Born in Jamaica, Dr. Ezra Engling, professor of Spanish and former chair of the foreign languages and humanities department, knows six languages, has lived in four continents and is published on three. As a senior Fulbright research fellow in Morocco, he analyzed representations of Moorish characters in Spanish Golden Age literature. Other academic interests include medieval literature, cultural and gender studies, learning technologies, translation, Caribbean dialectology and reggae. Engling’s musical gifts are significant. After winning regional and national awards as a tenor soloist in Jamaica, he continued high level amateur performances in the U.S., singing at Princeton and Texas A&M. Joining Eastern’s faculty in 2006, he also joined the Lexington Singers, participating in the 2007 Brazil tour.
Engling’s tenure as department chair of foreign languages and humanities saw increased enrollment and staffing; restoration of Arabic study; a new major in comparative humanities; introduction of online, hybrid and service-learning offerings; and a significant upgrade of the media lab. His dedication to a new Spanish translation program, ongoing work for a Japanese consortium with Kentucky universities, and extensive involvement with Black History Month and the Latino Student Association enrich multiculturalism on the Eastern campus.
Classes, labs and monthly tertulias [chats] create a warm, supportive Spanish-speaking campus community. Nominations for the Teaching Excellence Award gratefully acknowledge a “master teacher” with “a talent for creating questions that demand close reading and analysis,” while his international experience gives in-depth, integrated views of foreign affairs. True, he gives abundant homework, students note, but Engling’s generous enthusiasm compensates. To create a mental picture of the great epochs of Spanish history, he invites students to movie viewing days at his home with elaborate, delicious meals, Spanish snacks and Spanish-speaking guests to practice conversation skills. Dr. Ezra Engling’s goals are “a reach,” one student wrote, but this master teacher also builds the “scaffolding” to reach those goals with a clear understanding of a great, diverse culture.