Professor Raymond Tourville had been a member of the NIU community for 42 years when he unexpectedly passed away in 2004, just months before his planned retirement.
He was extremely active in university life – as Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Coordinator of International House, Assistant Director of the Honors Program, and member of the Athletic Board, the Judicial Hearing Board, and the Advisory Council of the University Resources for Latinos.
Outside NIU, Ray was heavily involved with the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), the Illinois Foreign Language Teacher Association, and the Illinois State Board of Education. His enthusiastic promotion of French language, literature and culture led the French government to bestow the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academique upon him in 1993. This highly prestigious and coveted award was instituted by Napoleon to honor university members who had advanced the cause of French culture in the world. In 1996, Ray received the AATF National Teaching Award for best teacher at the post-secondary level.
Ray was an innovator as well. In 1972, he founded the Foreign Language Resident Program (FLRP), a residential learning experience that allows NIU students to immerse themselves in a foreign language as they live, eat, and interact with native speakers from different countries. This program was the first of its kind in the nation, and today, 38 years later, the program is still going strong at NIU with over 50 students participating in five languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish.
Ray also had impressive foresight in understanding the crucial role technology would play in learning foreign languages and cultures. He realized a dream in 1993 when he received a $500,000 grant to design and construct a state-of-the-art Multimedia Learning Center. When the Learning Center opened in 1998, it was one of only two facilities in the nation capable of streaming video (the other was at Disney). Even now, the LC offers the most advanced technology in language instruction. He is remembered, with appreciation, for his innovative thinking, passion for foreign languages, and commitment to the principles of a liberal-arts education.