With the poetry of Hafiz and T.S. Eliot, a re-imagined show tune, and numerous moving tributes from colleagues and students, Concordia College celebrated the school’s beloved Vice Provost and Professor of English Dr. Mandana Nakhai. Dr. Nakhai is beginning a six-month sabbatical, and upon her return to Concordia will become the inaugural Thomas Green Chair Distinguished Professor of English and Dean of the Fellows Program.
With dual expertise in college composition as well as literature and critical theory, Dr. Nakhai has taught an array of courses in the English Program. She pioneered the establishment of Concordia’s Writing Center (since renamed the John Bahr Writing Center), developed the school’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program, and created writing-intensive courses that have set standards recognized across higher education.
At the celebration, colleague after colleague spoke of Dr. Nakhai’s dedication to her students, her influence on their own careers, her high standards for herself and her students, her talent for relationships, attention to detail, and impeccable personal style. A native Iranian, Dr. Nakhai has brought to the school a new awareness of non-Western literature, and an increased emphasis on the works of women.
When Concordia’s eighth president, Dr. Viji George, came to the podium, he spoke of her accomplishments through the prism of her personal qualities. “Mandana transforms lives one student at a time, shaping them through her essential niceness,” he said.
Current Concordia President Rev. Dr. John A. Nunes addressed Dr. Nakhai directly. Calling her “admired, adored, and respected,” he gave examples of her “amazing balance of gravity and levity,” and finally quoted one of her favorite poets, T.S. Eliot.
Dr. Nathalie Virgintino, Assistant Professor of English and Director of the John Bahr Writing Center, (who as a seventeen-year-old decided to enroll at Concordia after meeting Dr. Nakhai) presented her mentor with a leather notebook and Mont Blanc pen, citing Dr. Nakhai’s familiar exhortation to “always carry something to write with in case an idea pops up, especially when travelling.”
The entire Concordia community wishes Dr. Nakhai a safe and enriching sabbatical, and looks forward to her return in January 2019.