A historic moment in Canada-Romania academic relations took place at Glendon on March 25, when Principal McRoberts and the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Baconschi toasted the official launch of the first Romanian lectureship in Canada.
The Romanian lectureship was created with the July 12, 2010 signing of a collaboration agreement between Glendon and the Institute of Romanian Language, of the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research located in Bucharest. Negotiations leading to the agreement were begun in 2008 by the Consul-general of Romania in Toronto, Dr. Valentin Naumescu. In his search for the right location, Dr. Naumescu contacted Professor Dorin Uritescu of Glendon’s Department of French Studies, and Professor Françoise Mougeon, Glendon’s Associate Principal Academic and Research, who steered the project through to a successful start-up.
Left: L-r: Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Baconschi and Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts toast the agreement
There were several representatives of the Romanian government at this important launch, in addition to Foreign Affairs Minister Baconschi. Among these, the Romanian Ambassador to Canada, Elena Stefoi; Vice-consul of the Consulate General of Romania in Toronto, Dr. Doru Liciu; and Adrian Papahagi, Advisor to Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The first holder of the lectureship is Professor Ioana-Cristina Pîrvu, who holds a PhD in Linguistics and comes to Glendon from the Romanian Language Department of the University of Bucharest. Currently, Dr. Pîrvu is teaching two 2000-level courses as part of the Program of Linguistics and Language Studies in Glendon’s Multidisciplinary Studies Department - Romanian Language: A Linguistic Introduction, and Romanian Culture from a Semiotic Perspective. These courses are open to all interested York students, and for Glendon students may count towards a degree in linguistics; the second of the two is a general education (humanities) course as well. Both courses are taught in English and welcome both Romanian-Canadian and non-Romanian students.
L-r - front row: Professor Jerzy Kowal, Chair of the Glendon Hispanic Studies Department; Glendon Professor of Linguistics and Language Studies Dorin Uritescu; York Professor of Film Studies Tereza Barta; Associate Principal, Academic and Research Françoise Mougeon; visiting Professor Ioana-Cristina Pîrvu of the University of Bucharest; Glendon Professor of Linguistics and Language Studies Ian Martin ; back row: York Information Technology Professor Radu Campeanu; Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts; Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi; Romanian Ambassador to Canada Elena Stefoi; Adrian Papahagi, Cabinet Advisor to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
These courses have first been taught in the winter term of 2011, but they will become full-year courses in 2011-2012. Professor Pîrvu’s term runs for three years, with a possibility of renewal.
Pîrvu has already taught the courses she is presenting at Glendon in Zagreb, Croatia to students from first year all the way to Master’s level. “I am eager to promote the culture and language of my country and its significance in Europe and the world”, said Dr. Pîrvu. “My teaching interests extend beyond language learning to geography, history, literature, music, the cinema and sports. There is so much that can be done.” Pîrvu has praised Toronto’s Romanian community for their warm welcome, helpfulness and inclusion to newcomers like herself.
Right: L-r: Professor Dorin Uritescu, Principal Kenneth McRoberts, York Professor of Information Technology Radu Campeanu and Romanian Ambassador to Canada Elena Stefoi
Professor Uritescu pointed to the integrated, multicultural aspect of Glendon. “Some of our programs have already incorporated these features, such as the Master’s in French Studies and the PhD in Francophone Studies. Since both of these programs are focused on Romance languages – as is Romanian – we hope to integrate Romanian linguistics into our ongoing curriculum in the future, which will provide enrichment and additional choices for our students. As this is the first Romanian university program in Canada, we hope that in the future Glendon will become a centre which attracts students interested in pursuing in-depth studies in fields such as Romance and Balkan linguistics.”
There are several reasons for the lectureship to have found a home at Glendon. Romanian is the fifth major language of the Italic language family taught at Glendon – where courses in French, Spanish, Catalan and Latin already exist, continuing the Linguistics Program’s long-term objective of offering courses in all the major Romance languages. Romania is also a member of the Francophonie. In addition, important growth potential for the lectureship can be found among first- and second-generation Romanian-speaking students, who are an increasing presence at Glendon and York, since the Romanian-speaking community in the GTA is estimated at around 70,000. It is the firm belief of this sizeable group, as well as of the Romanian government and Glendon, that the creation of the Romanian lectureship represents a long-awaited, significant opportunity to promote the language, culture and image of Romania in Canada.
Left: Visiting Professor Ioana-Cristina Pîrvu
“This is a historic moment for Glendon”, said Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts in his words of welcome. “We are deeply honoured to welcome such a large delegation of important dignitaries from Romania. The new courses are an excellent fit with our language programs, which already include several Romance languages both in our course offerings and among our student population. There is an obvious interest [in the Romanian courses] and Professor Pîrvu’s contribution is very significant in motivating students. We hope to continue the program for many years to come.”
“We are honoured to be part of this project and to meet these distinguished representatives of Glendon’s faculty”, said Minister Baconschi. “We hope that this added presence of Romanian language and culture will strengthen the links between our two societies, which have many commonalities, as well as a long history of immigration and participation in the Francophonie.”
Glendon Professor of Linguistics Ian Martin quoted former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who had said that countries should have friends of the same size. “In that context, Canada and Romania are natural friends. Glendon and all of York extend a warm welcome to Professor Pîrvu. Bine aţi venit la Glendon!”
For more information on the courses for the Romanian lectureship, please contact Glendon’s Linguistics and Language Studies Program.
Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny