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University searches for permanent director for Paris program

Chair of French Studies Lewis Seifert heads search committee, hopes to name new director by Aug. 1

By
Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2016

The University has launched a search committee to fill the resident director position for the Paris study abroad program. The Office of International Programs is seeking out a permanent hire to replace the rotating Brown faculty members who filled the position in past years.

The University decided to make this change to ensure the continuity of education for students studying French at Brown, said Dean of the College Maud Mandel. Instead of having faculty lecturers in the French department go abroad, it has become important to have the faculty members stay on campus to work with students during the year, she added.

The OIP is launching the search for the new resident director with Lewis Seifert, professor and chair of French Studies, heading the committee.

“Typically for these positions, we look for people who have experience in study abroad programs or experience as a scholar,” Mandel said. “It benefits students studying abroad by having somebody who is permanently there and able to have deeper connections over time with the local academic landscape,” she added. “It has benefits to students here as well because the lecturer for French studies will be here throughout the year.”

The study abroad program in Paris is the only program that had a faculty member as the resident director. The new change will align the French program with other study abroad programs at Brown.

The resident director provides academic advising for students by helping them navigate the French education system, find relevant information and monitor students’ academic progress throughout the semester, said Stephanie Ravillon, senior lecturer in French Studies and the current Brown in France resident director. The resident director is also responsible for meeting with students throughout their time abroad to set up and discuss a personalized project around an activity or theme of their choice.

Jaclyn Zhong ’17 studied abroad at Sorbonne University in Paris and Pierre and Marie Curie University last fall and recalls that Ravillon was a significant help in adjusting to the French university system.

“The French academic system is very different, and Professor Ravillon acted as a liaison between exchange students and the French university system,” Zhong said.

Zhong added that she planned her semester abroad knowing that Ravillon would be the resident director that year. “She was one of my French professors my freshman year, and I knew her pretty well,” she said. “She was really close with a lot of people, and I would consider us friends.”

Ravillon said she found it meaningful to work with students studying abroad as resident director. “Participating in their study abroad experience has been important to me as a teacher as well, as I know I will be able to build on that experience if returning students take classes with me — which I hope they will,” she said. “Having studied in the French system and having taught in France at the university level, it was also a pleasure to share my experiences with my students.”

The search committee hopes to have an academic director in place by Aug. 1, Seifert said.

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