David Prestel Leaves Lasting Legacy as Senior Associate Dean

This month, David Prestel, who served as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration for the College of Arts & Letters for the past four years, moved out of Linton Hall and into a new phase of his career. His last day as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration was August 15.

Prestel will continue to serve as a Professor of Russian, Co-Director of the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA), and as a member of the Executive Planning Committee for the School of Language Sciences & Literary and Cultural Studies.

“I am very happy and privileged to have served as an administrator in the College as long as I have,” Prestel said. “I have enjoyed my positions here, but in my 20 years of administration, I realize there’s a time to step back. I am very encouraged by the new leadership in the College. Having someone like Chris come from outside MSU with new ideas has been a wonderful experience for the College.”

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David Prestel


Prestel came to Michigan State University in 1983 as an Assistant Professor of Russian in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1990 and became a full Professor in 2000.

He took his first administrative position at MSU when he served as Acting Director of the Center for European and Russian Studies (International Studies and Programs) in 1995. He went on to serve in the College of Arts & Letters as Associate Chair of the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages (LingLang), and then Acting Chair of that Department from 1997-1998, and for 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, served as Chair of the LingLang Department.

Prestel was appointed Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration in 2013. Prior to that, he was Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship from 2010 to 2013, and Acting Associate Dean for Research and Administration from 2009 to 2010.

Since 2010, there have been 479 research proposals submitted by the College of Arts & Letters for external funding with a total of $22,638,090 grants awarded.

On behalf of the College of Arts & Letters, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Prestel for his tireless dedication and outstanding leadership as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration.

Dean Christoper p. Long

“I appreciate the opportunities I have been given in the College and in the Department,” Prestel said. “I’ve had the privilege of working under two dedicated department chairs and three excellent deans. I greatly appreciate each one of them and have learned a great deal from all of them. I also have enjoyed working with people in the University administration who I have great respect for. In addition, I have very much enjoyed working with the many outstanding faculty members we have in the College. It has been an excellent learning experience.”

The College of Arts & Letters has changed a lot since 1983 when Prestel first came to MSU. Among the many changes, Prestel says he has seen a greater interest in interdisciplinary scholarship as well as an expanded emphasis on sponsored research and external grants.

“There have been a number of excellent hires of junior faculty, who are working in areas that are more interdisciplinary than before and are expanding the reach of the College,” he said.

I appreciate the opportunities I have been given in the College and in the Department.

David Prestel

Prestel earned his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Michigan and conducted dissertation research at Leningrad State University in Leningrad, USSR (now Saint Petersburg State University in Saint Petersburg, Russia).

Now that he is returning to the faculty, Prestel said he is looking forward to having more time to devote to his research in early Slavic studies. He has primarily published in areas of language pedagogy and early Slavic studies. During his career, he has participated in external research grants totaling more than $2.4 million in funding.

“On behalf of the College of Arts & Letters, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Prestel for his tireless dedication and outstanding leadership as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “David’s unwavering integrity, his conscientious mentoring, and his tireless commitment to our educational mission, have elevated the College of Arts & Letters and Michigan State University in substantive ways. We will miss him in the Dean’s Office, but look forward to his continued leadership and guidance as he enters this new phase in his career.” 

Prestel and Susan Gass, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, currently serve as Co-Directors of CeLTA, a position Prestel has held since 2008. Both Prestel and Gass plan to step down as CeLTA Co-Directors in June 2018. A search is currently underway to find their replacement.

New Appointments

Prestel’s former responsibilities as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Administration are now shared by Sonja Fritzsche, Associate Dean for Personnel, Administration, and Undergraduate Education, and Bill Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education.

Fritzsche, Professor of German, was appointment half-time as Associate Dean for Personnel, Administration, and Undergraduate Education effective January 1, 2017. She continued as Chair of the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages until August 15, 2017, when she took on the Associate Dean role full-time. Jason Merrill, Professor of Russian, now takes over as Interim Chair of the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages. Merrill’s 12-month appointment is effective August 16, 2017, through August 15, 2018.

In her new role as Associate Dean for Personnel, Administration, and Undergraduate Education, Fritzsche serves as a central administrative resource for department chairs and program directors in the College. She also provides support and guidance to College administrators as they handle issues regarding personnel resources and space and prepares background materials for personnel matters for the Dean, including tenure and promotion materials. In addition, she oversees curricular initiatives in the College at the undergraduate level.

Hart-Davidson, who previously served as Associate Dean for Graduate Education for the College, adds “Research” to his title as he was appointed Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, effective August 16, 2017. He now oversees all activities associated with research and graduate education in the College of Arts & Letters.