Bettina Cothran, professor of German in the Ivan Allen College School of Modern Languages, taught her last class on campus on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, putting a period on her 26 years at Georgia Tech and a lengthy career in academia. Cothran will teach a final study abroad term in Germany this summer and then fully retire to enjoy dual homes in Atlanta and Germany.
Cothran was recently honored by the College as the recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Faculty Legacy Award. During a retirement celebration held on April 26, School of Modern Languages Chair Anna Westerstahl Stenport shared these remarks about Dr. Cothran:
Just a few months ago, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017) released a major report at the request of a bipartisan Congress Commission. That report is called “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century” and it highlights the “imperative” of high-level second language and intercultural competency for national security, international commerce, and social equity, and it urges colleges and universities to
“Find new ways to provide opportunities for advanced study in languages, to treat language education as a persistent national need like competency in math or English, and to ensure that a useful level of proficiency is within every student’s reach.”
At Georgia Tech, 30 percent of the undergraduate student population is in the process of learning a second or third language. There is no language requirement at Georgia Tech. 54 percent of our undergraduates study abroad through programs such as the signature Languages for Business and Technology (LBAT) summer programs in the School of Modern Languages, including the German program led by Dr. Cothran. The Strategic Plan’s Goal Number Four stresses that Georgia Tech should be expanding its global footprint and influence…and graduating good global citizens.
What does this all have to do with Professor Cothran?
A lot, actually. Bettina is exactly the kind of teacher, scholar, advisor, mentor, and colleague whose expertise and professional commitments bridge the interests of the nation, state, and individual student to ensure language proficiency, cross-cultural understanding, strong public diplomacy ties, and global citizenship for the betterment of all. Indeed, Bettina has helped make such things happen for many individual students, and has also strengthened the international footprint of the School of Modern Languages and the Institute at large through her leadership and advocacy on multiple levels. For me as School Chair, I have had the particular privilege of observing this in my collaborations with Bettina in her role as associate chair for international matters in the School.
Bettina’s heart, however, is in teaching, and I have heard her express her agreement with Marcus Tullius Cicero, who said that there is “no nobler employment…than to instruct the next generation.”
It is a pleasure to celebrate her many contributions and her pioneering work integrating language and culture studies as part of the DNA of Georgia Tech.
Bettina will be retiring in June, and moving on to new and exciting initiatives. We thank Bettina, and we hope that you will hold the German Program in the School of Modern Languages in your heart, as you move on to new and exciting initiatives, and that you will come back and see us often.
Bettina Cothran holds a Ph.D. in German Literature from the University of Wuppertal in Germany. She joined Georgia Tech in January 1991. She built her academic career around innovative program development in Business German, interdisciplinary courses and Intercultural Studies.
At Georgia Tech, she initiated courses jointly taught with faculty from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs on topics of the European Union and globalization. She developed and has directed the nationally recognized immersion program LBAT for German, which offers up to 12 credits and is taught on location in Germany. She represents the School of Modern Languages as a member of the International Plan Committee. She initiated German Day at Georgia Tech, now in its seventh year, which successfully brings together students, advisors, businesses, and sponsors, and which was recognized by Governor Nathan Deal with a Proclamation on October 18, 2016 as German Day for the State of Georgia.
Together with the Office of International Education, she has worked to strengthen the liaison between Georgia Tech and its German partner universities and international companies. Cothran is well-connected in national and international academia and has developed strong ties to the business world, benefitting placement of Georgia Tech students. She has secured financial support for study abroad from private sponsors and foundations, and has been instrumental in obtaining grants from The Halle Foundation and the Barry and Gail Spurlock Foundation.