In Memory of Professor Kimberly L. Geeslin
Professor Kimberly L. Geeslin (1971-2023) was a once-in-a-lifetime friend, mentor, and colleague. She was born May 13, 1971, in Stanford, California, the eldest child of William and Eileen Brown Geeslin, and grew up in New Hampshire. Professor Geeslin was a graduate of Oyster River High School in Durham, New Hampshire; University of New Hampshire (B.A.); and University of Arizona (M.A. and Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics). Kim joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University in the Fall of 1999. In the department, she has served as the Director of the Hispanic Linguistics program, Associate Chair, and Interim Chair. She was also an adjunct faculty member in the Departments of Second Language Studies and Cognitive Science. A brilliant scholar, administrator and educator, she was also an indefatigable force for kindness, compassion, and collaboration; in every interaction with Professor Geeslin (Kim) you felt seen, valued, heard, and that you had made a connection with someone who genuinely cared and was working tirelessly to make the world a better place.
Professor Geeslin was exceptional in both her scholarly and administrative pursuits. She was an exemplary and internationally recognized scholar at the top of her field. She is author and editor of nine books and over 85 article-length publications. Her articles appeared in top-tier journals such as Studies in Second Language Acquisition; Journal of Applied Linguistics, International Journal of Applied Linguistics; Language Learning, Linguistics: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences; Revista Española de la Lingüística Aplicada, Spanish in Context, Language Learning; Bilingualism: Language and Cognition; and Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, among others. Professor Geeslin’s many books include The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Sociolinguistics (Routledge, 2022), The Second Language Acquisition of Spanish (with Avizia Long and Megan Solon, Routledge, 2021); The Cambridge Handbook of Spanish Linguistics (Cambridge, 2018); Lengua en contexto: Introducción y aplicación de la lingüística hispánica (with Manuel Diaz-Campos and Laura Gurzynski-Weiss, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018); Sociolinguistics and Second Language Acquisition: Learning to use language in context (with Avizia Long, Routledge, 2014); The Handbook of Spanish Second Language Acquisition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014); Selected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (Cascadilla Press, 2012); Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries to Improve the Analysis of Second Language Data: A study of copula choice with adjectives in Spanish (LINCOM, 2005); and Structure, Meaning and Acquisition in Spanish: Selected papers from the 4th Hispanic Linguistic Symposium (with James Lee and Clancy Clements, Cascadilla Press, 2002). She also was the editor for a special volume of Bilingualism: Language and Cognition entitled Language Acquisition, Language variation and Copula Choice in Spanish (2008). Her impactful scholarly production has also been adopted to teach both graduate and undergraduate classes throughout the U.S. and internationally, helping to shape future generations of linguists.
Having recently stepped into the role as Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Professor Geeslin’s title reflected what she had tirelessly worked on for decades: supporting faculty colleagues on campus, most especially those frequently overlooked and under-supported. She was particularly dedicated to ensuring that minoritized colleagues and women faculty had more equitable paths to leadership, and she advocated to ensure that all faculty were included, regardless of track. Before her role as Vice Provost, Professor Geeslin served as an Associate Vice Provost and worked as a campus liaison for the Departmental Executive Officers Program. In her role as Associate Vice Provost, she made a huge difference for many colleagues on campus. Her advocacy and guidance was essential and transformed lives for the better at the University level. She was also the Director of the Initiative for the Advancement of Women Faculty, where she coordinated the Women in Leadership series and worked on initiatives to support mid-career faculty.
Professor Geeslin was also a distinguished educator. An exceptional instructor and mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, she was recognized with many awards, including the Trustee’s Teaching Award (2001-2002, 2007-2008, 2011-2012), the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Student Advisory Committee Outstanding Mentor Award (2006, 2012), the David and Cheryl Morley Career Distinguished Teaching Award (2019), and, most recently, the Carol Hostetter Lifetime Teaching Career Award (awarded by FACET in 2022). Professor Geeslin was a stellar mentor who was loved and respected. With her students, she was generous, open-hearted, and understanding. As an intellectual and colleague, she was bright, outstanding, and always seeking transformational scholarship. She always made the time to provide well-crafted and original ideas for her mentees. She was rigorous, but also supportive and willing to help each person who reached out for guidance.
On a personal level, Kim was the person you called when you had a seemingly unsolvable problem and didn’t know where to start; she knew how to approach any issue and resolve each conflict with grace and an incomparable skill for having every person involved feel better afterwards. She was the person you called when you had good news to celebrate or a ridiculous story to share. She joined you in your celebration and always had kind words to encourage you. Each interaction with Kim was a masterclass on how to be human- she validated your experience, asked about your life, and was genuinely excited to brainstorm how to make something better. She showed up fully in all arenas of life – cheering on her kiddos at violin, track and field, dances, hockey games – spent summer vacations on group trips with family – built homes each year for Habitat for Humanity – ran regularly and was dedicated to health. She gave love unconditionally to family, friends, and colleagues. Whatever Kim was involved in, you knew her engagement would be exceptional, and more than that, you knew everyone involved would be a better person from having had the opportunity to work with and learn from her. Her dedication and passion for everything she did was exemplary. Kim was also real; she showed her strength in vulnerability by sharing struggles she had overcome, and she had an amazing sense of humor and extreme patience for the number of GIFs we sent her way.
It is impossible to put into words how much Kim meant to us personally and professionally in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She was the heartbeat of the Department, the voice of reason, a human peace treaty, and the friend you know would always show up for you. She was the voice in our head, and often the reason why we kept going when academic bureaucracy made things seem impossible – you knew better things were coming with her in charge.
While it is inconceivable to think of this world without Kim in it, we will honor her life and legacy by striving to make others feel the way she made us feel- seen, heard, inspired, and actively supported. Kim, your kindness and your impact will live on in all those who had the privilege to know you. You are forever loved and part of this family.