Vice President for International Affairs Luisa Shu-Ying Chang was elected as a member of the prestigious Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) in April. Vice President Chang, who is a professor of Spanish literature at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was among the 17 Spanish-language scholars, only five of whom are women, from around the world to be selected as new foreign-born correspondent members. This year marks the first election of new members to the academy since 2009.
Chang is the first Chinese-speaking scholar to have been elected as a foreign-born correspondent member. The RAE comprises a maximum membership of 46 native-born Spanish nationals who also known as numerary members. New members are elected only after a member passes away. Meanwhile, foreign-born members, who are given the title as correspondent members, are permitted to participate in RAE plenary meetings concerning Spanish literature and language and make academic suggestions.
The selection process for the new correspondent members, took more than one and a half years to complete, and was carried out under the leadership of the RAE’s new director, Darío Villanueva. Candidates for membership must be recommended by three RAE members and undergo a rigorous process including a review, responses to queries, and voting. Since taking office, Villanueva has actively initiated academic reforms and pushed for the organization’s globalization.
Established three centuries ago, the RAE is the official royal academic organization whose mission it is to preserve and manage changes and additions to the Spanish language. Expanding beyond the borders of Spain, the academy is the leading institution of 23 other Spanish language academies of around the world. The RAE works to promote the Spanish language and its literature, translation, and research in accordance with its ultimate goal of maintaining the linguistic unity of the Spanish language across the Spanish-speaking world.
Vice President Chang received her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Spanish at Fu Jen Catholic University. In 1987, a Ministry of Education scholarship enabled her to continue her education at the Complutense University of Madrid, where she obtained a Ph.D in Spanish Literature. Chang hopes to use the honor in sharing her experience of studying, teaching, and conducting research in a foreign language to encourage students to learn the language as well as the culture.