In Memoriam

Kimberly L. Geeslin

AAAL is saddened to share that longtime AAAL member Kimberly L. Geeslin (1971-2023) passed away unexpectedly in January at the age of 51. Kim was born May 13, 1971, in Stanford, California, to William and Eileen Brown Geeslin, and explained her delightful sociolects as a product of “being raised by Texans in New Hampshire.” Kim graduated with her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, where her father was Professor of mathematics, and she received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees (Hispanic Linguistics) from the University of Arizona. In the Fall of 1999, Kim joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University (IU) where she remained throughout her career. At IU, she won multiple career teaching awards, chaired more than 20 doctoral dissertations, and served in numerous impactful administrative and leadership positions within her department and across the university. Most recently, she was named Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs in December 2022 after serving as Associate Vice Provost for five years. 

Kim was a world-renowned scholar, specializing in research at the intersection of second language acquisition and sociolinguistics. She wrote nine books and over 85 article-length publications, gave dozens of keynote lectures and plenaries, and wrote several seminal state-of-the-field reviews that are and will remain canon for those researching Hispanic linguistics, sociolinguistics, and second language acquisition. Her leadership style was warm, inclusive, and unfailingly kind. She saw possible paths forward when others could not, identified needs and fiercely advocated for meaningful support systems, most notably for under supported and underrepresented colleagues, and demystified the bureaucracy of academia, returning it to a joyful and inspiring space to work. Kim modeled a new type of leadership— one where you could advance and lead and have hobbies and joy outside of work. She always asked about and was genuinely interested in how you were doing as a person, encouraged, and celebrated personal as well as professional wins, and frequently shared anecdotes from her non-academic sides of life, as well. 

Kim is survived by her husband of 30 years, Sean McGuire— whom she met during an undergraduate study abroad experience in Granada, Spain— their two teenage children, Logan, and Hayden; her mother, Eileen; her sister, Melissa; and her mother-in-law, Patty. 

Kim had been a member of AAAL since 1996, when she joined as a graduate student. At the annual conference, she was a frequent presenter in invited and competitive colloquia and papers. She always attended the presentations of colleagues as well as current and former students, provided razor-sharp and encouraging feedback (often with her signature hair tuck behind her ears), served as the voice of reason, inspiration, and humor in editorial board meetings, and caught up with former students turned friends over an IPA at the bar or during a treadmill run in the hotel gym. She will be remembered for her brilliance, but even more so for the incomparable way she connected and encouraged people, advocated for the creation of opportunities for junior and underrepresented scholars, was fully present with each person with whom she spoke, and brought out the best in everyone she met. 

Her colleagues and students are committed to honoring her legacy in the professional and personal realms. We invite you to share a memory of Kim here, and to join us in Portland for a run/walk in celebration of her life.

Bernard Dov Spolsky

The American Association for Applied Linguistics is deeply saddened to announce that Professor Bernard Dov Spolsky passed away on August 20, 2022. He was surrounded by family in Jerusalem. Our condolences go to the Spolsky, Amaru, Sterne, Thomas, and Wulkan families in this time of great loss. Bernard was a founding father and a seminal voice in several subfields of applied linguistics, including language policy, language testing, second language learning, sociolinguistics, and linguistic landscape. Born in New Zealand in 1932, he completed his BA and master’s degrees in New Zealand and went on to work as a high school teacher in Australia, and later received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Université de Montréal in Canada. He took his first academic position in 1961 as an Assistant Professor of Education at McGill University, also in Canada. In 1964, he moved to the United States for a position at Indiana University and eventually became Assistant, Associate, and then Full Professor at the University of New Mexico. In 1980, he relocated to Israel and became a Professor at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its Language Policy Research Center. With Professor Elana Shohamy of Tel Aviv University, he developed the first language education policy in Israel in 1996. With Professor Tamar Levin, also of Tel Aviv University, he conducted an exemplary 1998-2002 national study on academic achievement of immigrants in Israel. He frequently traveled internationally as consultant and researcher, spending many times as a visiting scholar in Washington DC at the National Foreign Language Center and collaborating with the Center for Applied Linguistics. He retired officially in 2000, and as Professor Emeritus at Bar-Ilan University he continued making vital contributions to the field, participating in projects and shaping ideas with his many writings. His contributions and achievements in language testing garnered him the Cambridge/ILTA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2005. All along his 22 years in retirement Professor Spolsky remained the prodigiously prolific and influential writer he always was. His most recent publications include the book The Languages of the Jews: A Sociolinguistic History (2014, with Cambridge University Press) and a study of the semiotics of public signage (2020, in Linguistic Landscape), and two more titles which appeared this year: a masterful discussion of individual language advocates and managers (2022, in Language Policy), and the important book Rethinking Language Policy (2022, with Edinburgh University Press). Professor Spolsky served the profession tirelessly, including as editor-in-chief of Applied Linguistics (1979-1986) and as co-founder, with Elana Shohamy, of Language Policy and first sole editor-in-chief of this journal (2002-2007). He was President of TESOL International Association (1978-1979) and ILTA, the International Association of Language Testers (1994-1995). He held several offices at AILA, the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée or International Association of Applied Linguistics. He also served AAAL most generously as Secretary Treasurer (1977-1980) and he was a regular presenter and attendee at the Annual Conference. He was a mentor, friend, and supporter to many AAAL members. Bernard Dov Spolsky was a visionary scholar, an engaged public intellectual, and an invaluable human being. He is sorely missed, and his legacy will live on.

Jan Blommaert

AAAL is saddened to hear of the passing of Jan Blommaert on January 7, 2021. Dr. Blommaert was Professor of Language, Culture and Globalization, and Director of the Babylon Center for the Study of Superdiversity, at Tilburg University. He was a frequent presenter at AAAL and a plenary speaker in 2008—and a friend, colleague, and mentor to many AAAL members. His Tilburg colleague Sjaak Kroon summarizes well the deep loss to our field: “Jan was an international powerhouse, a social activist and at the same time a good, committed, solidary and honest colleague, always willing to help, advise and cooperate but also always ready to contribute his questions, doubts, and critique – asked as well as unasked” (read the full announcement here). He is survived by his wife Pika, and his sons Frederik and Alexander. 

Maggie Reynolds

"The Linguistic Society of America has announced the death of Maggie Reynolds, who retired recently as Executive Director after 30 years of service. She also played an important the early days of AAAL. As founding secretary-treasurer, I depended on her advice in setting up the Association, and she helped us organize our annual meetings during the years when we were sheltered by the LSA. She was a warm and friendly person as well as an ideal and efficient professional in the running of academic societies and associations."
Bernard Spolsky

Dr. Kathryn Anne Davis

Dr. Kathryn Anne Davis passed away on Sunday, August 16, 2020.  She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on December 15, 1949, to Floyd Edward Davis Sr. and Marian Jernigan.  She was preceded in death by her parents.  She is survived by five siblings, including Karyl Marlow, Floyd Davis Jr., Karla Nyikes, Karyn Gandenberger, and Kenneth Davis, and numerous nieces and nephews.  Dr. Davis was an accomplished, innovative, and widely respected scholar whose work contributed to the educational and policy decisions made on behalf of language minority students.  She attended Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a B.A. degree in English and a teaching credential. She earned a masters degree in Linguistics at the University of Leeds and a PhD in Education at Stanford University.  As a high school teacher and university English instructor, she taught in the U.S., Luxembourg, and China. She began her career as a university professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware.  She joined the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mãnoa in 1992 where in addition to teaching, she directed the Center for Second Language Research and received several prestigious grants, including two Fulbright Fellowships. Her scholarship and teaching focused on the sociopolitical nature of language policies and language practices, particularly as it relates to enhancing the rights of language minority populations.  She published books, journal articles and chapters focused on multilingualism, language and gender, indigenous and immigrant language education, and transformative schooling.  She was among the first scholars to advocate for and articulate an engaged perspective on language policy and practice that is critical, collaborative and led by members of minority communities.  Dr. Davis is beloved by her many students who are continuing her work as they promote the rights of language minority populations throughout the world.  She retired from the University of Hawai‘i in 2017.

An intimate celebration of her life will take place in the fall.  Family and friends ask that donations in her memory be made to the UH Mānoa Mauiakama Summer Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (contact: or the Dolores Huerta Foundation (

In closing, the following is a tribute to Dr. Davis, written by Laiana Wong, who benefitted greatly from her mentoring while he was a junior faculty member at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Luʻuluʻu Mānoa i ka ua nui
Welo ke aloha i ka ʻōnohi
Aia ka helena o ka hoapili
Ke ala o ke kino o ka hoʻi ʻole mai
Aloha ē! Aloha ē!