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Award-winning prof finally earns degree

2:17:57 PM CDT - Wednesday, May 03, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Elsie Shore, who was named Kansas Professor of the Year last fall, is finally earning her bachelor's degree.

One year short of retiring from WSU where she has taught since 1981, and about a dozen years after she started taking classes, Shore will finally earn her bachelor's degree in French.

Elsie Shore
File photo by David Dinell
Elsie Shore, who was named the Kansas Professor of the Year last fall, will participate in a May 12 commencement ceremony as an undergraduate student.
And while she's always been eligible to participate in WSU commencement ceremonies as part of the faculty, this year she'll be among the students walking across the stage.

Gerry Lichti, assistant dean in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has no doubts that Shore will garner some attention, dressed in her doctoral robes, as she mingles among the undergraduates during the May 12 LAS ceremony.

"When she marches, this will be wonderful," said Lichti. "She'll have intriguing conversations with students in the processional."

Having her among the graduating students will show "that learning is a lifelong process," as well, said Lichti.

Shore, who earned her first undergraduate degree in English literature in 1967 from Brooklyn College and her graduate degrees from the University of Nebraska, said she got interested in learning French again while on a trip to France in the early 1990s. She realized she recollected quite a bit of her high-school French.

"I also remembered the errors and I made them again as I did in high school," Shore said.
She decided to audit a class in French at WSU when she returned, but she missed getting feedback on assignments from the teacher.

After reading an article about someone who was earning more than one degree at WSU during retirement, she decided she might as well earn a sheepskin if she was making the effort to take classes for credit.

So for the past dozen years or so, until now, Shore has taken classes in French, as her schedule allowed. As the French faculty numbers dwindled, she sometimes had to wait for certain courses to open up.

"It wasn't like I was in a hurry," she said, about the time it's taken to finish her degree.

During that time, she's found several opportunities to practice her French. She became a regular at the weekly conversation hour hosted by the French program.

She developed friendships and a longstanding lunch date with a handful or so of similar-aged women who met during French classes and now continue to get together once a week at Wichita's Bagatelle eatery to speak only French.

She's traveled to France several times, and even spent the summer of 1995 at the University of Strasbourg in a study program.

She's led group activities during the French program's once-a-semester language immersion day for area middle- and high-school students and teachers of French.

She's even hosted lawn bowling, a game once favored by French high society, in her backyard.

"She's become a supporter of (French) activities," said Wilson Baldridge, an associate professor of French, who noted Shore often attends readings and theater performances hosted by the French program.

With Shore having earned a number of teaching awards and high praise from her own students, having her in his class always increased the level of the class' participation and his preparation, said Baldridge.

"It's wonderful to have a real intellectual who's responding as a thinker and a scholar," said Baldridge.

With her French degree complete, Shore, an advocate for lifelong learning, doesn't plan to stop taking classes. As she approaches her fifth and final year of phased retirement, she's considering what other classes she might take.

"I'd like to take a physics class. Maybe a linguistics class that would be interesting. Or even where I started, with a literature class," she contemplated aloud.

 



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