French professor to retire

The Truman State French department is looking to fill the hole left when professor Patrick Lobert retires during December.

Lobert directed French plays each semester as well as leading several summer study abroad excursions. Once he retires, French students will not have access to a French performing art experience such as his plays. To help sustain French co-curriculars outside the classroom, the French department will try to hire a new professor.  

Lobert says he enjoyed his time at Truman, but especially has enjoyed putting on French plays each semester that allowed French students to practice their accent, speaking skills and performance abilities. Though he might stay on as a part-time professor during the spring semester, Lobert says he does not have plans to continue the plays in the near future.

The plays have given students chances to practice their French skills all over the country – during the past, actors have had opportunities to perform these plays at many off-campus locations, such as the Alliance Française in St. Louis and the University of Missouri, Lobert says.

Lobert also began the faculty-led study abroad programs during 2003 for the French department. He says he has taken students to different locations throughout France, such as Chambery, Annecy and Aix-en-Provence where he and a group of students performed a French play at the Institute of American Studies for a French audience.

I think students really enjoyed study abroad and combining the theater in Aix-en-Provence,” Lobert says. “There you had a real French audience and a real French experience. I think it was quite a thrill for the students.”

Department coordinator Gregg Siewert says these activities Lobert created help French students practice their French outside of a classroom setting in a way that enhances conversation and pronunciation skills.

“These plays have affected over 200 students who have either attended or participated in them,” Siewert says. “It would be very sad to see that go away.”

Siewert says the current faculty do not have the same expertise as Lobert to manage and direct the French plays, but that the department hopes to hire a new professor who can help in that area.

The department indicated in the job description that preferred applicants would be available to participate in co-curricular activities, but it might take a different format than a play, Siewert says, such as a French short film. He says the activity would all depend on the individual and what their background and strengths are like.

Siewert says he hopes Lobert’s absence will not negatively impact the faculty-led study abroad programs, which Lobert was involved with many times. Siewert says other professors have and will continue to lead these excursions in years to come.

However, Lobert’s retirement will affect students’ experiences at Truman, says senior French major and French club president Lauren Schultz. Schultz studied abroad in Annecy, France, with Lobert and six other Truman students during summer 2015.

There’s going to be an empty hole in the French department,” Schultz says. “After studying abroad with him in the faculty-led trip, he’s the professor I go to for help with any French-related questions I have. The other professors are great, but him being gone will definitely change things.”