The Department of French and Italian

French Lecturer Peter Fazziola Retires

Mon, October 1, 2012
French Lecturer Peter Fazziola Retires
Peter Fazziola

Peter Fazziola received his B. A. in French in 1971 from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY, and his Ph. D. in French with a specialization in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Literature in 1975 from The University of Iowa. In 1989, after a career in secondary education, Peter came to UT and earned an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the Foreign Language Education Center.  In his 22 years at UT, Peter taught a wide variety of courses from French 506 through  French 326K.  In the second half of his career here, he specialized in Business French. Now in retirement, Peter continues his daily routine of a morning swim at the UT Aquatics Complex, and is devoting more time to reading his favorite authors such as Nelson DeMille, Ken Follett, Michael Connolly and, of course, François Mauriac.

On the occasion of Peter Fazziola’s retirement, faculty and staff from the department met at Gabriel’s Court Patio at the AT&T Center on Friday, September 21. The following are excerpts from Chair David Birdsong’s text honoring Peter.

We’re here this splendid afternoon to honor Peter Fazziola and to celebrate his twenty-two years with the Department of French and Italian.  Peter, a lecturer in French who speaks Italian and has an Italian last name, is the Department’s flesh and blood bridge between the two languages and cultures.

All of us here know that Peter has always been a loyal and trusted colleague, a reliable and admirable mainstay in the lecturer corps. We all know that Peter has been called on to teach an array of courses, which he has done with great success. We know that Peter distinguished himself by developing and teaching “Le français des affaires.” He was also in charge of developing the local competition for the Diplôme de français des affaires which is awarded by the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris.  We know that Peter prepared dozens of students for this competition, and that most of them succeeded.

But after two-plus decades of service here, there are things folks don’t know about Peter. Most of us don’t know that Peter received his MA from the University of Iowa in only one year, and the Ph.D, also from Iowa, only three years later!  (I’d wager that no-one else in the Department went from BA to Ph.D in just four years.)

How many of us knew that Peter has published on Voltaire, Lesage, and Claudel? How many of us were aware that Peter has received not one, not two, but three NEH Summer Seminar awards?  That he received a Council for Basic Education award for independent study of Gide? That he received an award from the French Embassy to study at the Centre de Linguistique Appliquée in Besançon?

Not all of us are aware of depth of Peter’s commitment to the welfare of the department. To cite one example, the day after our December 2011 departmental meeting, where I had asked colleagues to share with us their service activities and initiatives, Peter sent me the following email message:

I think that yesterday's meeting was an unalloyed success.  The meeting was free of self-congratulatory overtones. There was no litany of personal achievements, however laudable.  Those who spoke did not regale us with their own noteworthy accomplishments.  Rather, they communicated what they are doing for others. For me, then, the hallmark of the entire endeavor was its sense of altruism, an altruism which may always have been present, but hardly ever so manifest.

Peter had observed community, generosity, and humility–values that keep departments on track and healthy, and values that Peter himself embodies–and he cared enough to write about what he had witnessed.

And here we segue back to what people do know about Peter. In his company the conversation often turns to notions of citizenship, fairness, and decency. We’ve learned that Peter has a refined sense of right and wrong, of the common good, of looking out for the little guy.

I’d like to share with you now a saying in Latin that’s attributed to Claudio Acquaviva, S.J. (1543 –1615), an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founders of the Jesuit Order.

Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo

Reverend Acquaviva’s words –‘resolute in deed, gentle in manner’–could not be a more fitting description of Peter Fazziola’s nature. Peter possesses a moral compass that is true, and he acts, unerringly, on where that compass arrow is pointing.  He does so with tact, with warmth, and with sincerity. 

Peter’s resolute but gentle character has uplifted students, colleagues, and departmental staff for twenty-two years.  Peter, I speak for everyone in the Department of French and Italian: We are grateful to have known you. Thank you, and Godspeed.

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