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UTM professor to receive prestigious award

UTM professor to receive prestigious award


News Editor

MARTIN — Dr. Robert D. Peckham, a French professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has been selected to receive a prestigious award from La Renaissance Francaise, a non-profit organization founded in France in 1916 by then-French president Raymond Poincare.

Three other Americans will also receive medals at an April 10 ceremony in New York, but the highest honor –  the gold medal of La Renaissance Francaise –  will go to Peckham for his national impact on French language instruction in the U.S. through teaching programs and published articles.

“It’s an especially big honor for me at this time in my career,” Peckham told the Press. “Since I have not held a lot of standard in leadership positions, this is a final confirmation to me that I am a leader.”

Peckham, who has taught at UTM since 1979, is the director of the Muriel Tomlinson Language Resource Center at UTM. He is also director of the Globe Gate Intercultural Web Project of the Andy Holt Virtual Library and is the online creator of “Tennessee Bob’s Famous French Links.”

He is a recognized scholar on the work of Francois Villon, a medieval French poet.

Peckham said there were many people who influenced him to become a French professor.

“My grandmother wanted me to become a French teacher – and she was a French teacher to soldiers during the war. She encouraged me,” he said. “And then a series of individual teachers encouraged me. I always liked French. I wasn’t very good at it in junior high, but when I got to high school I started to have teachers who encouraged me and introduced me to things in French that were engaging and fun. They encouraged me to go on. Since 10th grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.”

He said the award celebrates several things.

“I think that especially for the French government, my work as the head of a national advocacy organization for French is promoting French and defending programs is one of the main reasons why I am receiving the award,” he said. “The other is that I have been able to become a leader as a scholar also, as a scholar of French literature and French culture.”

Others who will be honored are Bernard Metais of Oakland, Calif., Claude Lambert of San Francisco and William C. Carter of Birminham, Ala.

Francois Delattre, France’s ambassador to the U.S., will present the medals.

Asked what he loves most abou teaching French at UTM, Peckham said, “I love the students. That’s why I’m there.”

(Published in the Press 2-21-13)


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