Skip to main content

History of the Department

MCL Graduates

Our Mission


Under the overarching mission of the College and the School of Arts and Humanities, the Modern and Classical Languages Department is a nurturing community of faculty and students who learn and use languages other than English to study other peoples, their cultures, as well as their arts and letters. We perform a particularly significant role in fulfilling the College’s mission of promoting respect for diversity and individual differences, as well as to community and global engagement. As we near our centennial, we uphold an Ambassador Model to our students throughout their course of study, one that centers on: scholarship, diplomacy, global citizenship and engaged professionalism. Within the time-honored tradition of a language department’s  commitment to language and letters, our academic programs engage students in thinking critically about the historical role of scholarship in the target language’s cultures, arts and humanities, while promoting high, diplomatic standards of correct and socioculturally appropriate use of the target language. Evermindful of the rise of civic and economic globalization, we are dedicated to providing the highest-quality preparation of reflective and engaged language professionals who possess and demonstrate life-long commitment to an expanded sense of global citizenship.

A History of Award-Winning Faculty and Staff

1997  Andrea Guiati, Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

1998  Eliane McKee, Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

2000 Deborah Hovland, President's Award for Excellence in Teaching

2000 Maria Assad, President's Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity

2002 Michael Johnson, Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

2004  Carol Kirby, President's Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity

2009  Andrea Guiati, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor

2009  Marcia Burns,  President's Award for Excellence in Service to the College

2015  Dorothy Wiswall,  Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching

2020  Maribel Garrett, President's Award for Excellence in Professional Service

Timeline of the Department

1963   The Foreign Language Unit becomes a separate Department within the Humanities Faculty; faculty are hired to staff the new programs to train teachers of French and Spanish 7-12.

1968   The college establishes its first study-abroad program in Siena, Italy; it continues for 40 years.

1970   The college jointly with SUNYAB establishes a study-abroad program in Salamanca, Spain.

1973   The department reaches its zenith in terms of full-time staffing: 18 faculty.

1976   The Italian BA program begins a period of expansion, including the in-house journal Italiana Americana.

1978   The department creates a ceremony to recognize undergraduate student achievement: the Messner and Falbo Awards are established on an annual basis.

1983   Hiring of part-time teaching staff moves beyond the “Spanish for Spanish Speakers” courses, ultimately sustaining offerings in Chinese, German, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and Swahili. The college adopts a 2-year single language requirement for all students in BA programs.

2000   The Department name is officially changed to Modern and Classical Languages.

2003   The new Language Learning Laboratory makes its resources available to students, just as the college reduces the language requirement for BA students from 2 years down to 1.  Graduate courses in French and Spanish are developed and offered for a while.

2009   The French and Spanish teacher education programs receive ACTFL-NCATE National Recognition; a gradual shift begins toward language learning for the 21st- century global workforce.

2012   Dr. Andrea Guiati (Italian & French) attains the SUNY rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor. 

2015   Adoption of the Ambassador Model for Learning and Teaching, an important statement of our collective commitment to fostering students' cross-cultural and global competencies, while the teacher education programs are phased out.

2018   Departmental Award Affordable Learning Materials initiative begins; hiring of full-time faculty with translation and interpreting credentials begins, a key part of our move toward a focus on producing language professionals.

2021   The Department marks the 95th anniversary of the start of language instruction on campus (in 1926) technology continues to permit multiple language-learning platforms and modes, as needed.  

Back to Top

Modern and Classical Languages

Buffalo State •  1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Buckham Hall B234
Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-5414 •  Fax: (716) 878-6730