The University, the College of Arts and Sciences, our administrative team, our dedicated faculty, and our amazing staff deserve our recognition and appreciation for all the time and effort they have invested in making these changes possible in such a limited time. We are all learning to adapt to this unprecedented situation, but we look to the future with the hope that this difficult time will pass and we will become wiser and stronger. While we wait for that time to come, we encourage you to stay informed and to follow the CDC guidelines and the university recommendations.
Not only are we facing challenges because of the global pandemic; we are also experiencing an unprecedented time in American history. Our department is committed to diversity and inclusion, as well as to maintaining an environment that fosters an interdisciplinary and multi-ethnic community. By embracing these values, we develop an environment of tolerance and understanding of cultural differences for our students, faculty, and staff. In challenging times like this one, we need to remember that article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, states "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." We consider education an instrument that provides opportunities for racial justice and social acceptance. As we write in our departmental statement of inclusiveness, we "are committed to diversity and non-discrimination, and to maintaining an environment of inclusiveness and respect. We also promote the inclusion of varied opinions in our classrooms and interactions with one another, and the use of civil discourse to achieve these goals." Now more than ever, we need to be committed to diversity and open a positive dialogue among our students, faculty, and staff. To this end, the department developed a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2019-2020, which aims to foster communication and a positive environment for everyone in our department.
The department hosted the Brazilian Literary Spring in coordination with Associate Professor Luciana Namorato. This was the second Brazilian Literary Spring panel to be hosted at IU. Guests Débora Thomé, Martha Batalha and Adjunct Professor Leonardo Tonus participated in events on Brazilian writing, art, and politics. This year's theme was "impossible, possible dialogues." Guest speakers were impressed with the academic life of our department, and the incisive questions of our students. In addition, the departmental graduate student association, GSAC, organized the annual Diálogos conference. The conference, now in its 17th year, included a diversity of topics such as Latin American Visual cultures, Pragmatics, Second Language Acquisition, and Transatlantic Lusophone Writing: Women in the 19th Century, as well as keynote lectures from Dr. John Lipski, Dr. Victoria Saramago, and Dr. Ryan Szpiech, representing our programs in Linguistics, Literature and Culture, and Portuguese.
Several of our faculty have been recognized for their outstanding work. Professor Deborah Cohn received the Provost Professor Award from the Office of the Provost. Professor Kimberly Geeslin (2020) received the Trustees' Teaching Award for Faculty, and both Sandra Ortiz (2019) and Israel Herrera (2020) received the Trustees' Teaching Award for NTT Faculty. You can read about the accomplishments of these and other colleagues in the Faculty News section of the newsletter. I am also happy to announce that our stellar, dedicated staff members Jennifer Howard and Tracy Sheets are respectively celebrating 10 and 25 years at Indiana University! We are very grateful to have both of them with us. We hope to celebrate these milestones with them when normalcy resumes.
Our students continue to grow and stand out among their peers: 23 Spanish majors were inducted into our local chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the only national honor society devoted exclusively to students of Spanish in four-year colleges and universities; and 13 of our majors were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious of all national honors societies in the US. One of our majors, Jasmine Vann, was selected as part of the IUB Student Advisory Council in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Several majors were also awarded other prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and prizes from the College of Arts & Sciences, from Indiana University Bloomington, and from the Fulbright program, including Megan Diekhoff and Jaclyn Flores.
Graduate students in the Department were recognized with a considerable number of fellowships and grants this year. Among them, Ollin García Pliego, Tom Goebel-Mahrle and Stacey Hanson won the J.M. Hill Award for Outstanding Graduate Paper; Derek Allen won the CLACS Martins-Sadlier Award for Best Paper in Brazilian Studies; Daniel Jung and Justin Knight won the Future Faculty Teaching Fellowship Program at Butler University; Guillermo López Prieto received the President's Diversity Dissertation Fellowship; Kane Ferguson received a Latino Studies Dissertation Fellowship; Kaitlin Guidarelli and Aline Araujo won the Spring College Graduate Student Travel Award; Mónica Vega González won the Doctoral Student Award for Academic Achievement; Damián Solano Escolano won the Merle E. Simmons Research Fellowship; and Molly Cole and Derek Allen received FLAS Fellowships. We would also like to congratulate the recipients of the 2019-2020 Summer Research Fellowships: Nick Blaker, Andreina Colina, Mackenzie Coulter-Kern, Jingyi Guo, Jessica Jacques, Gabriela Kolman, Anna Lurito, José Luis Suárez Morales, Nilzimar Vieira, and Tingting Zhang. Finally, we are very proud of the seven doctoral students who successfully defended their dissertations during the academic year: Carly Henderson, Sean McKinnon, Ángel Milla Muñoz, Christie Cole, Olivia Holloway, Ellen Robinson, and Danielle Daidone. Several of the graduating doctoral students and other recent doctoral graduates have accepted tenure-track positions at other universities where they will move on to the next phase of their careers. We wish all of them happiness and success.
I must also share some sad news with you. Our emeritus colleague, Professor Luis Beltrán, passed away on December 31, 2019, in Seattle. A distinguished medievalist, comparatist, novelist, and poet, Professor Beltrán taught at Indiana University for his entire career, from 1965 to 1996. During his time at IU, he served as both Director of Graduate Studies and as Chair of Spanish and Portuguese, and he was a founding member of the Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures. We send our condolences to his daughters, Ana Beltrán and Patricia Beltrán, his sister, Valentina Beltrán Fernández de los Ríos, his former wife, Ann Bristow, and his three grandchildren.
This year, you will have the opportunity to virtually attend some of the events our department will host. We hope to welcome you back to Bloomington in person sometime soon. For now, you can visit the "News and Events" page of the Department's website to find the activities we have planned for 2020-21. Unfortunately, this will be the first year since the founding of the MESDA lecture that it will not take place due to the global pandemic, but we look forward to resuming our normal plan of events as soon as possible.
We would not be able to do many of the things that we normally do without the support of our friends and alumni. We are forever grateful to those who have committed themselves to supporting the excellence of our department by contributing intellectually, personally, and financially. We hope to continue to count on your generosity.