is defining the way that skills and knowledge are used in the twenty-first century. In its short history, Steele CIS has employed many KU students and alumni in both contractor and career roles. It has actively sought KU students with foreign-language backgrounds. Moreover, it has provided PhD students with both career opportunities as well as concrete examples of what a non-academic career in foreign-languages looks like today. The SLLC mission statement aspires to provide “opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world”; Steele CIS gives our students a way to apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways to do good in the world, making it safer and ready for business, and thus a more humane place for international commerce to thrive.
For its support of KU SLLC’s mission, its students and alumni, we are pleased to award to Steele CIS the first annual KU SLLC International Education Partnership Award.
Clinton O. Robinson (Director of State & Local Government Affairs for Black & Veatch Corporation)
Clint Robinson is an Associate Vice President and serves as the Director of State & Local Government Affairs for Black & Veatch Corporation. He has worked for Black & Veatch Corporation since 1984 and is a Professional Engineer registered in Kansas and Missouri. He is also fluent in Spanish. His professional engineering history includes over 25 years of project related work in the water/wastewater engineering field. Five of those years were spent managing a successful operation in an office in Miami, FL for water related services in South Florida, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Clinton O. Robinson, Director of State & Local Government Affairs for Black & Veatch Corporation, has supported the KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures through his advocacy for language-learning and cultural competence in regional K–12 education and industry. He has helped the School to develop productive ties, for example, with the Blue Valley School District and Blue Valley CAPS, which are important sources of highly qualified students, as well as with Black & Veatch, whose world-wide reach requires an increasingly globally competent and culturally flexible workforce. Clinton O. Robinson has not only mastered Spanish and used it in his professional life as an executive, notably through his work with Latin American projects for Black & Veatch, but has his public visibility and professional leadership to highlight the importance of studying languages and cultures, and to encourage others to share this globalized approach in his business partnerships, outreach to professional schools, and his talks and seminars with the public at large.
In his warmly-received key-note address to the SLLC in 2016 in front of a full house of alumni, faculty, students and friends of the School, he spoke eloquently of his experience in language-learning and what it taught him about applying the lessons of cultural competence in the business world.
The Convocation’s festivities were made especially poignant by the fact that Clinton O. Robinson is the great-grandson of David Hamilton Robinson, “Lawrence’s Linguist” and one of the three founding faculty of KU in 1866, underlining the deep and dynamic commitment of KU to language and cultural education as well as the profound ties of the Robinson family to KU’s great traditions.
For his support of KU SLLC’s mission, its students and alumni, we are pleased to award to Clinton O. Robinson the second annual KU SLLC International Education Partnership Award.
Viktoria Olskaia is recognized for her significant contributions to building and sustaining the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures. Through her work as one of the first members of the SLLC Advisory Board and her office as President of the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation, she has been instrumental in helping the SLLC to create innovative opportunities for students to study abroad and put their languages to work in real-life circumstances.
Viktoria helped design and launch the Russophone Experiential Learning program in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the very first new study-abroad program associated with the SLLC and an innovative offering for the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures. The contributions she has made are significant, including helping to arrange institutional partnerships with KIMEP University as well as companies and NGOs in Almaty where students were placed for their learning experiences. She has fundraised and donated to help KU students defray part of the costs of participation and individually mentored many of the students.
The School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures is proud to present her this award in recognition of her service to the School and its students and, with this work, her continuation of Gabriel Al-Salem’s legacy of creativity and achievement in the application of language and culture to real-world problems that characterizes.
For her support of KU SLLC’s mission, its students and alumni, we are pleased to award to Viktoria Olskaia the third annual KU SLLC International Education Partnership Award.
Margarete Dorsch, of Lindsborg, KS, is a professor emerita of French and German at Bethany College, a teacher at Lindsborg High School, and an alumna of the KU German Program and also a Graduate Teaching Assistant in that program. She has also been a pillar of the annual Schülerkongress, held at KU. Today we recognize her for her many and lasting contributions to the education and mentorship of her students in Lindsborg, many of whom continued their studies at KU and have gone on to fulfilling lives and careers inspired significantly by her. Frau Dorsch, as her students affectionately call her, has touched many lives and continued to remain a mentor to her students long after they leave Lindsborg. Her influence is apparent in all the “Lindsborg gang” who come to KU: they are smart, curious, open-minded, compassionate, eager to both serve others and better themselves. Each one has their story of how Frau Dorsch was their idol, inspiration, and friend.
Margarete Dorsch also raised a magnificent son, Gabriel Al-Salem, whose talent, ingenuity, creativity, and joie-de-vivre helped him to achieve great things in his all-too-short life. A triple major in German, Russian, and Theatre, Gabriel went on to become a pioneer in the emerging field of management consultant in the post-Soviet states. His positive influence and achievements continue to be felt widely among his friends, co-workers, and clients in this dynamic part of the world. The work of the Ga-briel Al-Salem Foundation seeks opportunities to perpetuate his influence in successive generations of students, including many KU students, who have had the opportunity to study and work under the auspices of the Foundation in his beloved adopted country of Kazakhstan. As the Russian saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Gabriel’s legacy is also Frau Dorsch’s legacy.
We recognize Frau Dorsch as an exemplary teacher, mentor, and inspiring human being, who has made an incalculable difference in the lives of her students and in so doing made our world, both the world of KU, and world at large, that much better.
For her support of KU SLLC’s mission, its students and alumni, we are pleased to award to Margarete Dorsch the third annual KU SLLC International Education Partnership Award.
Jakob Ukunoritsemofe Gordon
This year the SLLC Educational Partnership Award goes to Dr. Jacob Ukunoritsemofe Gordon, the founding chair of the KU Department of African & African-American Studies. Dr. Gordon not only served effectively as an advocate for language-learning as a member of the SLLC Advisory Board, but he has lived an exemplary life across many languages, cultures, and countries, from Africa to Europe to North America. He has made significant contributions to KU’s curriculum, research profile, citizenship, and, most recently, helped us to establish in-country ties to Tanzania to develop Prof. Kathryn Rhine’s CoLab field experience in medical humanities with a focus on Kiswahili in its East African setting. I will now yield the podium to my colleague, Prof. Cécile Accilien, who will give you some details about Dr. Gordon’s many achievements. Those who would like to know more should read his outstanding memoir, which also serves as a snapshot of key moments in the history of KU: Double Heritage: A Memoir, published this year by New World African Press.
We are greatly inspired by Dr. Gordon’s contributions and his continued service to KU and to KU’s language programs.
-Marc L. Greenberg, Director, SLLC
I have been given the Herculean task of highlighting the career of Dr. Jacob U Gordon, Professor Emeritus of African and African American Studies at KU in less than 2 minutes as we present him with the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures (SLLC) Educational Partnership Award.
He has been a strong supporter of languages both as an SLLC advisory board member and the founding chair of the Department of African and African American (which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020). In highlighting the work and contribution of Dr. Gordon I would like to refer to two African proverbs that encompasses his vision, leadership and contribution to African and African American Studies at KU. “Those who accomplish great things pay attention to little ones”, and “he who learns, teaches”. These proverbs embody the work and life of Dr. Gordon. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards and author of countless important national and international publications.
As a KU emeritus professor, Dr. Gordon became the Kwame Nkrumah Endowed Chair at the University of Ghana. This was an important research and academic partnership that placed KU and AAAS in international limelight in Africa. That partnership initiated the establishment of presidential libraries in Africa and also resulted in a book on the history of African studies at the University of Ghana. His work at the University of Ghana was so valuable and inimitable that he was given a consecutive appointment to the endowed chair, a departure from their usual process. While in Ghana he became members of a group that founded the African Studies Association of Africa. This endowed chair cemented fruitful collaboration and exchange for students and colleagues in the Department of African and African American Studies.
As the founding chair of the department, Dr. Gordon named the department choosing African & African Studies instead of "Black Studies" so as to be inclusive and visionary to highlight the focus on Africa as well as the diaspora.
He also expanded the department's outreach to the K-12 segment of Kansas education by sponsoring summer courses and workshops for Kansas teachers in the public school system, exposing them to both content and innovative ways of incorporating African and African studies into their curricular offerings. By the same token, in partnership with the public school system, Jake sent department faculty to make presentations on African American studies at K-12 institutions in the region. Long before there was a serious concern for incarcerated people of color in the prison industrial complex, Dr. Gordon through grants, implemented both educational and research programs at the Kansas State Prison at Lansing and the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, part of which resulted in the making of a prison film at the Kansas State Prison in 1975. His colleague Dr. Dorthy Pennington associate professor of Communications and African & African American Studies states: “Dr. Gordon was the department's strongest leader for outreach and for making AAAS visible in the world, both in the US and in Africa.” Likewise, Dr. Peter Ukpokodu, current professor and former chair of African & African American Studies notes: “His foresightedness in working with the administration to found a department, instead of a program, of African Studies is [a watershed moment in the history of KU] . Being a department [with him as. Its first chair provided] a stable and solid foundation for a nascent African Studies department in a predominantly white institution. His ability as a pathfinder made it possible for the seeds of African languages that had hitherto laid dormant to sprout for his successors, and to yield harvests.” Dr. Gordon worked tirelessly with the Kansas African Studies Center directors to secure grants to teach African languages. This includes fostering exchanges and partnerships with universities in Benin, Nigeria and Ghana. This helped lay the foundation for the strong language programs that we have in AAAS today. Our department currently teaches the following African languages: Arabic, Amharic, Kiswahili, and Wolof. This semester we are introducing Yoruba through a Fulbright Teaching Assistant from Nigeria.
As Dr. Gordon continues to learn via his teaching, research and service he remains committed to teaching others about African and the African diaspora via languages and cultures. It is with great honor that I present this award to Dr. Gordon and I say on behalf of all my colleagues in the Department of African & African American Studies and the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures Asante Sana meaning ‘thank you’ in Kiswahili!
-Cécile Accilien, Chair, African & African-American Studies