REEI joins the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures in mourning the deaths of Zita Dabars, Christina Illias, and, Shelley Scott each of whom was closely associated with the Slavic Department over many years.
IU Slavic Department alumna Zita Dabars (PhD, 1971) passed away on November 10, 2021. A major figure in US teaching of Russian at the pre-college level, she taught the language for many years at Friends School in Baltimore. Her lengthy service to the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) included a term as its Secretary and two terms as elected President, the first pre-college instructor to hold that office. She co-authored a number of important textbooks specifically designed to meet the needs of pre-college teachers and students of Russian. She played an instrumental role in the establishment of the ACTR National Russian Essay Contest, a long-running competition for both pre-college and post-secondary students. Zita’ career garnered her numerous awards, including the ACTR Service Award and the A. S. Pushkin Medal from the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (Международная ассоциация преподавателей русского языка и литературы). A loyal supporter of both the Slavic Department and REEI, Zita was a frequent presence at the IU Alumni Reception held at annual AAASS/ASEEES conventions. A detailed appreciation of Zita’s life and service, written by her long-time colleague Jane Shuffleton, appeared in The Fall 2021 ACTR Newsletter featured a tribute to Zita by her long-time colleague Jane Shuffleton.
Professor Christina Ioana Illias passed away in Bloomington, Indiana at the age of 77 on October 15, 2021. For nearly 30 years a mainstay of the Department of Classical Studies and the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, the two IU units which were fortunate enough to share her many talents, her dedication to teaching was legendary. REEI will remember her as the heart and soul of Romanian language studies at Indiana University. Appointed at a time of growing US interest in Eastern Europe and expanding opportunities for research and study in the area, Christina successfully guided numerous IU undergraduate and graduate students in their quest for proficiency in the Romanian language and culture of Romania. In the early 2000s, she took a leading role in developing links between IU and Romania, an effort that yielded many achievements, notably the creation of a Romanian Studies fellowship for IU graduate students with the financial support of the Romanian government. Author of several published works and literary translations and recipient of multiple “excellence in teaching” awards, Christina was also recognized with the Romanian National Order for “Faithful Service” in 2000 for her ongoing contributions to Romanian language, history and culture. More on her life can be found at this obituary and an article by IU faculty Maria Bucur (History) and Matt Christ (Classics) that appeared upon her retirement in the newsletter of the Department of Classical Studies.
Shelley Scott passed away at the Hospice House in Bloomington, Indiana on May 11, 2021. A graduate of both Bloomington High School and Indiana University (BS in Elementary Education), she worked on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University for more than 30 years, most of them in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, where she served as the department’s financial manager. Enormously devoted to the faculty and students of the department, for each of whom she always had a kind word, Shelley will also be remembered for the legendary departmental celebrations that she so cheerfully arranged. An online obituary can be found here.