German professor recognized by AATG’s Virginia chapter

| November 7, 2012

The Virginia chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German has created the “Ronald Horwege Award of Outstanding Service” in honor of a revered Sweet Briar professor.

The award will be given annually to someone “for outstanding performance and dedication to the profession,” said AATG board member Dirk Johnson, who is chair of modern languages at Hampden-Sydney College.

Ron Horwege has been teaching at Sweet Briar since 1971.

Horwege, a professor at Sweet Briar for 41 years, also was chosen unanimously by the chapter’s board to be the first recipient of the award.

The recognition is bittersweet for Horwege, who has spent much of his career promoting the German language at Sweet Briar and beyond. It comes after the College announced last spring that it will no longer provide German as a major or course offering on campus.

Despite Horwege being a fixture in the academic community, he was not expecting such an honor.

“I have always enjoyed working with my German colleagues and I know that they have appreciated everything I have done with them and for them,” Horwege said. “But I was still surprised to receive such a significant token of this appreciation. It is a nice cap to my work in the profession.”

Horwege’s career began in 1966, when he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas with a double major in German and history. While there he spent his junior year at the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität in Bonn, Germany, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Phi Alpha (German honor society) and Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society). He pursued his graduate work at Indiana University, where he received his master’s in Germanic linguistics in 1968 and his Ph.D. in Germanic linguistics with minors in German literature and Scandinavian studies in 1971. Much of his research was completed at the Freie Universität Berlin during the 1969-1970 academic year.

Horwege came to Sweet Briar College in 1971 and has been in charge of the German program ever since. In 1983, he initiated the exchange program with the University of Heidelberg and six years later, he entered into a partnership with Vassar College and the College of William and Mary in managing the Summer Program in Münster, spending several summers there with the program.

Horwege has served four terms as president of the Virginia chapter of the AATG and has also been president of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia. In 1999 he founded a chapter of Delta Phi Alpha at Sweet Briar and has served as the national president of this organization since 2008. From 1992 to 2010, Horwege was in charge of an annual Immersion Weekend for German Teachers at the College, and for the past eight years he has organized and managed a weeklong summer seminar for German teachers, also at Sweet Briar. He worked for several years as the German program coordinator for the Center for Liberal Arts at the University of Virginia. His last annual statewide workshop for German teachers was held in 2011.

Horwege has received many awards for his work, including a Certificate of Merit from the AATG and the Goethe-Institut and the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, both in 2003. In 2004 he was the recipient of the first Cameron Fellowship awarded by Sweet Briar College.

Horwege still has two more years to go before the German program is phased out, but he’s already making plans. Not surprisingly, those plans don’t include retiring from German altogether.

“I actually look forward to some yard work, a lot of travel and also finding some way to continue working with German through some study and research in pursuit of my own interests and through continued work in the professional organizations,” he said. “I will also look for more volunteer work, perhaps working with illiteracy.”


Janika Carey



Category: Modern Languages and Literatures