Former Wayne State University Provost and Professor Emerita of French and Linguistics Margaret E. Winters has been recognized by Brooklyn College as a recipient of the Post 50th Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. Winters, who received her B.A. in French from Brooklyn College, received the award at her 55th class reunion on January 30.
“I was completely surprised and feel honored to be recognized by an institution that means a great deal to me,” said Winters.
Wayne State also shares in the honor, as Winters has been a member of the Warrior family for more than 15 years – as a linguist, educator, researcher, administrator and leader. She is currently chair of the Wayne State University Press Board of Visitors.
“I am a firm believer in the power of higher education and the need for access for all who are interested and capable,” said Winters. “When I arrived at Wayne State and began to understand what it stands for, I realized that I had come full circle from my undergraduate days at Brooklyn College – both are urban public universities, each with the joint mission of excellence at all levels and access to many who otherwise would not be able to achieve a university education.”
Throughout her career – at Wayne State and elsewhere – Winters made it her mission to not only remain a linguist, but to use her skills to enhance her administrative life. “An awareness of nuances of meaning is very valuable at the negotiations table,” Winters added. “Knowing how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in Chinese and Korean added another dimension to trips to Asia, both personal and when I went on university business.”
Winters’ infatuation with language and where it led her in her career may seem unconventional — even odd — to some. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I think languages are intrinsically interesting and fun to acquire – the more the merrier! I am fascinated by their structure and, particularly, their history – how did the structure change over time?”
When it comes to educating as a linguist, Winters reflects on the benefits of learning a foreign language even when the interest is only marginal. “Students should learn a foreign language as a way of better understanding the world around them; learning a language is an entry into a different culture – in the broadest sense – and way of thinking,” she said.
Since her time at Wayne State, Winters has been busy. She continues to publish in linguistics, having recently been asked to contribute to a theoretical chapter in a volume of historical linguistics as well as two encyclopedia entries. When she’s not serving on the Wayne State University Press Board of Visitors or several boards of directors — including the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings and SOAR-Lifelong Learning Institute — Winters occasionally advises academic colleagues and teaches. She also spends her time walking and taking classes in yoga and tai chi.
By Katheryn Kutil