Spain honors Dean of Humanities

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By Barry Knight

Almost every day it seems like a BYU professor is given an award by some unknown organization, but it’s not every day a BYU professor is honored by a whole nation.

The Spanish government recently honored BYU Dean of Humanities John Rosenberg by awarding him the Officer’s Cross of Civil Merit.  The award was presented by D. Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, ambassador from Spain to the United States, on behalf of King Juan Carlos I and the government of Spain at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., recently.

The Officer’s Cross of Civil Merit, created by King Alfonso XIII in 1926, is meant to honor the virtues of civil servants and other extraordinary service to Spain.

Rosenberg said he was honored to receive the award, but he could have never received it without the help of those at BYU and close friends in Spain.

“The honor, deeply appreciated, is on one hand a gesture of friendship and shared values generously extended by Ambassador Dezcallar,” Rosenberg said. “On the other, it is a reflection of the strong reputation  BYU enjoys among international leaders.”

Alvin Sherman, chair of the Department of Portuguese and Spanish, has worked with Rosenberg since 1985 and said Rosenberg was deserving of the award.

“He is one individual who cares not only about the literature that he teaches, but also promoting the culture of Spain,” Sherman said.

At the ceremony, Dezcallar thanked Rosenberg for his work regarding the language and literature of Spain.

“Dr. Rosenberg has worked relentlessly for many years on improving Spanish educational and cultural relations here in the United States,” Dezcallar said. “We are extremely grateful for John’s contribution to the relationship between Spain and the United States, [and] we thank him for everything that he has done and continues to do.”

Rosenberg is no stranger to awards and honors. Since 2004, The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Rosenberg grants totaling more than $500,000 for a project titled Art and Literature in the Prado Museum. In 2007, his Introduction to Spanish Literature course was named one of the 25 Best World Language Courses at U.S. Colleges and Universities by the Educational Policy Improvement Center. He was also honored in 2007 by the Institute for Educational Inquiry of Seattle for advocating  initiatives to strengthen public education.

During the ceremony Dezcallar also praised Rosenberg for contributions at BYU, including finding construction material in Europe for the Joseph F. Smith Building courtyard and pushing for the creation of the Spanish Resource Center.

“It was he who made it possible for the relationship between the Spanish government and BYU to be extended to include the Utah State Office of Education, with whom we have a memorandum of understanding to develop all the programs of the Ministry of Education of Spain in the state,” Dezcallar said.

In 26 years at BYU Rosenberg said he has had many experiences with Spain but continues to look forward.

“My favorite memories of Spain are the ones yet to be made,” Rosenberg said.

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