Transy Spanish Professor Retires: ¡Buena Suerte Veronica Dean-Thacker!

Dr. Veronica Dean-Thacker pictured bottom row, center in Transy's 1998 Yearbook

After thirty-seven years in higher education, Transy’s beloved Spanish professor Dr. Veronica Dean-Thacker is retiring at the end of this academic year. Throughout her career, she has presented published works at nearly thirty conferences, spoken at lectures within her field, and much more. 

A New York native, Dean-Thacker moved to Lexington to complete her doctoral studies at the University of Kentucky. “I sent eight applications out and I decided the first one to answer me was the one I needed to go. It was UK, and that was it.”

It was at a literature conference that she was approached by Transylvania professors about a position here. Thank you to those previous faculty members for spotting VDT! After a few years of teaching at Ohio State University, she said coming onto Transy’s campus felt much more like a community. 

Dean-Thacker attributes her love of languages to her high school Spanish teacher. “I took Latin and Spanish. It was a Catholic school and she was a nun, she was fabulous. She loved everything Spanish. She really got us talking early on and I stuck with it.” 

One could say she did more than just stick with it. In her undergraduate studies, she took French, Arabic, German, and Spanish. “Eventually, the classes started to conflict and I had to choose. I chose Spanish.” Her fondness for teaching grew during this time, too.

Since she was so well-versed in foreign languages, Dean-Thacker was given a job teaching English to non-English language students at twenty years old. “I had students from all over the world, and I had to teach them English. I loved the teaching so that’s probably what did it.”

Dr. Veronica Dean-Thacker pictured in Transy’s 2008 Yearbook.

Dean-Thacker emphasized that teaching and learning are closely linked. “I think the whole educational process is exciting because we know quite a bit about our field, but there’s always so much more to know.” She has actively sought out this new knowledge with countless trips to Spain. When asked to give a roundabout estimate of times she has been, she said “Every year and sometimes twice. Every once in a while, three times a year depending on work. Probably upwards of forty-five, fifty times.” 

During her visits to Spain, VDT credited the administrative support for allowing her to present papers and do research which has been “the best experience.” For VDT, one of the best parts of being a professor at Transy has been the support. “I think what stands out, really stands out, is the administration’s support of my work which allowed me to go to Spain so many times to make connections which now my colleagues have.” The most recent lecture was last December, titled “The Literary and Artistic Legacy of Asensio Saez García” in La Unión, Spain. Dean-Thacker will be traveling back to Spain in a few weeks with Dr. David Kaufman for their May Term course “Cultures of Southern Spain–Medieval and Contemporary Convivencia.

Teaching is more than rewarding for Dean-Thacker; it is a privilege. “We have this wonderful existence here where we can continue to learn. We learn a lot on our own, doing our own research, but we also learn a lot from students.” She mentioned how she has an envelope full of letters that previous students have sent. “It just shows me what good people we have at this school. The wonderful letters about what they’re doing in their life, how they’re using their Transy education, always wanting to get back together.”

“I feel blessed here,” Dean-Thacker emphasized.

Humanities Division Chair and professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature, Dr. Jeremy Paden said “Certainly, Veronica will be missed. Veronica has been a great encourager of Spanish, bringing in students and encouraging them to go into the major. She will very much be missed. Her laugh will be missed. I think that her thirty-seven years of teaching here has laid the groundwork for us all in the Spanish program.”

On what awaits her after retirement, she offered a peek into her plans saying “I will be translating some of Antonio Pereira’s short stories into English. But, I also am going to take a course to be able to interpret for the Hispanic population in hospitals in Lexington. I want to help the community. I also have three adorable grandchildren who live in D.C. I don’t get to see them as much, so I’ll get to see them more.”