University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
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July 19, 1999 Contact: Margaret McCarthy (312) 996-8279, firstname.lastname@example.org
INTERNATIONAL SCHOLAR, BEST-SELLING TRANSLATOR JOINS UIC
Christopher Maurer, professor of Spanish and authority on Spanish poetry, will be joining the University of Illinois at Chicago in January, announced Provost Elizabeth Hoffman today. Stanley Fish, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences, recruited Maurer to head UIC's Department of Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. The appointment is subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
"Maurer was the unanimous choice to lead the department," said Provost Hoffman. "He is an incredible scholar, who is known worldwide. The university is extremely pleased to have him join the administration and faculty."
Maurer, 49, joins UIC from Vanderbilt University, where he has been a professor of Spanish since 1990, serving as chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 1990 to 1997. Prior to Vanderbilt, Maurer was an assistant and then associate professor of Spanish at Harvard University since 1982.
"Professor Maurer combines extensive administrative skills with a publishing record any academic would envy," said Fish. "He is an agent of change."
Explaining his decision to accept Fish's offer, Maurer said, "There is a certain intellectual fervor at UIC. I found an impatience to improve, to do exciting things, to make the university better among the faculty and students alike. It is a propitious time for UIC."
"The feeling you get when you step on campus is 'welcome to reality.' UIC is a faithful reflection of the ethnic, racial and economic makeup of contemporary American life."
Maurer said his top priorities will be to make language instruction "as engaging as possible" and to develop and strengthen the graduate programs in literature, linguistics and teacher education.
Maurer's areas of expertise are Spanish poetry, textual criticism and translation. For Maurer, the role of the Hispanist - scholar of Spanish literature and culture - goes beyond classroom teaching and scholarly writing to include translation and writing for "as wide and as general an audience as possible" about Spanish and Latin American authors. His translation of the 17th-century Jesuit philosopher Baltasar Gracián''s The Art of Worldly Wisdom, was a national best seller and sold more than 150,000 copies.
In addition to Gracián, Maurer has devoted much of his scholarly time to the poet-playwright Federico García Lorca, whose works he has edited for Farrar, Straus and Giroux and New Directions. Recently, Maurer has developed a CD-ROM about Lorca and has written a book about "the elements of perfect work," based on the aphorisms of a perfectionistic poet, Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Maurer will teach one course his first semester on campus, titled Three Friends of Genius, on poet-playwright Garcia Lorca, Spanish film maker Luis Buñuel and painter Salvador Dalí and the interaction of poetry with other media. He plans to teach as much as his administrative work will allow.
Currently, Maurer and his wife María Estrella Iglesias are finishing a book about a family of potters, painters and writers in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Titled Dreaming in Clay on the Coast of Mississippi, it will be published by Random House next summer.
Fish has successfully recruited a number of top scholars to UIC since becoming dean in January. In addition to Maurer, he has hired Gerald Graff, nationally known English and education professor from the University of Chicago; and John D'Emilio, Guggenheim fellow, renowned historian, and pioneer in gay and lesbian studies.
"Fish is going full steam ahead, bringing about change in very little time," said Maurer. "His enthusiasm is infectious and makes you want to be part of UIC and its mission to serve its urban community."
With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area and home to the largest medical school in the United States. Located just west of the city's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area. Through its Great Cities initiative, UIC implements teaching, research and public service programs designed to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas.
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