2022 UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Research, Creative Achievement & Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Awards

The Alumni Association Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award is presented to a faculty member who has engaged in a collaborative and sustained manner with community groups; has connected university outreach with community organizational goals; has furthered mutual productive relationships between the university and the community; and other activities that reflect excellence in engaged scholarship activities. 

Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award Diana Ruggiero

Diana Ruggiero, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of World Languages and Literatures

Dr. Diana Ruggiero is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Memphis (UofM) specializing in world languages for specific purposes (WLSP; Spanish focus) and community service learning. World Languages for Specific Purposes focuses on language classes with a theme: Medical, Commerce, Community Engagement, and Interpreting.

She is an engaged scholar recognized by her professional peers worldwide for her contributions to scholarship and teaching in WLSP and the Spanish language and culture; her current teaching and research focus is on WLSP pedagogy, Spanish for healthcare, and the Latinx Community in Memphis.

Ruggiero is the co-chair of the engaged scholarship faculty network, advocating for grants to empower faculty to connect with the local community and develop courses and research in this area.

Among the many Spanish for specific purposes courses, she developed and taught for the Department of World Language are Spanish for healthcare, commerce, and community engagement. Dr. Ruggiero teaches Spanish medical interpreting and translating, a prerequisite to obtaining the national certification for medical interpreting. Dr. Ruggiero's graduate course on teaching Spanish for specific purposes is a methodology course that prepares future language teachers to teach WLSP and Spanish for the professions.

Other research interests to date include Linguistics in healthcare, heritage language learners, cultural competence and intercultural sensitivity development, service-learning project design and assessment, Medical interpreting and body language, and issues and methods in WLSP L2 and heritage language learner pedagogy.

She serves the Latinx community in collaboration with local non-profit organizations, including as a Latino Memphis board member. In response to Covid-19 and social distancing measures, Dr. Ruggiero is actively developing, participating in, and supporting engaged scholarship initiatives (remote and face-to-face) focusing on the mental, emotional, and physical health needs of the local Latinx and other underserved populations of Memphis.

Dr. Ruggiero supports the Memphis Latinx population through translation and interpreting services, educational talks, workshops, materials, and support and discussion groups.

Dr. Ruggiero is the recipient of an American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Teacher of the Year Award (College Level), an American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in The Teaching of Culture, a UofM Strengthening Communities Capacity Building Grant, Early Career Award (College of Arts & Sciences) and the Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award (UofM) in recognition of her many contributions to research and teaching in the areas of WLSP and community service learning and Spanish language and culture. Dr. Ruggiero's study appears in the Cuadernos de ALDEEU, Revista Signos, Revista de lenguas para fines específicos, Journal of Languages for Specific Purposes, Global Business Languages, ADFL Bulletin, Hispania, and Latin American Music Review among other peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.

Her most recent book, published by Georgetown University Press, is about teaching world languages for specific purposes (WLSP) and its place and value within the landscape of higher education. It focused on ten years of curriculum development, teaching, and research experience in the field of WLSP and current best practices in the area.

It also provides post-secondary world language educators of all language teaching and educational backgrounds with practical strategies, teaching examples and materials, and resources for developing courses, lessons, and assignments in WLSP and community-service learning (CSL).

It is considered by language teachers an essential learning tool connecting the classroom and community in the teaching of WLSP.

Dr. Ruggiero received a $29997 Cycle 3 OER Grant OER for a Healthcare Interpreting Course Redesign. The primary purpose of the OER Grant Project is to increase equity in access to quality, no/low-cost educational materials. The Project is designed to increase success rates and improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students, including, but not limited to, students of color, first-generation college students, and economically disadvantaged students.