Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures and Director of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
at University of Kansas
In the 1980s the UCLA Slavic Department was the best US graduate program in Slavic linguistics, which gave me the opportunity to study with leading scholars of Jakobsonian (and post-J) structuralism (Profs. Worth, Timberlake) and European philology (Prof. Birnbaum). A continuous stream of visiting luminaries enriched the intellectual environment, one of whom, Academician Pavle Ivić, turned out to have shaped my interest in language variation and word prosody, and who helped me, along with Berkeley Prof. Ronelle Alexander, to prepare for fieldwork in what was then Yugoslavia. Some of my most rewarding hours were spent between the Russian Room, where I practied conversational Russian with Nelya Dubrovich and Vladimir Skomorovsky, and the URL (in its pre-Internet meaning: the University Research Library). I also benefited by taking courses in the Linguistics Department and studying some non-Slavic languages, which has helped me in my both in my research and in my current administrative work in forming and directing the new School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kansas.