By Joseph Pepin, Treasurer
There’s a new face among the faculty of the Humanities Department this year. Clint Bruce, an Assistant Professor of French and Brown University graduate, has been enjoying his stay so far at UMF. During the last semester, the Louisiana native was certainly involved in the UMF community, serving as a faculty advisor to the French Club and Amnesty International. Next year, he will also start serving as an advisor to International and Global Studies majors.
In addition to his involvement in organizations, Bruce taught two sections of French 101 last semester and an advanced class on slavery in the francophone world. This semester, he is eager to share his knowledge and Canadian social connections with students in a special topics course on Acadian culture. According to the new professor, part of the allure about joining the UMF faculty was being able to capitalize on Maine’s french culture.
“I wanted to go to a place where French wasn’t a foreign language and where it was sort of rooted in local culture…,” says Bruce, “the proximity to Canada was extremely attractive to me as well, since I have a lot of contacts there… I want to use those contacts to help improve the french experience at UMF.”
As far as what other factors attracted him to this school over the others, he says that UMF’s welcoming colleagues, strong focus on teaching, and large percentage of first-generation college students made the difference. A first-generation college student himself, Bruce affirms that UMF is a good environment to work in with high quality people. Indeed, the assistant professor was so enamored with the prospect of teaching at this institution that he declined a host of other offers. “I was a finalist for several positions and, to be honest, I liked UMF so much that I actually just didn’t wait for answers from the other schools. I just took it.”
Bruce’s current job is definitely a contrast from his former stint as an invited researcher at l’Université de Moncton or his past job as an ESL teacher to middle and high school kids in the Bronx, both experiences which equally delighted the Louisiana native. “I loved living in the Bronx; I got to work on my Spanish a lot; I felt very comfortable there…People were very warm, friendly.” However, as Bruce explains, “Specifically working for the New York City school system, it’s a very high paced level of work…As far as the pace of life side, it’s a little tiring.”
Outside of the classroom at UMF, Bruce is working on translating a collection of essays by a Native American activist from the Houma tribe of Louisiana and putting together a book for the Modern Language Association on civil war era French poetry from New Orleans. In regard to the challenge of teaching while pursuing these scholarly passions, Bruce responds jokingly, “It’s a lot of time management. [I] don’t waste too much time on Facebook. Even your professors have to fight that one.”
Although this mix of pedagogical activity and research is pleasing about working at UMF, the assistant professor also cites the students as a source of inspiration. In addition to commenting on their strong work ethic, Bruce also mentions that he is amazed by the punctuality of UMF undergraduates. Based on the comments of students who took classes with Bruce last semester, the admiration seems to work both ways.
According to Secondary English major and French 377 student, Ashton Carmichael, “Clint is a very enthusiastic and energetic professor who pushes his students to deeper understanding through challenging texts. In my experience, Clint has never ‘gone easy’ on a student, or class, when he knows they are capable of more.” This desire to help students reach new levels is not surprising, given Bruce’s views about the importance of foreign language in an educated society. In a world where French has taken himself so many places, Bruce recommends the language to every Maine student, regardless of major.