Dr. Mel B. Yoken

After speaking with Dr. Mel B. Yoken for even a few minutes it becomes evident that his passion for all things French comes straight from his heart. His enthusiasm is contagious and his dedication is life-long. Dr. Yoken is known for his commitment to the culture of this region. It is his high sense of values and his generosity of spirit, combined with his respect of people's diverse backgrounds that have made him a role model.

Dr. Yoken has been teaching French to students at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth for the past 38 years. He has made such a positive impression on his students that one of them is now a colleague teaching in the French department where Dr. Yoken has earned the distinction of Chancellor Professor.

Dr. Yoken has voluntarily extended his academic responsibilities past the classroom, where he shares his wisdom with so many students as faculty advisor to the French Club, Table Française, and Canadian Studies Program.

Dr. Yoken's love for teaching French topics dates back to the late 1950s. Throughout the years, he has lectured nationally and internationally on some of his specialty subjects: Contemporary French and Quebec poetry, 20th Century French and Quebec novel/theatre, and 19th century French poetry.

Dr. Yoken brings distinction to UMD through his membership--and active participation-- in such professional organizations as: American Association Teachers of French, Mass. Foreign Language Association, Modern Foreign Language Association, Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, International Council for Canadian Studies, The French Library in Boston, and La Société Historique Franco-Americaine.

Dr. Yoken is proud to be the Director of the Boivin Center for French Language and Culture at UMD, which was created in 1985 thanks to a generous donation from the late Dr. Omer Boivin, a native of Fall River. Over the past five years, Dr. Yoken has enlightened audiences with a myriad of outstanding guest authors, entertainers and lecturers. His main motivation stems from The Center's mission to "promote the teaching, research, preservation, and appreciation of French language and culture."

Judging by the number of accolades bestowed upon Dr. Yoken, it is clear that both peers and luminaries value him. His honors include the prestigious "Medaille de Vermeil du Rayonnement de la Langue Française" from the French Academy; "Officer dans l'Ordre des Palmes academiques" from the French government; Robert Ludwig National Distinguished Leadership Award in Foreign Languages from the New York State Foreign Language Association; Mayoral citation for outstanding cultural achievements in Fall River; and Distinguished Alumnus Award from B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River. In addition, he has won several Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Dr. Yoken has had his biographical listing in 25 Who's Who volumes and other national, and international directories including Receuil biographique de la francophonie. Yoken has been quoted in numerous books and periodicals and takes great pride especially in being quoted by author George Seldes in his book The Great Thoughts, "These are thoughts, quotations and ideas that have determined the intellectual history of the world."

Dr. Yoken has had seven books published, as well as numerous essays and articles in French, Quebecois and American periodicals, journals and magazines. He has been interviewed by many bilingual print, radio and television journalists and now serves as a commentator on the Jean Caya Bancroft Radio Show. In addition, Dr. Yoken had the honor of interviewing many celebrities.

Dr. Yoken has given back to his community through his leadership roles in the American Field Service, Association Francophone de Fall River, Club Richelieu of Fall River, Ligue des Presidents, and by interviewing local Franco-Americans to document for future generations the impact these wonderful individuals have had on their community. He continues to serve as President of the University's Library Associates.

The Southcoast is truly fortunate to have a man of this stature and caliber living among us.