Letter from the Chair

“I am excited,” “I am inspired,” “I can’t wait!” That is what faculty wrote when we asked them about the new academic year. Hitting a similar note, our graduate students also found excitement and energy in their work. The faculty’s and students’ words make clear why the department works together so well. We are united in an intellectual community with shared goals of learning about the Nordic and Baltic countries' culture and history, and we want to share our knowledge with others.

One of the most exciting part of the coming year is the arrival of three new colleagues, assistant professor Amanda Doxtater, Finnish lecturer Hanna-Ilona Härmävaara, and Latvian lecturer Aiga Veckalne. Amanda is professor of Swedish. She will be researching and teaching film history, literature, and translation. Lecturers Härmävaara and Veckalne will be teaching Finnish and Latvian, as well as other courses about FInland and Latvia. The lectureships are made possible by generous support from the FInnish and Latvian governments, for which we are thankful. And our Swedish program is supported by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Chair in Swedish Studies. Välkommen! Terveuloa! Laipni lūdzam!

The next year marks some important centennials, which we look forward to celebrating. Finland celebrates her centennial of independence in 2017, and Estonia, Latvia, and LIthuania celebrate their centennial of independence in 2018. In our celebrations, we seek to emulate the spirit of a centennial birthday gift, which has been widely reported. Norway is considering giving Finland a mountain, or the peak of Halti, which straddles the border of Norway and FInland. So, too, we wish to honor and celebrate the relationships of our countries, and move the borders if necessary to come together. Our first celebration of these centennial events will be a lecture by Finnish historian Professor Jason Lavery, beginning at 6PM on Thursday 26 October. 

One of the bittersweet aspects of looking to the new academic year is the retirement last year of beloved colleagues and friends, Professor Lotta Gavel Adams and Professor Terje Leiren. Lotta and Terje spent decades firing the minds of their students, colleagues, and the community. While Terje and Lotta will continue to do some part-time teaching, they are moving on to a new phase in their lives. While it is sad to see them go, their new projects and travels kindle our interest. Lotta and Terje will bring the energy, intelligence, and good humor to their activities that they always have, and we look forward to learning from them and continuing to work with them in new ways.  

With all the positive energy of last year and excitement about the year to come, it is pleasure to wish our alumni, advisory board, and supporters well, and to invite you to join us in the activities of the department during 2017-18.  I have been inspired and excited by what our department members have written for the newsletter. It is a pleasure to share their words and thoughts with you!

All the best,

Andy Nestingen

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