On Tuesday, November 29th, we were able to celebrate Johanna Eriksson's Collegiate Lecturer Award. This prestigious honor is awarded annually by the Provost to three lecturers from units across the university. In the company of the Dean of LSA and the Associate Dean for the Humanities, Johanna was celebrated with speeches and a reception in recognition of her amazing dedication to her students, the department, and the university.
Although she has help from excellent lecturers and the occasional visiting scholar, it is no exaggeration to say that Johanna is the Scandinavian Program at the University of Michigan, which she has led from one success to the next. Those successes – measurable in the introduction and flourishing of a Swedish minor in an era when other less commonly taught foreign language programs are faltering; but also in the visibility of the Scandinavian Program within the larger community and in the growth of its endowments – are built on a bedrock of inspiring pedagogy: for countless students, Johanna has become “the most influential person” in their undergraduate careers and beyond, “one of the best advisers in any department at Michigan,” to quote but two of the many testimonials we received. Another student wrote: "I’ve recommended Johanna several times to other students at, and entering, university. No interest in Scandinavia? No problem. By the time you’ve completed a class with Johanna, you will. Johanna, in large part, helped make my experience at the University of Michigan a great one. I would have never assumed a mandatory two-year requirement would lead me to a love of languages and a world region.”
Of course, we are always happy to receive such glowing endorsements of Michigan’s language requirement - but above all, these are tributes to Johanna’s brilliance in the classroom and beyond, where she has fostered the Scandinavian community and brought fascinating programming to Michigan through the annual Signe-Karlström event, which only just last month featured a full three days of plays and workshops on the playwright Lars Norén (in cooperation with the School of Music, Theater, and Dance, the Residential College, and the Aqvavit Theater Company from Chicago, no less!). We are enormously grateful to Johanna for all her hard work and take pride in her Collegiate Lecturer Award!