Department of Germanic Studies

New Endowment Invigorates Germanic Studies

Tue, May 1, 2007

While in Germany, Van Dusen became intrigued with learning the German language, an interest that ultimately motivated him to become a university professor. "After being honorably discharged from the Army, I took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study for two years at the University of Munich," he says. "But people advised me that to be a professor, I should obtain a graduate degree from a university in North America."

The University of Texas was one of seven schools Van Dusen considered, based on the quality of their German departments. He ultimately decided on UT because of its commitment to scholastic excellence and the opportunity to teach while he worked toward his degree. "The professors at Texas were extremely supportive and helpful," he recalls. "I worked hard "h 60 to 70 hours a week "h but I loved what I was doing."

After obtaining both a master's degree and doctorate in Germanic studies, he accepted a job at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in the early 1960s. He has lived in Canada ever since but continues to feel a strong allegiance to UT Austin. Having already provided several gifts to support the Department of Germanic Studies, he recently increased his investment substantially with an appreciated insurance policy worth $250,000 to endow the Van Dusen Scholarship and Fellowship Fund.

The endowment, which supports both undergraduate and graduate students, has energized the department, according to Professor Kit Belgum. "We are thrilled about Professor Van Dusen's generous gift to Germanic Studies. His scholarships have already opened up new opportunities, such as internships and study abroad, for students of German."

Heidi Gensler, a junior with a double major in biomedical engineering and German, is a Van Dusen Scholar currently studying in Hamburg, Germany. "I am so grateful to Dr. Van Dusen for providing me with the financial support for my study abroad," she says. "I'm interacting with students from all over the world and gaining experience in both fields."

(This article first appeared in a slightly different form in the Winter '06 edition of Life and Letters, a publication of the College of Liberal Arts.)

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