Alvar Walks Tall In Classroom, in Scholarship, and in International Esteem

Manuel Alvar

Teaching with quiet dedication within the halls of the University happens to be the world's foremost authority on Spanish languages — a fact made prominent earlier this month when he was called to Spain at the direct request of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I.

Manuel Alvar, distinguished professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, recently attended the annual Columbus Day inauguration of the Royal Academy of Spanish Languages in Madrid, Spain. Alvar, who was voted as President of the Royal Academy for life in 1988, is acknowledged as the world's leading expert on Spanish linguistics as well as one of the world's leading scholars in the fields of Hispanic literature and linguistics.

"There is simply no better research scholar than Manuel Alvar in his field throughout the United States and Spain," emphasizes Alberto Carlos, professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. "His publication record is enormous and of such high quality — and it is so recognized by his colleagues. He has lectured all over the world."

The Royal Academy of Language was founded in 1713 in Madrid and is composed of 36 distinguished scholars and writers whose primary goal is to set and maintain high standards for the Spanish language as well as determine new words for the academy's dictionary - upon which all Spanish, Hispanic, and Latin American languages are based.

"Once you become a member of the Royal Academy - you are a member for life," explains Ava Eccleston, secretary for the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. "It is a great honor for Dr. Alvar."

While in Spain, Alvar also traveled to AlCaLa de Henares to attend the annual conference of the Instituto Cervantes, of which he is a patron on the 24-member board and which King Juan Carlos I presides over annually. The Instituto Cervantes, which is named after the author of Don Quixote and holds its conference at Cervantes' birthplace, is responsible for the teaching and dissemination of Spanish, Hispanic, and Latin American languages throughout the world.

Alvar, who has been a member of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies since 1977, received the title of distinguished professor in 1991. He has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates and in 1993 won Spain's prestigious "National Menendez Pidal Prize", presented by King Juan Carlos I once every three years for the scholar who has done the most outstanding work in the humanities or social sciences.

Carlos said that Alvar has, "in spite of his numerous distinctions and honors, remained very approachable and dedicated — both to his students as teacher and to his colleagues as faculty member. He is respected throughout the University community just as he is revered by the entire Hispanic community."

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