Dr. Susan Fitch Spillman began teaching at Xavier in 1992. Recently named the William Arceneaux Endowed Professor of French, she holds a doctorate in French, with a concentration in medieval studies, from Tulane University. Since coming to Xavier, she has developed an interest in instructional technology, producing programs in HyperCard and PowerPoint for teaching both language and literature. Selected as one of the original Kellogg Fellows, she received training in these applications and began to incorporate music and video clips into her work. As technologies have become more complex and more readily available, she has incorporated the Internet in her classes, both as a resource for student research and for in-class presentations. She is currently involved in completing the assessment phase of Vive la Louisiane, un état pas comme tous les autres
, a rich media project developed in Director. Incorporating 78 video clips as well as still photos and interactive exercises, the program is designed to emphasize the importance of Louisiana as an integral part of the international Francophone community and at the same time to give users practice in understanding and using French.
During her tenure at Xavier University of Louisiana, she has served as both president and vice-president of the Academic Advisory Board of the Council of the Development of French in Louisiana. In May and June, 2001, Dr. Spillman accompanied the first group of Xavier Crossing Borders participants to Yaoundé, Cameroon, for a month of study and travel. She is a very enthusiastic advocate of study abroad for students of every major, and welcomes visits from students who want to discuss how studying in another country enhances both professional preparation and general culture.
Among her goals for the Department of Languages are developing honors sections of first and second year French and Spanish courses so that students who participate will graduate with honors in their language of choice. She is working to develop grant proposals for funding of summer language immersion programs at Xavier. She has also begun work on the development of a comprehensive proposal for the construction of a language learning center, a state-of-the-art facility incorporating both individual and group teaching configurations as well as production and cinema viewing facilities.
How does she feel about teaching? In reflecting upon her recent Department of Languages Teacher of the Year, 2005 Award, she notes that several years ago, the Academy Awards ceremony featured a lifetime achievement award to Akira Kurosawa, honored at age 87 for his years of artistry. When he accepted his Oscar, he said, "I feel that I have just now begun to learn a bit about how to make films." Dr. Spillman looks forward to eventually feeling that she has finally learned how to teach, if she can continue to be productive until age 87. She is thankful for her long and joyful period of apprenticeship.