posted November 23, 2009

Ion Agheana to Speak through “Last Lecture Series”

 Dr. Ion Agheana, professor of romance languages at Hope College, will present the address "The Western World: The Vagaries of History and Faith" on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Agheana will be speaking through the "Last Lecture Series" organized by the college's Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society to feature members of the faculty.

The title of the series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college's students.  The professors are being asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the "Last Lecture" delivered at CarnegieMellonUniversity by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer--a fact known at the time that he spoke--presented "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Agheana is a native of Romania, and graduated from the University of Bucharest in 1961.  He came to the U.S. in the latter 1960s, and completed his master's and doctorate in Spanish in 1967 and 1970 respectively at HarvardUniversity.

He joined the Hope faculty in 1979 after previously teaching at Dartmouth College.  He primarily teaches Spanish, but has also taught French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. 

He joined the faculty as an associate professor, and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1986.  The graduating senior class named him the recipient of the college's "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award in 1983.

He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including the books "Existentialism and the Dynamics of Surprise," "The Meaning of Experience in the Prose of J.L. Borges" and "A Reasoned Thematic Dictionary of the Prose of Jorges Luis Borges."  He is internationally respected as an authority on both Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges and Romanian philosopher and essayist Emil Cioran, and was one of only seven Borges scholars featured in the 1995 book "Conversaciones sobre Borges" ("Conversations about Borges") and one of only six Cioran scholars featured in the 2007 book "Cioran. El pesimista seductor" ("Cioran. The Seductive Pessimist").

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 227 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.

The chapter also sponsored a "last chance talk" during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first "last chance talk" in the spring of 1962.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.