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Mike Tueller named new director of ASU School of International Letters and Cultures

Portrait of ASU Professor Mike Tueller.

Mike Tueller, a longtime professor at Arizona State University, is the new director of the School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

July 19, 2023

Mike Tueller, a longtime professor at Arizona State University, is the new director of the School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

It was always a dream for Tueller to get into teaching. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, he served four years as an officer in the United States Navy, spending most of his service in Puerto Rico.

Upon completing his service, he returned to Harvard to complete his doctoral degree in classic philology in 2003 and then taught at Brigham Young University.

Then in 2008, Tueller joined the faculty at ASU, teaching ancient Greek language and culture.

Now, 15 years later, he is the school’s latest director, after spending the past year as interim director.

“This is a great unit; it is diverse well beyond what we usually mean when we say that. I’m flattered that the university, The College and the faculty in the unit see me as the person that can connect with all the different voices in our unit and that they trust me to lead the unit,” Tueller said.

“I’ve been at ASU for 15 years now, and what has kept me going is the great people we have here. The faculty are amazing to work with and the students are eager to learn. It’s a fantastic environment with a lot of great people.”

ASU News checked in with Tueller to learn more about his new role and the work he's passionate about.

Editor's note: Answers may have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How did your past year in the interim role help prepare you to take over as director?

Answer: It was important to me to get the support of the faculty and professors in the unit. I spent a lot of that time connecting with them, asking them what things were important to them and what direction they wanted to see the unit go. I want to ensure I channel rather than impose on their ideas.

Q: What sets the School of International Letters and Cultures apart?

A: We have an interesting combination here in the School of International Letters and Cultures. There are people who not only study different languages and cultures but also study linguistics, cultures and languages in a scientific or statistical manner, study literature or take language teaching programs. There is a lot of creative and innovative work being done here.

Q: What excites you most about the future of the school?

A: The way we are expanding, or at least hoping to expand, to meet the needs of the students. As we think about expanding our reach, we want to increase our presence in the online space and reach those online students in a way that can’t be done elsewhere. We also want to expand our language offerings and make more opportunities available to those looking for them.

Q: Why is learning other languages and cultures important?

A: Firstly, from an individual perspective, it sets you apart from others regarding job searches and applications. Speaking another language stands out to employers for a number of reasons — the biggest being if that company happens to do business with people in France and you speak French, that is a huge advantage. Then in a broader sense, an overall understanding of different languages and cultures is good for society. It gives people background on important dates and events in our history as a world and really shines a light on the different perspectives.

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