Dr. Richard Gray- Department of Foreign Languages

Dr. Richard Gray, chair of the foreign languages department at AU.

Ashland.edu

Dr. Richard Gray, chair of the foreign languages department at AU.

Christine Jenkinson, NEWS EDITOR FOR THE COLLEGIAN

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Department Chair Spotlight

The Foreign Language department is different than other departments on campus. It does not just teach French, Spanish and Latin, or only explore the culture of other countries: it encompasses everything.

“[Our department] builds heart, it enheartens people. We give you the language to go out and explore the culture of other people…We do it the best, that’s what we provide our students and we love it,” said Dr. Richard Gray, Associate Professor of French and Chair of Foreign Languages.

Many students use the foreign language department to fulfill their CCI credit, but different majors and minors are often paired with foreign language.

“You can just major in foreign language, you can major in foreign language and another major,” Gray said. “We also minor in foreign language so you could do French and history, you could do French and philosophy, you could major in history and minor in foreign language…We have students who might major in more than one foreign language. We’ve had students who have done French and Spanish and then had an outside minor. We’ve had students who have had three majors, two of which have been in French and Spanish. There’s just so many possibilities here at AU.”

Gray has been at AU since 2013 and became chair last summer after teaching at Denison University.

“I answered a job ad and was fortunate enough to be able to come here,” Gray said.

Gray’s passion for teaching about other cultures stems from a simple question: At AU, we talk about the ‘Accent on You.’ How can we fully accent you if we don’t understand other people?

“I teach my students that you do not really fully understand yourself until you understand other people,” Gray said. “By looking at others, we look at ourself. We sort of complete a circuit by understanding other people and I think we really do that in this department and I think we do it well.”

There is a new word that is going around: adulting. Gray brought up that the generation before him did not prepare anyone for “adulting,” rather they worked hard and stayed inside their state’s borders, and the next generation followed suit.

“I think we need to also prepare the next generation for the possibility of going beyond our own state borders,” Gray said. “I always ask my students ‘have you been on a plane, have you gone beyond your state borders?’ Very often we find the answers to those questions is no. It’s okay to venture and explore the world. I want my students to go beyond their hometowns and things like that…I’ve had students from towns of a thousand and Ashland seems large to them. Yet, I want to take them to Paris, this metropolis, and that’s scary to them. It doesn’t even have to be Paris, it can be New York City.”

Gray encourages all of his students to have the courage to go out and “think about the richness and diversity” of different experiences, and the “wealth and beauty” that will come out of it.

Students who would like to learn more about the foreign language department can email Gray at [email protected]

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