Remembering Dr. Kristiaan Aercke (1959-2020)

An educator’s greatest legacy is the lasting impact he leaves on his students. Dr. Kristiaan Aercke did just that.

Dr. Aercke was an associate professor of cultural studies, English and comparative literature in the Department of English. Before joining LAU in 1994, he was an assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But for his students, he was more than a professor, he was a mentor, first and foremost. His uncompromising objective was for students to be inspired and to appreciate the complex concepts of literature. 

He was a firm believer in active learning, and worked relentlessly to revitalize the English program and adopted creative teaching methods in his courses.

Outside the classroom, Dr. Aercke was active in campus life, championing a number of events to engage all students and to show them “literature is not boring. Literature is alive.” He co-organized the annual Literature Day event, served as faculty coordinator of the Student Reading Club “The Page Turners”, was a member of the Campus Student Life Council, and co-initiated the annual poetry competition for university students.

During his time at LAU, he occupied a number of administrative positions including chair of the departments of English and Humanities, faculty senator, coordinator of the BA in English Program, member of the ad-hoc Committee to review English literature Liberal Arts Curriculum (LAC) courses for LAS, advisor to all English majors, and member of the School of Arts & Sciences Advisory Council and Administrative and Planning Council. He also served as director of MA Theses in Comparative Literature and was a member of MA Theses Committees in Comparative Literature.

Dr. Aercke is acknowledged for his dedication and achievements in developing courses, curricula and programs. He designed new courses ENG 211 Literature I and ENG 212 Literature II, which have become staples of the LAC curriculum required of all LAU students. He introduced a number of language courses including beginning German, Spanish and Latin, and encouraged the introduction of beginning Italian and Chinese language courses. As chair of the Humanities Department, he staunchly supported and oversaw the creation of the LAU Writing Center.

He also oversaw the creation of the BA programs in History and Philosophy, and initiated the creation of a Minor in Creative Writing. Recognizing the needs of non-English majors, he created special late afternoon Remedial English sections for MBA students in coordination with the School of Business.

Colleagues, students and alumni, shocked by his death, have conjured fond memories, endless discussions about literature and Lebanon over his exquisite tea collection, journeys of mentorship, first encounters, and last walks.

Rest in peace Dr. Aercke.