Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society of St. John's University,
is opened to college students on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
To honor those who attain excellence in the study of the Spanish language and in the study of the literature and culture of the Spanish-speaking peoples; to honor those who have made Hispanic contributions to modern culture better known in the English-speaking world; to encourage college and university students to acquire a greater interest in, and a deeper understanding of, Hispanic culture; and to foster friendly relations and mutual respect between the nations of Hispanic speech and those of English speech.
History of Epsilon Kappa at St. John´s
Epsilon Kappa, St. John's University's Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, was established on April 17, 1964. The purpose of the Society is to "foment a wider knowledge of, and a greater love for the Hispanic contributions to modern culture, to provide a nucleus for Spanish language students' activities, and to reward those who show special attainments and interests." It is open to college students on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The induction ceremony is held every spring semester. Epsilon Kappa has invited over the years some of the most important literary figures from both Spain and Latin America. To mention a few: Rafael Alberti, Fernando Arrabal, Camilo José Cela, Carmen Conde, José Donoso, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ana María Matute, Elena Poniatowska. Many of these guests were interviewed on television by its Moderator, Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian.
Epsilon Kappa has been recognized with a Merit Citation from the National Honor Society. It conducts Talleres literarios (Literary Workshops) on a monthly basis to incite the Hispanic community and the student body to join together and use Sigma Delta Pi as a forum for literary discussions and for reading their own creative works.
To publicize the poetry and prose of St. John's University honor students as well as the writings of young writers from the Hispanic community and from abroad, Epsilon Kappa launched its first literary journal “Entre Rascacielos” on October 26, 2001. Now in its 23rd volume, the journal is published twice a year, in October, during the Hispanic Heritage Month, and in April, the month dedicated to poetry. In recognition of the accomplishments made by Epsilon Kappa and in celebration of its 40th anniversary on the St. John’s Campus, a 500 page anthology of “Entre Rascacielos” came out in the Spring 2004.
Because of its long standing achievements in promoting Hispanic culture on and off campus, Epsilon Kappa was the recipient of The Ignacio and Sophie Galbis Award for the year 2000-2001. Its moderator was inducted into the order of Don Quixote on July 8, 2001, at the Triennial Assembly of Sigma Delta Pi, held in San Francisco. At the Triennial Assembly of Sigma Delta Pi, held in Acapulco in July 2004, its moderator was appointed Vice President for the Northeast and her Chapter received the Order of Octavio Paz.
Our Literary Journal "Entre Rascacielos
Department of Languages and Literatures
St. John’s University, Queens, New York
Director, Graduate Program in Spanish
Moderator, Epsilon Kappa
Vice President for the Northeast 2004 to 2016,
and reelected for the term 2016-2018)
A graduate from Columbia University, Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian is Professor of Spanish and Director of the Graduate Program in Spanish at St. John’s University, since 2008. (The Graduate Program in Spanish, established in 1935, when St. John’s still resided in Brooklyn, will be celebrating its 82 birthday in 2017.) Its BA/MA Program, created in
1980, was one of the first combined degrees at St. John’s University.
Dr. Gazarian is the moderator of Epsilon Kappa, St. John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, and has served as Vice President for the Northeast of the National Hispanic Honor Society from 2004 to 2010, 2010 to 2013, 2013 to 2016, and was reelected to serve another term.
She is a member of the PEN American Center, and, in that capacity, participates in the work of the committee promoting writing by prisoners. She also serves as a Collaborator of ANLE, the North American Academy of the Spanish Language. Since 1996, she is a member of the Administrative Committee of the Poet Laureate of the Borough of Queens.
Dr. Gazarian is the author of countless articles and 14 books, among them: Gabriela Mistral, la maestra de Elqui, 1973, 1992; Interviews with Latin American Writers, 1989, 1992; Interviews with Spanish Writers, 1991, 1992; Carmen Conde de viva voz (coauthored with Zenaida Gutiérrez-Vega), 1992; Fernando Rielo: un diálogo a tres voces, 1995, 2000, with a translation into English Fernando Rielo: A Dialogue with Three Voices, 2000; Ana María Matute: La voz del silencio, 1997; Retratos en palabras (A Collection of 25 interviews with some of the most famous literary figures from both Spain and Latin America), 2003; Henri Troyat, un artisan de la plume, 2003; and she is the editor of Entrerascacielos: Nueva York en nueve poetas, 1999 and Entrrascacielos / Amidst Skyscrapers, a bilingual anthology of Hispanic poets residing in the Greater New York area, 2000.
She is the founder and co-editor, with Mónica Sánchez Christopher, of Entre Rascacielos, the literary journal created in the fall of 2001 by the St. John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, which celebrated in the Spring of 2012 its tenth anniversary with a special bilingual edition (Volume 21) of the best poems written by St. John's students over the years. On that occasion, Dr. Gerardo Piña-Rosales, Director of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language and Honorary President of Sigma Delta Pi, wrote: "To publish a literary journal during these hard times is a true undertaking. To publish it for ten consecutive years, quite an accomplishment. To publish it in an American university, an illusion. To publish it with works written by students, a utopia. But Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, who is never undaunted, has accomplished such task."
She is also known for her television series of interviews on CBS and ABC, in cooporation with St. John’s University, with some of the most important figures from the Hispanic world. Among the 100 interviews on television, or published in books and journals, are those conducted with the following writers: Rafael Alberti, Isabel Allende, Fernando Arrabal, Juan Benet, Antonio Buero Vallejo, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, José Luis CastilloPuche, Camilo José Cela, Arturo Corcuera, Carmen Conde, José Donoso, Lidia Falcón, Carlos Fuentes, Isaac Goldemberg, Juan Goytisolo, Carmen Laforet, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ana María Matute, Eduardo Mitre, Rosa Montero, Vanessa Montfort, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Carlos Onetti, Justo Jorge Padrón, Raúl Pérez Torres, Gerardo Piña-Rosales, Elena Poniatowska, Antonio Porpetta, Fernando Rielo, Ernesto Sábato, José Luis Sampedro, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Francisco Umbral, Luisa Valenzuela, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Chiqui Vicioso.
Dr. Gazarian was awarded the Orden de Don Quijote by the National Honor Society at the Triennial Convention held in San Francisco on July 8, 2001. In 2002 she received from St.
John’s University the “St. Vincent de Paul Teacher-Scholar of Excellence Award.” In 2003, she was awarded the Encomienda de Alfonso X, el Sabio, one of the highest recognitions granted by the King of Spain. In 2004, she was granted from the Chilean Government “La Orden al Mérito ‘Gabriela Mistral” for her work as a scholar and a promoter of the works of the Chilean poet. She also received a Certificate of Special Recognition from the United States Congress and a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from the Government of Ecuador. She was appointed “Embajadora Cultural del Ecuador en Nueva York” by the Casa de la Cultura ‘Benjamín Carrión,’ Riobamba, Ecuador. In 2013, she was selected by the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.
As part of the Graduate Program in Spanish and as part of the Hispanic Honor Society, she has invited to St. John’s University some of the most important literary figures from the Hispanic world, such as Rafael Alberti, Camilo José Cela, Carmen Conde, José Donoso, Ana María Matute and Elena Poniatowska, giving students the opportunity to interact with them.
Dr. Gazarian has been invited to take part in numerous symposia, including UNESCO in Paris, the Ateneo and the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, the Chilean Embassy in Moscow, the Universidad de Chile and the Biblioteca Nacional of Chile, the Casa de la Cultura in Quito, the Casa de la Cultura in Lima, the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid, Paris, and New York, etc. Along the years, she has organized, as well, many symposia on Campus. Among them, Encounter with Women Writers; The Generation of 98; Beyond 92, with the participation of José Luis Sampedro, José Donoso, and John Wideman; Gabriela Mistral, from the Valley of Elqui to New York, a two–day conference, co-sponsored with Americas Society. In October 2016, she organized (October12-14) the three-day International Conference on Literature which brought to St. John’s University over 150 participants, who spoke in French, Spanish, English, Italian, and Portuguese on a variety of topics, related to both Spain and Latin America. Special emphasis was given to Gabriela Mistral, in celebration of the 70 year anniversary of her Nobel Prize for Literature, and Cervantes and Shakespeare, in their 400 anniversary of their death (1616-2016).
For her work as a teacher, writer, director, and promoter of Hispanic culture, she has received a number of distinctions, including the following:
1980 Special Commendation, presented by The Spanish Institute and The Edward Larocque Tinker Library, in New York, to WCB--TV “for its contribution to relations between Spain and the United States for the Series Contemporary Hispanic Fiction, hosted by Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, of St. John’s University.”
1981 Al Mérito Cultural, award presented by the Consul General of Spain in New York on behalf of the Spanish Government, “for her great dedication and personal contribution to the promotion of Hispanic culture in the United States.”
1985 The Distinguished Service Award, granted by the United Nations Association of the United States of America, “in appreciation of public service in promoting the nationwide observance of United Nations Day 1985.” Her collage on the 40th anniversary of the United Nations was made into a poster as part of the celebration.
1989 Appointed Vice President of Sigma Delta Pi, for the Northeast, “in recognition of her dedication to Hispanic Culture.”
1991 Citation of Honor from the Honorable Claire Shulman, President of the Borough of Queens, “in grateful recognition for her outstanding and fruitful career as a writer and educator.”
1997 Certificate of Special US Congressional Recognition, “for heroutstanding and invaluable service to the community.”
1998 Appointed Representative in the United States of the Fundación Premio Nobel Gabriela Mistral “for her constant and permanent dedication to promoting, through her valuable studies on Gabriela Mistral, the life and work of the Nobel Prize Poet
1998 Was invited as guest lecturer by the Fundación Camilo José Cela, Marqués de Iria Flavia, to participate in a cycle of courses on Camilo José Cela, the famous Spanish novelist, member of the Spanish Royal Academy and Nobel Prize Laureate. These courses were held in Iria Flavia, Spain in the summer of 1998.
1999 Was appointed Cultural Ambassador of Ecuador in New York by the Casa de la
Cultura Ecuatoriana “Benjamin Carrión”, as a “most worthy promoter of Latin American cultural unity.”
2000 Citation of Honor granted by the Honorable Claire Shulman, President of the
Borough of Queens, “in grateful recognition of your extraordinary work to promote knowledge and appreciation of the Spanish language and literature, as well as poetry created by twelve outstanding Hispanic poets living in the Greater New York.”
2000 Proclamation by the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana ‘Benjamín Carrión’, Quito,
“congratulating the author for her bilingual anthology, a work which foments a closer understanding within the Hispanic world and brings about a better knowledge of poetry.”
2000 Proclamation from the National Congress of the Republic of Ecuador “in recognition of your constant work to promote Hispanic cultural in the United States. Whereby it congratulates the autor of Entre Rascacielos / Amidst Skyscrapers for promoting Latin American poetry and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood among Hispanic countries.”
2000 Proclamation by the Governor of Chimborazo, Ecuador, stating that Marie-Lise Gazarian-Gautier should be commended for her work in bringing together in this anthology the poetic production of Hispanic authors; that her name should be known to future generations as the promoter of culture and brotherhood among Hispanic nations.”
2001 Epsilon Kappa, St. John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Hispanic Honor Society, was awarded the prestigious Ignacio and Sophie Galbis Award, in recognition of its long-standing achievements in promoting Hispanic culture on and off campus. On October 26, 2001, it launched its first issue of Entre Rascacielos, a literary journal that has brought together the creative works of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, all members of Sigma Delta Pi. The Journal’s first issue was dedicated to Angel Juarbe, a firefighter who died responding to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11. The guest speaker at the event was Dr. Antonio Garrido, Director of the Instituto Cervantes in New York and an Honorary Editor of the journal.
2001 Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, the Moderator of Epsilon Kappa, and for the past twelve years the National Vice President for the Northeast, was inducted into the Order of Don Quixote at the triennial National Convention, held on July 8, 2001, in San Francisco.
2001 She is the founder and co-editor, with Mónica Sánchez Christopher, of Entre Rascacielos, the literary journal created in the fall of 2001 by the St. John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi.
2002 She addressed the Convocation at St. John's University on September 3, 2002 as the Winner of the 2002 St. Vincent de Paul Teacher/Scholar Award, with the topic:
What Teaching Means to Me.
2003 Received the Order of Alfonso X el Sabio, one of Spain's highest recognitions, April 7, 2003.
2003 Epsilon Kappa, St. John's chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Spanish Honor Society, received the Merit Award for the fifth consecutive year.
2004 The special 411-page issue of "Entre Rascacielos,” the literary journal containing the works of our Graduate and Undergraduate students and alumni, was presented at the Instituto Cervantes, one of the most prestigious cultural centers in Manhattan, May 3, 2004.
2004 In February 2004, she was elected member of PEN American Center, where she serves on the Prison Writers Committee. In that capacity, every year she reads over 100 manuscripts written by prisoners from all over the US. PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest Human Rights organization and the oldest international literary organization.
2004 Was awarded the "Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit for Education and Culture" by the Chilean Government. H.E. Ambassador Oscar Fuentes presented the award in a special Ceremony held at the Consulate General of Chile in Manhattan, on April 7, 2004.
2004 Epsilon Kappa, St. John’s Chapter, received the Order of Octavio Paz "for its Commitment to Hispanic Culture and Literature," July 30, 2004.
2006 Was interviewed during two days at her home by Producciones "Entre Nos," about her recollections of Gabriela Mistral, the 1945 Nobel Prize Winner. The producer, from Puerto Rico, was making a documentary on the Chilean poet and invited her to participate in the film due to the fact that she had known Gabriela Mistral personally and written about her. This documentary won an EMMY Award in 2006.
2007 Has worked closely with the Office of the Borough President of Queens, serving as Liaison between the Administrative Committee of the Queens Poet Laureate and the Panel of Judges. This involved numerous meetings held either at Queens College or at Borough Hall and the reading of over 450 poems to come to the selection of Poet Laureate and 5 Honorable Mentions. During The Installation Ceremony of the fourth Poet Laureate, she was asked to speak about the history of poetry in the County of Queens, Borough Hall, May 4, 2007. Her text may be found on the Web Page of the Borough President of Queens, under Poet Laureate.
2008 Was invited to take part in the tribute to Gabriela Mistral which was held from April 7 to April 12, 2008 at the Biblioteca Nacional in Santiago de Chile. (Many unpublished manuscripts of Gabriela Mistral as well as photographs were on display during the whole month of April at the Biblioteca Nacional.) An authority on the works of Gabriela Mistral, she had the great privilege of knowing her personally. The title of her keynote address was: “Gabriela Mistral, tal como era.”
2010 Was appointed by Dean Jeffrey Fagen to the position of Director of the Master of Arts in Spanish on January 5, 2010, effective September 1st, 2008. Prior to that date, she had served as Coordinator of the Graduate Program.
2011 She received the City Council Citation whereby it was “Resolved, that as duly elected members of the New York City Council, we recognize that in Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, celebrating 50 years of dedication at St. John’s University, we have an outstanding citizen, one which is worthy of the esteem of both community and the great City of New York.” Signed by Peter F. Vallone Jr. on May 3, 2011.
2013 She received the “Outstanding Contribution to Hispanic Studies.” The award was presented on March 16 at the 40th Annual Gala of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.
2013 Was selected as one of the recipients of the award Women and Society 2013. This award, which recognizes women who have made a significant contribution to Hispanic culture through their strong leadership, skills and dedication, was presented at the Cervantes Institute in New York, in cooperation with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
2013 Invited as keynote speaker at the Casa de la Cultura, in Quito, Ecuador, in a tribute to Jorge
Carrera Andrade,” one of Ecuador’s foremost literary figures and diplomats. August 6, 2013.The event took place in the Biblioteca Nacional, in Quito. Was introduced by Ambassador Gonzalo Andrade and was presented the Merit Award.
2013 As part of the 50 anniversary of Epsilon Kappa, St John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Dr. Gazarian gave the keymote address at the Centro Español, in Manhatan, on November 15. The topic was Art and Literature and her experience in interviewing writers and artists.
2014 The 50 anniversary of Epsilon Kappa, St John’s Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, held on April 2, at Americas Society, in Manhattan. A tribute to Dr. Gazarian for her role as an interviewer of some of the most important literary figures during the past 50 years, she was introduced by Dr. Nicolás Toscano, former Chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures, and by Dr. Gerardo Piña-Rosales, Director of ANLE.
2015 Olga Mariella Bonilla, one of our most brilliant MA alumni, was accepted into the Ph.D. Program in Spanish at Stony Brook University and received the prestigious Burghardt Turner Fellowship Award.
2016 Andy Chang, one of our foremost Spanish students, who was also President of the Spanish Honor Society, was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in Spain (20162017).
2016 Miguel Valerio, an alumnus from our MA Program in Spanish, was granted the coveted Presidential Award by Ohio State University, where he is writing his PhD dissertation.
2016 Dr. Gazarian organized the three-day International Conference on Literature at St. John’s University, with the participation of 150 people from 27 countries, with their lectures conducted in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Administrators, Professors, alumni, and students, both Undergraduate and Graduate, were our in-house representatives. (October 12-14, 2016)