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Timothy Tomasik, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, has been named to the Richard P. Baepler Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities at Valparaiso University. The four-year professorship is a rotating appointment honoring outstanding teachers and aimed at advancing interdisciplinary and integrative study of the humanities in accord with Valparaiso University’s mission. The Baepler Professor promotes interdisciplinary teaching, course development, and scholarship at the University through leadership of the Wente Faculty Seminar.

“I am very pleased to offer this honor to Professor Tomasik. Among several outstanding applications, Tim’s proposal stood out as both engaging and transformative,” said Provost Mark Schwehn. “His innovative ideas will help to reinforce Valparaiso University’s commitment to growth and to excellence.”

The proposal is titled “The Digital Renaissance: Visual Culture, Media Aesthetics, and the Humanities in the 21st Century” and seeks to address the growing emergence of Internet media and technologies and their importance to education.

Tomasik joined Valpo in 2005 after receiving his PhD in romance languages and literatures from Harvard University. He currently teaches in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, where he offers coursework ranging from intermediate French to advanced seminars on French literature and culture. The Indiana chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French named Tomasik French Teacher of the Year in 2007.

In terms of scholarship, Tomasik’s past work has focused on Renaissance French literature and culinary history, two fields in which he has published a number of articles and translations. Given that his more recent research and teaching has shifted to modern French cinema, Tomasik plans to focus the aims of the Baepler Professorship on visual culture, media aesthetics, and how these emerging fields represent new avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration within the humanities.

“By focusing on concepts in visual studies that transcend our disciplinary boundaries, we can better understand as a faculty how much we truly have in common,” wrote Tomasik in his proposal. “Furthermore, if we embrace rather than reject what new media and new technologies offer us, we can build bridges not just between disciplines, but also between faculty and students.”

The Richard P. Baepler Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities is endowed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a gift from Dr. Walter H. and Pauline Scaer Wente. It honors the informed vision, academic leadership, and Christian service of Dr. Richard P. Baepler at Valparaiso University from 1954 until his retirement in 1999.

The Wente Faculty Seminar, led by the Baepler Professor, is an intensive seminar for a small group of faculty. Through extensive readings, discussion, and professional development, these faculty have the opportunity to enhance their own teaching and scholarly efforts.