In Memoriam: Kimberly L. Geeslin

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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.