Robert LaBouve

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By lkoelle on January 4, 2012. No Comments

One of our outstanding 2011 honorees for
the Lifetime Achievement Award of the
Eta Sigma Phi Society is Robert LaBouve,
known as “Bobby” to all of us who have
had the privilege of working with him.
Bobby LaBouve received B. A. and M. A.
degrees from the University of Texas at
Austin, did graduate work at the University
of Kansas, the University of Minnesota,
and the State University of New York
at Albany, and taught Latin in Houston
public schools.
Soon various professional and government
entities were clamoring for him to
use his understanding of foreign language
instruction beyond the classroom. He
became Latin Language Consultant for the
Texas State Department of Education; was
the Director of the Languages Unit for that
agency; and served as Senior Associate
for Language Policy and Planning for the
Joint National Committee for Languages
in Washington, D.C. This is a selective list
of his service in administrative capacity.
Bobby retired as Coordinator for Project
ExCELL in the Southwest Educational Development
Laboratory in Austin. Within
our field of Classics, Bobby served as Chair
of the Scholarship Committee of the National
Latin Exam Committee; chaired the
National Committee for Latin and Greek;
and was Chair of the Priorities Committee
for Classics in the American Council on
the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Again,
this is a selective list only!
Of the many speeches Bobby made
about the teaching of Foreign Language,
one will show you how important his voice
has been for pedagogy during the twentieth
and twenty-first centuries: he spoke on
“Translating the National Foreign Language
Standards into Latin and Greek,” a
presentation he made with Martha Abbott
and Sally Davis at the American Council
on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Here is one example of his many influential
publications: “Classics and the Report
of the President’s Commission on Foreign
Languages and International Studies,”
which appeared in The Classical Outlook
in 1992.
Bobby LaBouve is proud to be a member
of the Eta Sigma Phi Society since
1962. In 1963 he was elected to Phi Beta
Kappa, and in 1974 to Phi Kappa Phi. He
was a Mellon Fellow at the Institute of
Advanced Studies in the National Foreign
Language Center at Johns Hopkins University
in Washington, D. C.
We are only the latest in a line of organizations
to honor Bobby. He was recognized,
for instance, by the Texas Foreign
Language Association at its annual conference
in 1996 for “Outstanding Leadership
as an Advocate for Languages Other Than
English.” The Classical Association of the
Midwest and South gave him one of the
ovationes it reserves for the most important
contributors to our discipline.
I cannot resist mentioning the great
honor and pleasure it was for me to work
with Bobby when I studied and then briefly
taught at UT Austin. He helped me with
the student interns I supervised in internships
in Austin high schools, and I helped
him revise the Teachers’ Manual for the
Teaching of Latin in the State of Texas.
What impressed me most — after his obvious
competence in pedagogy and administrative
supervisory positions — was Bobby’s
modest opinion of his talents, talents all
the rest of us in the Classics could see
clearly. He was the unselfish colleague we
all hope for, and I am doubly privileged to
have the opportunity to present to you the
name of Bobby LaBouve as a 2011 recipient
of the Lifetime Achievement Award
bestowed by the Eta Sigma Phi Society.