French program searches for professor

MEGAN DEGONIA/ The Journal Jane Robert, Webster University 1969 alumna, and her husband, Bruce Robert, announced on Dec. 14 their one million dollar donation to begin the Jane and Bruce Robert Professorship in French and Francophone Studies.

On Dec. 14, Jane Robert and her husband Bruce announced their donation of $1 million to establish a French professorship. The professorship will add another full-time French professor to Webster University’s French Program. Currently, Emily Thompson is the only full-time professor.
David Carl Wilson, dean of the college of arts and sciences, said a search committee for the French professorship position will be established.  The committee will select the French professorship position by Fall 2012, according to Wilson.
Specific characteristics for the new professor are unknown at the moment,  Thompson said, as each candidate will bring different specialties and expertise.
Jane Robert, a 1969 alum, expressed the importance of learning outside the classroom in her announcement speech, and hopes the new professor will connect students with other St. Louis French organizations.
Wilson said Thompson is an obvious choice for the committee and her input will be very valued. Although he does not yet know who will head the committee, Wilson said the head of the committee will most likely be someone within interdisciplinary studies such as human or women’s rights.
“Robert will most likely not sit on the committee, but may help in terms of recruitment,” Wilson said. “Typically, the person makes a donation and lets the university take care of the rest. I think candidates will find Jane a compelling draw. She’s extremely intelligent and very passionate. She knows anybody who’s anybody.”
Erin Hennessey, junior French and art history double major believes the professorship will bring more opportunities for French students.
Hennessey said she feels another full-time professorship will make the French department more permanent and stable. Another full-time professor would increase the availability times for advising.
“Because a full-time professor is likely to stay, it changes the feeling of the department,” Hennessey said.

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