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Community mourns French lecturer Shoggy Waryn

Students remember Waryn, who died last week, for dynamic personality and charisma

Colleagues and students remembered Shoggy Waryn as an engaging teacher, avid cinema lover and pioneer of integrating instructional technology into the classroom.

Waryn, who was 53 when he died last week of colon cancer, was a senior lecturer in French studies and served as director of Providence’s French Film Festival for nearly 10 years.

Students recalled Waryn’s passion for combining French with other aspects of education, whether cinema, technology or science.

Niesha Voigt ’14, a French studies concentrator, met Waryn during the fall of her sophomore year, when she was considering concentrating but had reservations because of her science and pre-medical background.

“I had reached out (to) him because I heard great things about him,” Voigt said. “He basically showed me how I could do both science and French.”

Aileen Frotten ’16, a student in Waryn’s accelerated French course last spring, FREN 0200: “Basic French,” said Waryn’s charisma helped animate the class, which met six times a week.

“He was very, very lively and made learning a really fun and rewarding experience,” Frotten said. She added that Waryn was one of the “most accessible and friendly teachers,” corresponding with her last summer about a French reading list.

“He was an extremely energetic and dynamic person in and out of the classroom,” said Lewis Seifert, professor of French studies and chair of the department.

In addition to serving as director of the film festival — which is currently underway ­— since 2005, Waryn brought more French cinema to the University. He helped grow Brown’s collection of French films to one of the largest of any university nationwide, according to a press release from the French studies department.

Waryn taught a number of French language courses and FREN 1150C: “French Cinema: The First Fifty Years,” in which Voigt was enrolled during the spring 2012 semester. Waryn encouraged his students to watch the course films, for weekly assignments, both online and on a large screen so they could “understand the concept of sitting down and watching a movie,” Voigt said.

“He wanted to make you feel the same passion he felt,” she added.

Waryn was also a large contributor to the Brown-in-France study abroad program, serving as resident director in Paris during three different years, said Kendall Brostuen, director of international programs and associate dean of the College. Even when Waryn was not on site in France, he was involved in Providence by preparing students for the program, Brostuen added.

“Some of the things that come to mind when I think about Shoggy is how dedicated he was to the program and to the students,” Brostuen said.

Waryn helped strengthen the program’s curriculum and partnerships with local universities, Brostuen said, adding that Waryn’s “contribution to cultivating our contacts in Paris and Lyon (is) immeasurable.”

Seifert underscored Waryn’s “instrumental” role in bringing web software to campus — successively, WebCT, MyCourses and Canvas — making the software “accessible for professors and students alike.” Waryn was also a member of the Computing Advisory Board and the Technology Committee for the Center for Language Studies, according to the press release.

Waryn asked for a traditional Irish wake for family and friends instead of a campus-wide memorial service, Seifert said.

“His untimely passing leaves a huge hole in our department and for Brown as well,” Seifert said.


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