Spotlight > Remembering Dr. Frank Arasanyin
Courtney Fawzi (‘12)
On Feb. 10, 2012, Frank Arasanyin lost his battle with colon cancer.
Born Oct. 10, 1954 at Afa, Okegbe, Ondo State, Nigeria, Arasanyin was the son of His Highness late Ezekiel O Arasanyin and Princess Salamotu Arasanyin nee Alilu.
Arasanyin, lover of knowledge, traveled and studied all over the world. After his initial schooling in Nigeria at the Local Authority (LA) Primary School Okeagbe and then Ajuwa Grammar School Okeagbe, he attended the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium where he obtained a B.A. in Germanic Philology/Literature in 1979. He then earned his M.A. in Germanic Philology/Comparative Literature and in 1986, Arasanyin moved to the United States to pursue his Ph.D degree in Linguistics at Northwestern University, Chicago. Five years later, in 1991, Arasanyin earned his M.L.S. in Library and Information Science with a specialization in Automation and Acquisition from Rutgers University. Later that same year, Arasanyin acted as the Lecturer and Director of Curriculum in Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Jos until he and his family moved to New Haven, CT. There, Arasanyin filled the position of Senior Lector in African American Studies and American and Ethnic Studies at Yale University. In 2001, Arasanyin then served as a member of the Writing and Linguistics department at Georgia Southern University. Finally, in 2010, he arrived at James Madison University as a professor, and in 2011, he became the director of the graduate program and chair of the curriculum committee.
The Writing, Rhetoric & Technical Communication (WRTC) staff and faculty contribute much of the new curriculum and its progress to Arasanyin.
Traci Zimmerman, an associate professor who worked closely with Arasanyin over the past summer, explained why he was so passionate about the curriculum.
“The thing that was great about Frank was that he had the skills to say, ‘This is the way we need to proceed, this is the way we’re going to organize this puppy.’ And what he then said was, ‘But I don’t know much about the material. I don’t know as much about these courses, I don’t know enough about the history, I don’t know enough about this area. I’m a linguist,’ he would say. ‘I’m a linguist, and I know how to organize this curriculum, but you guys have to help me with prioritizing and telling me what’s important’ … and it worked brilliantly! His whole thing was you don’t want to have motion with no movement. And that’s what I like, the idea that you don’t want a whole lot of motion and no movement … He was somebody you wanted to follow, somebody you could believe and respect.”
Ask around the WRTC department and you will hear nothing but fond memories of Arasanyin. Zimmerman’s favorite memory includes fellow professor, Michael Smith, stuffed in the trunk of Arasanyin’s car.
“We would work for like three hours in the summers twice a week, and then he would insist that we go to lunch,” said Zimmerman. “Which personally I did not want to do … but he would insist, in his friendly way, ‘No, no, no, you’re going to lunch, you’re going to lunch!’ And so he would put us all in his car — he even had Michael Smith in the trunk of his car — he piled us all in there and we would sit in there and act stupid, because he didn’t know where to go. And he would be like, ‘Where are we going? I want to get a steak. Somebody tell me where to drive.’ So, Michael Klein would usually be in the passenger seat, and he’d be like, ‘Ok, this is where we’re going.’ But in the meantime, grown men and women, that were stuffed in the car were doing things like, ‘Dad, we don’t wanna go there! We don’t wanna eat that!’ And he would just crack up. He would always have this crazy, just, joyful, sort of African music in his car, and we would all just be like, ‘Why don’t we have this in our cars?’ And it was like a party on wheels going to lunch.”
Arasanyin believed that building connections with co-workers was very important.
“He understood that we could work together, but we also had to be able to play together,” said Zimmerman. “He did everything big in the best possible way — not overdone but just hugely generous and warm. And it was just wonderful working with him.”