The Modern Language Association, the world's foremost association for the study of modern languages and literature, announced the appointment of UB professor Rosemary Feal to the position of executive director of the organization at its annual convention last December.
After an extended nationwide search, the MLA's search committee chose to nominate Feal to succeed retiring MLA Executive Director Phyllis Franklin. Feal will take a leave of absence this summer from her current position as chair of the department of modern languages and literatures and professor of Spanish at UB.
"Feal brings a long association with the MLA, a commanding knowledge of modern languages and literatures, and significant experience as an engaged graduate student, a professor, and an administrator to the position," stated Sylvia Molloy, MLA president and chair of the search committee. "She is highly qualified to continue the tradition of strong leadership that has proved so important to the association."
The MLA's Executive Council began the search for a new director in January 2001. The search committee solicited nominations from the MLA membership, reviewed over 50 applications, and conducted two rounds of intensive interviews. The full council then met with a short list of candidates in the fall.
According to Charles Stinger, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Feal's appointment is unprecedented at UB.
"I don't recall another person in the humanities being asked to serve such a prominent position," said Stinger. "This is an outstanding opportunity for professor Feal and an extraordinary recognition for UB."
Feal said she is extremely excited by the opportunity, but will be sad to leave her current position.
"This is an incredible opportunity," said Feal. "But I'll miss teaching, I'll miss the day-to-day workings of the university."
The MLA is one of the most well-known and well-respected scholarly organizations in the world. Founded in 1883, and currently boasting over 30,000 members, its purpose is to further the study and teaching of language and literature. Members share scholarly findings and teaching experiences, participate in an annual convention and other meetings, work with related organizations, and sustain one of the most distinguished publishing programs in the humanities.
The MLA publishes the MLA stylebook, which outlines a specific writing and citation style to adhere to for scholarly research, and is widely used at universities worldwide.
Feal's involvement with the MLA began in 1988, when she was appointed to the Delegate Assembly. Later, she was elected to the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee and to the Nominating Committee and appointed to the Ad Hoc Committee and the PMLA Advisory Committee. Most recently, she served as chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession.
Feal also boasts an impressive scholarly record. She currently serves as senior consulting editor of Latin American Literary Review and is an associate editor of Afro-Hispanic Review. She also serves on the editorial boards of Latino Cultural Studies, New Centennial Review, and Letras Femeninas. She co-edits the State University of New York Press Series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture. Feal has also published widely in Latin American literature, including two books, Novel Lives: The Fictional Autobiographies of Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Mario Vargas Llosa and Painting on the Page: Interartistic Approaches to Modern Hispanic Texts, which was coauthored by Carlos Feal, another professor of Spanish at UB.
"She is an outstanding academic leader," said Stinger. "She continues to be an example for women in the profession and new voices in these disciplines."