Prof. Emily Spinelli retires after 32 years

November 6, 2007

Spinelli

DEARBORN / Nov. 6, 2007---Emily Spinelli, professor of Spanish and former chair of the Department of Humanities at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, was named professor emerita of Spanish by the U-M Regents at their October meeting. Spinelli, who joined the UM-Dearborn faculty in 1975, retired from active faculty status at the end of August.

“Professor Spinelli taught courses at all levels of Spanish language, literature, culture and civilization, as well as foreign language methodology,” the Regents noted in their memo regarding Spinelli’s emerita appointment.

In addition to serving as department chair from 1992 to 1998, Spinelli also served as coordinator of the campus’s Spanish program and the International Studies Program, and chaired numerous campus task forces and committees.

On the national level, Spinelli was president of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

She was the author of several Spanish textbooks, and served six years as editor of the Foreign Language Annals, the official journal of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Under Spinelli’s leadership, the publication went from one of the least cited to the most cited journal in the field of foreign language teaching and learning. She received numerous honors and awards including the Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education.

Regarding her term as editor, Spinelli said she worked to keep the focus on teachers on the front lines of foreign language instruction. “I do not believe in research for the sake of research,” she said. “It should have some sort of implication for all of us in the classroom.”

Spinelli received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Ohio State University. She taught at a high school, at Macomb County and Henry Ford community colleges and Wayne State University before joining the UM-Dearborn faculty as adjunct lecturer in 1975. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1982, to associate professor with tenure in 1988 and to professor in 1992.

Although now retired from the classroom, Spinelli continues to be active in promoting effective teaching of foreign languages as the executive director of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

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