The new Thormann International Center in Julia Rogers was dedicated on April 5 in honor of Dr. Wolfgang Thormann. Thormann was the chair of the Modern Languages Department at Goucher from 1969-1989. Today, the department is called the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. While working, he opened the original Thormann International and Technology Center in Froelicher Hall, and the building was dedicated to him. His dream was to have Froelicher Hall made into a language dorm. Though Froelicher was not turned into a language dorm, it still houses the original Thormann International Center.
During his thirty years at Goucher College, Dr. Thormann was interested in the cultural dimension and visual aspect of language learning. He worked with a company called Scola, which transmits educational television programs through various mediums. He also advocated for students to study abroad. After his retirement, he continued helping the department for another two and a half decades.
The keynote speech was given by Dr. Olya Samilenko. Dr. Samilenko is the Director of the Cooperative Goucher-Hopkins Russian Program. Three other department staff also gave speeches: Flo Martin, Mark Ingram and Kathryn St. Ours.
During his speech, Dr. Thormann talked about how the radio got him interested in learning new languages. He grew up in France and during the Second World War, would often listen to English language radio station such as the BBC.
“I thought it would be nice if I could understand what they were talking about,” he said.
Thormann whose native language is French, went on to learn English and became a French professor at Goucher in 1957. He also explained the changes that have occurred in the language department over the years. While he was teaching, Goucher only offered French, German, Spanish and Russian. Today, Goucher also teaches Italian, Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese.
After the speeches were given, a lunch was held in the Soper Room, where there was a presentation on the Goucher-Hopkins Russian Program.