Adamsons bid 'adieu,' 'auf wiedersehn' to WSU, US

2:06:23 PM CDT - Tuesday, May 06, 2003

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Adamsons.jpg (14,551 bytes)
Photo by Jim Meyer

Jardine Hall, in the background, has been a

special place, both personally and

professionally, for retiring language

professors Ginette and Carl Adamson. The

two met as first-year teachers at WSU in a

second-floor mailroom in Jardine in spring

1966. Two months later they were married.

Their offices were located in the building

during their 34-year tenure.

For language professors Carl and Ginette Adamson, Jardine Hall is a special place.

It's where the two met as first-year professors at WSU in the spring of 1966, and where they are now packing up their fourth-floor offices as they start another chapter of their life together, after spending a total of 34 years teaching at WSU.

But there's another place that is special to the Adamsons — Strasbourg, France. And it's where the two are moving to following their retirements this month.

In the fall of 1965, Carl, who teaches German, and Ginette, a French professor, were just embarking on their college teaching careers.

Ginette had immigrated to America two years earlier from Haiti. She had breezed through school in Haiti, skipping grades as her mother encouraged her love for learning. On a visit to her father in 1963 in New York City, she decided to stay and get a degree from a U.S. university, despite the fact she didn't know English. She earned a master's degree in one year, by the time she was 20, in 1964 from North Carolina Central University.

Carl, during those same two years, had just finished his bachelor's degree at WSU in 1963 and he was working on his  master's degree from Washington University.

Their paths would cross in the second-floor mailroom in April 1966 in Jardine Hall. Two months later they were married.

"She had caught my eye, and I did ask one of the members of the French department who she was," remembers Carl. "But it took awhile for me to make contact. At the time I was a young, confirmed bachelor."

Three years later they resigned from WSU to pursue graduate studies at Washington University.

As luck would have it, a few years later, while they were in Germany on Carl's Fulbright grant, positions opened up at WSU, first in the German department, then in the French department. So the Adamsons returned to Jardine Hall, where they'd met, in the early 1970s.

But in their time away, they had found another special place.

While looking for somewhere to do graduate studies abroad, the two decided the best place was the University of Strasbourg, located in the northeastern region of France, right on the German border.

"Every chance we could after that, we'd go back," Carl says.

And now they plan to make Strasbourg their permanent home. The couple has been splitting their time between the Alsatian city and Wichita since 1979, when they started a summer exchange program between WSU and the university where Louis Pasteur once taught and Albert Einstein studied. The Adamsons directed the program for 13 years. Ginette has continued to teach a seminar class there, while Carl has developed computer programs for the university.

While on phased retirement for the past five years, they've spent seven months a year in Strasbourg, keeping an apartment in the bustling, historic city year-round.

Both have a number of activities they plan to concentrate on in Strasbourg. Carl, who has had an interest in computer technology for the past 20 years, will be able to be more of a hands-on partner in the Paris-based Internet service and Web design company that he co-owns.

Ginette will continue her duties as a literary executor for the works of major French poet Pierre Emmanuel. One of her first projects when she moves to France is to proofread a volume of his works that will be published soon. She also plans to be involved in some cultural activities, organizing writers' visits and colloquiums in local bookstores.

While they consider meeting one another a highlight of their time at WSU, they also made significant contributions to their programs.

Ginette helped introduce a wide range of literature classes, including the Francophone literature of Quebec, the Carribean and Africa. She and Spanish faculty member Eunice Myers created an annual, international conference focusing on Latin-American and Francophone women writers, held from 1985 until 1995.

For contributions to the French language and culture outside France, Ginette was given France's highest honorary award for academics in November 2001.

When the enrollment in the German program started dropping off in the 1980s, Carl, who specializes in German literature, began putting his interest in computers to use for the department. He helped integrate computers into the language lab and has written programs that help with language acquisition. One such program allowed instructors of any language to create materials for their students to use on their own in the lab.

He's put that interest to use at the University of Strasbourg, as well, where he's written programs for the university's Institute for French Studies.

During their time at WSU, they have seen the faculty numbers shrink in their respective language departments, as enrollments in foreign language studies declined. Carl served as the last chair of the German department before all the language departments and offerings were merged under the current department of modern and classical languages and literatures. Ginette was the first chair of the MCCL department, serving seven years.

Before they officially retire, however, the two will do one more thing for WSU: The pair will act as marshals to officially open and close the commencement ceremony for the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences May 17.

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