Shoggy Thierry Waryn (September 18, 1960-February 18, 2014)

  Shoggy Thierry Waryn                                           (September 18, 1960-February 18, 2014)

After an extended illness, Senior Lecturer of French Studies Shoggy Thierry Waryn passed away at home surrounded by close friends on February 18, 2014.

Born on September 18, 1960 in Dijon, France, where he spent his childhood, he earned the Baccalauréat Scientifique in 1978.  In the English Department at the Université de Dijon, he earned a DEUG (1981), a Licence-ès-Lettres (1983), and a Maîtrise (1986) in American Studies.  After serving as a teaching assistant at Clark University, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Iowa, where he was awarded a PhD in Film Studies in 1997, with a dissertation entitled French Television, French Culture: State Television in the Age of Globalization. 

Waryn was Lecturer of French at MIT from 1991-1998 and served as Coordinator of the French section there beginning in 1993.  He was Director of the Undergraduate French Program at the Ohio State University from 1998-1999 before joining two instructional technology firms, SmartPlanet.com, where he was Course Editor, and WebCT.com, where he was Content Project Manager and Trainer.  In 2001, Waryn joined the Brown faculty as Lecturer of French Studies and, in 2005, was promoted to the rank of Senior Lecturer. 

A dynamic, innovative, and demanding teacher with a strong following among students, Waryn supervised and taught courses in elementary to advanced French language as well as French cinema. He was closely involved with the Brown-in-France study abroad program and served as Resident Director in Paris in 2003-2004, 2006-2007, and 2009-10.  In his role as supervisor of multi-section language courses, he was a dedicated mentor to graduate student teaching assistants. 

A specialist of French cinema, he was passionate about bringing film into the classroom. With the support of the Sevaux Family Fund, he built Brown’s collection of French films, which is now one of the largest of any university in the U.S.  From the time of his arrival at Brown, he was closely involved with the annual Providence French Film Festival, for which he served as Director beginning in 2005.  Indeed, he was active in the planning of the 2014 Festival until shortly before his death.

Both in and out of the classroom, Waryn was a strong advocate for instructional technology.  He was a longstanding member of the Computing Advisory Board, and played a key role in the campus-wide adoption of successive course management systems (WebCT, MyCourses, and more recently Canvas).  Waryn was also an active member of the Center for Language Studies at Brown, in which he served on numerous committees, most notably the Technology Committee.  As chair of that committee, he worked tirelessly to ensure language faculty were afforded the necessary and most appropriate tools for effective teaching.

Waryn was active in research on second language acquisition and was especially interested in fostering closer links between language learning and emerging technologies. Among numerous initiatives for computer- and web-based language instruction, he was a founding collaborator, with Gilberte Furstenberg and Sabine Levet, of the Cultura project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This web-based intercultural project, initially designed to connect students of French at MIT with students of English in a French university or Grande École, has as its goal to help students co-construct an in-depth understanding of each other’s cultures. The Cultura methodology has been adopted by many universities across the U.S. and the world, and has been adapted to many other languages and cultures.  Waryn was instrumental in bringing Cultura to Brown and helped his colleagues develop Cultura-based projects in Russian (with Lynne Debenedette) and Spanish (with Beth Bauer).

Waryn was the recipient of numerous honors, including grants from the Consortium for Language Learning, a Hoover Foundation Fellowship, and a Rotary Club Scholarship. He was made a Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Government in 1998.

He is survived by his mother, Lucienne Waryn, of Dijon, France.