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The "Wolf Hollerbach Award" for Outstanding University World Language Educator. An award to honor an outstanding teacher of a language other than English at the college or university level. The nominee and the nominator both must be members of AFLA. The award is named in honor of Wolf Hollerbach, long-time French professor and teacher extraordinaire at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. The nominee should have taught at least five years.

THE WOLF HOLLERBACH AWARD ~ Outstanding University Faculty Member


Who was Wolf Hollerbach?

Dr. Wolf Hollerbach was my teacher, mentor, and friend from the first days I arrived in Fairbanks in 1969 to teach French at Ryan Junior High. Wolf was a demanding professor who made every effort to encourage the study of languages and to enrich and support world language teaching throughout the state, and not only at the University of Alaska Fairbanks but also in the public schools. He offered different upper division courses every semester in the evenings to accommodate teachers’ needs: in literature, culture, curriculum, and methods.

Wolf was born in 1935 in Cologne, Germany. Professor Emeritus at UAF, he was not only committed to his students but also reached out to K-12 world language classes and teachers giving workshops and class presentations. He advised the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District on introducing world languages at the elementary levels. He had the middle and high school teachers write course curricula even before the school district asked for them.

Wolf grew up in the difficult war and postwar years. He studied English, Romance languages and literatures, and attended universities in Germany, France, Britain and Spain. He and his wife, Christa, went to Cuenca University in Ecuador, where Wolf began a German program. In 1965, he came to UAF to teach French and Spanish. Between 1982-92, he also taught courses and workshops in curriculum and methods. In the 80s, he brought young assistants from France and Germany to work for one year helping UAF students and to gain a first-hand experience of American life.

After a serious illness, he retired from the university in 1993. He had also taught at universities in Germany, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. He published scholarly articles, a book on French syntax and a brief history of the teaching of foreign languages at UAF. He served as department chair for two years in Ecuador and five years in Alaska. He was active in national professional organizations, served on the board and as president of PNCFL, and was instrumental in reinvigorating AFLA, serving as President and life-long advisor. He was the instructor of record for the one-credit courses offered for six AFLA conferences.

Wolf loved to design and build things. Throughout his life, he was an avid hiker and swimmer and an enthusiastic photographer and traveler. He volunteered for the Literacy Council and served on his area’s road commission. His brilliant, concise mind was enhanced by his compassion and appreciation of what the world has and what it could be. We are all so fortunate to have had him in our educational work and in our lives.

He died April 27, 2009, at his home in Fairbanks. In memoriam, world language teachers are encouraged to support the UAF foundation created in his honor.

Because of Wolf’s legacy to AFLA, the AFLA Post-Secondary award has been named for him. He has been our foundation and our keystone. His dedication, persistence, foresight and leadership have been the principal factors in the evolution of AFLA from a three-hour-a-year group meeting into the broad-based statewide organization we have become. His accomplishments set an ideal for the rest of us to follow.

–Judy Tolbert 2014

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