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Commemorating Forty Years of the Society for Romanian Studies

James Augerot, University of Washington

James Augerot served as the first SRS secretary and treasurer from 1973-1978 and then remained on as treasurer until 2006, when he took on both roles once again, serving until 2010.

The importance of exchanges such as Fulbright cannot be overestimated. I was given one in 1964 and spent two years in Cluj-Napoca. The experience itself was fascinating and delightful. I stood on the sidewalk with thousands to watch Nicolae Ceauşescu triumphantly drive through town a couple of months after Dej died. But the lasting effect was even greater. After a few years when my initial Romanian experience was beginning to fade into the past, many of the people I met at various conferences and further trips to Romania encouraged us to propose a conference on Romanian Language and Literature. After an AAASS Congress in 1970 I returned to the University of Washington determined not to lose the wonderful connections I had established, so I wrote the “powers that were” in D.C. that we needed to gather some scholars and put out some information about this rather hidden jewel of South East Europe. They agreed and we – Michael Impey (another Fulbrighter whom I had met on the beaches of the Black Sea) and I – sent out an invitation to everyone we thought fit the purpose. It resulted in a conference on the UW campus in 1972 that in turn provided the impetus for our formation of the Romanian Studies Group. We were pleased that many outside our group of mainly literature and language people welcomed our proposition and after a rather informal election in 1973 the deed was done and I became the Secretary-Treasurer. We had many excellent officers and board members in those early days but the crucial one, I believe, was Paul Michelson, who took over the presidency and took the newsletter duties away from me. I believe that it is to him we owe the continuing existence and influence of our Society for Romanian Studies.

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