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Department Chairman Mourns Lost Colleagues

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The loss of so many students and teachers has had a profound effect on Virginia Tech's Foreign Language Department. Richard Shryock is head of that department, and he joins us now on the line. Good morning.

Professor RICHARD SHRYOCK (Department Chairman, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Virginia Tech): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Jamie Bishop was one of two language professors who was killed Monday. The other was a French professor. Tell us about her.

Prof. SHRYOCK: Yes. Her name is Jocelyne Couture-Nowak. And she worked for us for over five years now. And she's originally from Quebec. She was someone, too, just as - your previous report mentioned about Jamie being very passionate - Jocelyne was someone who was very passionate, too, about her teaching, about her students and about the French language. She's someone who was very well liked and respected by her colleagues and also by her students. I mean, I've not heard anything other than positive comments about her from students over the years.

And since this event, I've received numerous e-mails from former students praising her and talking about how much they will miss her. She's really someone who would just do whatever she could to try to find new and interesting ways to present material and communicate that passion to her students.

MONTAGNE: Professor Shryock, what are you telling students and faculty? And you, how are you moving forward?

Prof. SHRYOCK: Well, this has been extremely difficult. There's been actually so much going on here it's been a little bit difficult, for me at least, to sort of spend the time on trying to figure out too much of what has happened, in terms of how to respond to it personally. But we're trying to, in part, make sure that people have a chance to deal with their grief. We're having a counseling session tomorrow for the faculty and staff.

And, you know, in our department on the first day of classes, in those classes that were taught by the two instructors who died, we're going to be having grief counselors in the classroom that first day to try to smooth the transition a bit back toward some sense of normalcy.

MONTAGNE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Prof. SHRYOCK: You're very welcome.

MONTAGNE: Richard Shryock is the chair of Virginia Tech's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.