Who was Ermal Garinger?
Ermal Garinger was the Director of the University of Kansas Language Laboratories from 1965 until his retirement in 1987, when the unit was renamed the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center in his honor. Garinger received his B.S. in Education from Marion College in his hometown of Marion, Indiana in 1949. He received his Masters in Education from Ball State Teachers College in 1952. He supplemented the latter degree with subsequent coursework at Louisiana State University, the University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras) and the University of Kansas. Garinger's career was one singularly focused on expanding the study of foreign languages in the state of Kansas. It is only fitting, therefore, that our Center bears his name.
Garinger began the 1950's with a joint appointment as librarian and instructor of Spanish at Miltonvale College in Miltonvale, Kansas. This was followed by jobs in Kansas high schools in Glasco, Longford, and Sabetha. He began the 1960's as the head of the Foreign Languages Department at Campus High School in Wichita, and then moved on to a position teaching Spanish at Marion College, back in Indiana. He maintained close ties to Kansas during this time, however, by working as a Foreign Language Consultant for the Kansas Department of Education. In 1963 he returned to Kansas as an instructor of Spanish at the University of Wichita, only to take a job as Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Wyoming the following year.
In 1965, Garinger was hired as Director of the Language Laboratories at the University of Kansas and remained in this position until his retirement. In his twenty-two years as director, Garinger saw the lab from its beginnings in a temporary building behind Blake Hall through its move to its current location in Wescoe Hall. He assisted in the installation of much of the equipment used in Wescoe through the 1980's and 1990's, including the Sony 9000 language lab, which remained in 4068 Wescoe until 2005. Although he had built an impressive library of materials on reel-to-reel tapes, Garinger was among the first to recognize the expanded possibilities of cassette tapes as a means of individualized and at-home study.
While at KU, Garinger continued to serve the wider public by directing summer Spanish camps for high school students and teaching Spanish in adult education courses. He was a member of the Kansas Modern Foreign Language Advisory Panel for most of the 1960's and 1970's and editor of the Kansas Modern Language Bulletin from 1961-63 and 1970-78. Throughout his career he remained an active member of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), attending their yearly national conferences.We were quite fortunate to have Mr. Garinger stop by in March of 2004 to help sort through some old photos and tell us about the history of the lab in more detail; we were happy to find out that he was continuing his work in foreign languages by leading an adult education program in Spanish for his church.
Ermal Garinger passed away on November 19, 2010 at the age of 88. His legacy continues at the center that bears his name.