Dorothy Shawhan, Chairperson
Languages and Literature, Delta State University
Cleveland, MS 38733
662-846-4060               Fall 2009
RE:  Dr. James Tomek

Jim Tomek and I have been colleagues for the past thirty years in the Division of languages and Literature at Delta State University. He is responsible for the French program here and is chair of the Division curriculum committee. He is an energetic, innovative teacher and a productive scholar.

As a teacher, Jim is known for his enthusiasm, his eagerness to try a variety of methods to reach his students, and his willingness to share his expertise with all of us. The Rassias strategy that he uses with his French classes is one that particularly interests me. Several years ago Jim agreed to let in one of my upper level English classes videotape him using the method. The tape became an effective part of the student's oral presentation on teaching strategies. When I taught a world literature course, Jim willingly came to guest lecture on French symbolist poets.

Perhaps Jim as a teacher is explained best in an essay that one of his students wrote in our Writing Proficiency Examination. This student was preparing to be a teacher after graduation. He writes of Dr. Tomek that "teaching is not what he does; it's how he lives and how he feels about living." The student goes on to say that he "began taking French because my advisor said it would 'look good' on my English/Spanish major transcript," but that Dr. Tomek "has taken my indifferent attitude toward French and transformed it into a passion for France and anything French. He has also taken my disgust for math and changed it into interest in its role in my life. He has taken time to expand my love for languages, politics, and philosophy. Without his influence I may have settled for becoming an average teacher but not now. I will be the best because I am learning from the best.

Jim has a deep interest in connectedness in the curriculum and enjoys teaching in areas other than French. Each semester he teaches either a sophomore Introduction to Literature genre course on the novel and short story or one on drama and poetry. He also teaches a course on literary criticism which focuses on French film and was one of the lecturers in a special Psychology and Literature course. He is supportive of university activities of all disciplines. One sees Jim at science seminars, music concerts, literary readings, play productions, art exhibit openings, anywhere on campus where students and faculty are engaged in learning.

For many years Jim served as chair of the University Honors Committee and was in charge of all Honors day activities, a large undertaking. Hardly a semester goes by when he is not off to a conference giving a paper. in the summers, he is often in France or participating in summer study programs like those funded by NEH. He is currently editing our Division literary review Tapestry.

As a teacher and a scholar, Jim is a valuable part of our academic community at Delta State. I believe his interests, talents, and love of learning are an ideal match for an institution that possesses an interdisciplinary cultural climate.