October 2, 2000
UC Davis scholar named founding director of systemwide language consortium
Robert J. Blake, a professor of Spanish and classics at UC Davis and an internationally
renowned scholar in second language acquisition, has been appointed the founding
director of the newly-established UC Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching.
"Professor Blake has an impressive teaching and research record as well as extensive
administrative experience," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "He
is well versed in the use of technology to enhance language learning, and I am confident
he will do an outstanding job of handling the challenges and opportunities the consortium
According to organizers, the impetus for the creation of the systemwide Consortium
for Language Learning and Teaching was the need to make the most effective use of
UC's vast language teaching resources at a time when there is a dramatic increase
in enrollments in foreign language courses and the demand for new areas of language
instruction. Currently, the University of California offers its students the opportunity
to study 78 languages.
The hope is that by fostering communication and collaboration among and across the
language programs at the UC campuses through the new consortium, these resources
can be more widely available to students and faculty.
"This initiative comes at a time when our students increasingly need an expanded
knowledge of the world's diverse languages and cultures. A UC student can no longer
afford to be monolingual in today's internationalized economy," Blake said.
"I am extremely pleased to help coordinate the enormous strengths of the language
faculty across the UC campuses in a way that will make our system a national model
for language delivery.
"This will require seeking a balance between the heavily enrolled languages
such as Spanish and the other less commonly taught languages. The consortium seeks
to provide our students with an increased access to language study through a combination
of the best classroom practices, distance learning, and EAP programs. The consortium
will promote language study as a vital need for every UC student."
Julius Zelmanowitz, vice provost for academic initiatives for the UC system, said,
"What is particularly notable is that the consortium results from a grass roots
effort by faculty across the UC system, supported by the academic leadership of the
campuses. The system as a whole owes a debt of gratitude to some forward-thinking
faculty who saw the potential for using the power of the system to great benefit."
Blake received his doctorate in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Texas
in Austin in 1980. He began his academic career at Dartmouth College where he spent
five years, followed by seven years at the University of Rochester where he held
the Mercer Brugler Chair for Innovations in Teaching.
In 1992, UC Davis recruited Blake, who served most recently as department chair and
director of the campus's Second Language Acquisition Institute.
The systemwide Consortium on Language Learning and Teaching will be housed on the
Return to Front Page