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Remembering Professor Emeritus of Spanish Vance Savage

August 18, 2015

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Dear Colleagues,

I am sad to report the loss of a longtime colleague, Vance Savage, professor emeritus of Spanish and an influential leader of international education at Lewis & Clark. He died peacefully on August 4 in hospice care after a short hospital stay. 

Vance was educated at the University of Oregon, where he earned his bachelor’s (Phi Beta Kappa), master’s, and doctoral degrees in Spanish and romance languages. Prior to completing his Ph.D. in 1969, he worked for the United States Information Agency, spending a year in Lima, Peru as a cultural affairs attaché, then a year in Haiti as the director of the Haitian-American Institute and consul for Northern Haiti. He taught at both the University of Oregon and California State University, Hayward, before joining the Lewis & Clark faculty in 1969.

At Lewis & Clark, Vance played a leadership role within the Department of Foreign Languages and in the faculty at large. From 1981 to 1986, he served as associate dean of faculty. During that time, he also served as acting director of international programs, then director of international education. In 1986 he was named dean of international education and reported to the provost. In this capacity he oversaw Overseas and Off-Campus Programs, International Student Services, and the Institute for the Study of American Languages and Culture (now AES), as well as all aspects of international studies in the three schools. In 1991, Vance rejoined the teaching faculty. He retired from the college in 1996.

Professor Emerita Dinah Dodds recalls Vance “as one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever known. He genuinely cared about people and supported young faculty, like me. When I had my interview, he walked me through campus and told me that the way to get things done at a place like Lewis & Clark was through interpersonal relationships—advice I never forgot. He encouraged me to attend professional conferences as a way to get to know colleagues at other schools and to build useful contacts. He played volleyball regularly with Arleigh Dodson, Curt Keedy, Roger Nelson, and others, which was a way to get to know other faculty. He introduced departmental end-of-semester potlucks with international food and salsa dancing, another way of bringing faculty together. The potlucks continue to this day, but with no Vance to get us on our feet, the salsa dancing has long since disappeared.”

According to Dean Andy Rembert, Vance was an “unusually creative and efficient administrator,” one who exercised care and candor in equal measure. He was a strong budget manager and skillful planner. Registrar Emeritus Dell Smith observes, “Vance, with his strong organizational and leadership skills, built a solid foundation on which today’s program rests and he influenced the rise in the quality of the overall educational experience of faculty and students who participated in these programs. The number of faculty and students who have been positively influenced by Vance’s work is far greater than anyone realizes.” 

Dell reports that in retirement Vance and his wife, Jill, moved to La Grande, Oregon whlaere they devoted their time to raising, training, and riding horses and doing some farming. After several years and some health challenges, the physical requirements of the “horse ranch” were too much, so Vance and Jill moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico where they boarded their horses and reduced their hours of riding. After a few years in Las Cruces and the continued deterioration of Vance’s health, they moved to Omaha, Nebraska to be close to Jill’s family. Vance took his last ride on his favorite horse, Choco, in 2014.  

As ever,

Jane Atkinson

Vice President and Provost