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David Lee Retirement
David Lee Following 38 years of distinguished service to the department, university and profession, Dr. David Lee will retire at the end of this calendar year. Professor Lee came to UT Knoxville from Fisk University where he had served for two years as Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages. After the retirement of Henry Kratz as Head of Germanic and Slavic Languages, David again served as Head of this Department for eleven years.

Within one year of his arrival here, David called the founding meeting of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). Over a span of decades, David remained critical to the success of Tennessee AATG in a wide variety of roles. He was an early President of the chapter, served as local representative for its Placement Information Center, and as member and chair of the Testing Awards Program. By proposing and supporting the immensely successful statewide German Festival (Frühlingsfest) for high school German students, he promoted and encouraged thousands of German students to excellence and strengthened scores German programs around the state. He served for seven years as Advisory Board Member to the Consortium for German in the Southeast, a program that sponsors yearly refresher seminars for German high school and college teachers in the region. In recognition of his service to the profession, the German government awarded him the Federal Republic of Germany Friendship Award and the American Association of Teachers of German followed this with the coveted Certificate of Merit.

David Lee also assumed other valuable roles of professional leadership. In the AAUP, he chaired the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, edited the Newsletter, served as Secretary, Treasurer, State Chapter President and State Delegate to the National Convention. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate at Princeton, he was President of the chapter here and has served for a decade as transcript evaluator for new inductees.

David has repeatedly distinguished himself in the classroom, both here and abroad. He has led student groups to Berlin in the highly interdisciplinary course, Berlin-A City of Scars, an experience that made students ready for the world before that slogan became fashionable. In Fall 2003, he was the Faculty Director of the UT Study Program at the University of Swansea in Wales. Closer to home, he regularly teaches our very popular German Film course, for which he has amassed an impressive collection of films, teaches the bibliography course for graduate students of German and French, a critical component of their future research work, and teaches an impressive range of courses focusing on the German Enlightenment, Rococco, Storm and Stress, and Classicism, with a special emphasis on Goethe.

Shortly after coming to UT, David garnered a coveted ACLS grant enabling him to develop and publish important articles on Goethe’s late masterwork West-östlicher Divan. Extending his interest in poetry, he has worked on lyric poetry ranging across two centuries from Karl Wilhelm Ramler to Gottfried Benn. Further exhibiting his breadth of scholarship, he organized an important conference celebrating Henry Kratz’ career and, together with Ulrich Goebel, shepherded an important Festschrift to completion: The Ring of Words in Medieval Literature. David’s most recent work focuses on preparing for publication the complete correspondence of Karl Wilhelm Ramler and Ludwig Gleim in the last decades of the eighteenth century. This very extensive body of letters between two of the most insightful, knowledgeable and admittedly gossipy figures of this period holds the key to understanding many of the undercurrents in this formational period of modern German literature.

However impressive these achievements are, a list of David Lee’s distinguished accomplishments in service to the profession, in classroom teaching, in mentoring a host of MA and PhD students to the completion of their studies, and in publication of notable research in an intensely researched field barely touches the essence of the colleague who has been bastion of discerning and vigorous leadership, stability, good sense, wise advice, thoughtful reflection, supportive collegiality and friendship to me and so many others in and outside this University. We are the richer for having had the privilege of working with him over the decades, look forward to his continued involvement in the German section in the post- retirement phase, and will be deeply grateful to find another colleague in the future who can match his talents, his accomplishments and his humanity.

-- Submitted by Jeff Mellor (German)

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