Professor to share love of Spain with 3D audience

Feb. 21, 2014

Dr. Amanda PlumleeDr. Amanda Plumlee, coordinator of the college’s Latin American Studies and Modern Languages program, has enthusiastically led student tours of Spain since she joined the faculty in 1996.

She will be sharing her love of all things Spanish during Monday’s 3D Journeys lecture at 10 a.m. in Dickson Assembly Room of Turner Hall. Spain is the focus of this year’s 3D Journeys program, the college’s popular travel/lecture series.

Dr. Plumlee, who developed the college’s Latin American Studies department, will highlight Spanish culture – the literature, architecture, food, dance, customs,  people and, yes, even the dogs of Spain.

“Basically I decided to talk about why I love Spain,” she said. “I hope to instill an interest in Spain that will make people want to learn more.”

A self-described “lifelong learner,” Dr. Plumlee said she welcomes the 3D Journeys opportunity because she’s always looking for new experiences.

“It lets me grow,” she said. “It pushes me.”

It was that love of new experiences that brought Dr. Plumlee to LaGrange.

A Tennessee native and  “proud product” of the University System of Tennessee,  Dr. Plumlee earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish  from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1978, minoring in early childhood education and planning a career as a preschool teacher. 

“Spanish was my hobby,” she said, laughing.

Her love of language and literature, however, pulled her into higher education.  She earned a master’s degree in Hispanic literature from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in  1980, then, eight years later, a Ph.D. in Latin American Literature, also at Knoxville.  Along the way, she won a Fulbright grant to study in Ecuador and served as graduate assistant in the newly created Women’s  Studies Program at Tennessee.

She spent her first decade as a professor at Davis & Elkins, a Presbyterian-related college in scenic West Virginia, advancing to chair the foreign language department and serving as faculty president before being named assistant dean.

Then a colleague mentioned that a small, liberal arts college down in Georgia was looking for someone to start a Latin American Studies program.  She recalls his exact words: “It would be perfect for you, Amanda.”

 LaGrange College officials apparently agreed, and Dr. Plumlee, impressed by “visionary leaders” she met during the interview process, accepted the job and the chance to launch a new program.

“I like starting programs. I like the excitement of launching something new and seeing it take shape,” she said.
Most of all, she said, she liked the town of LaGrange and the size and focus of the college.

“Teaching has always been my passion,” she said. “I like the liberal arts tradition because I like to get out of the box.  I get to teach a variety of things, not just Spanish, and I get to know my students. That’s the best part of teaching in a small institution.”

Among the “variety of things” she teaches are literature courses,  a conversational English class for Korean women and courses for the college’s Women’s Studies minor,  another “new thing” she helped launch on the Hill.

Dr. Plumlee believes a small college should connect with its broader community, and sees the 3D program as an ideal way to link with other “lifelong learners” in LaGrange.

“It’s a great community outreach. It’s a role the college should play.”

She does her own share of community work, periodically teaching Spanish in various community settings, and being active at Advent Lutheran Church, where she has been president of the church council and fulfills her early career goal by teaching preschoolers in Sunday school. 

She likes her church so much she continues to come to LaGrange on Sundays even though she and her husband moved to Moreland a few years ago to more equitably share the commute to his job as a dean at the Mercer University campus in Atlanta.

About 3D Journeys:

3D Journeys offers four free lectures annually by LaGrange College faculty aimed at allowing participants to “discover, discuss and develop” through lectures and optional travel.  All lectures are on Mondays at 10 a.m. , in the Dickson Assembly Room of Turner Hall. Parking is in the lots adjacent to the pedestrian bridge on Vernon Street, with shuttle service to the door.  A Dutch-treat lunch is available in Pitts Dining Hall following each session. For additional information, call 706-880-8244.

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