History of the Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Association

Established in 1951 as the Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference (MIFLC) (www.miflc.com), the Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Association (MIFLA) is an organization of teachers, scholars, and graduate students dedicated to the advancement of literary, linguistic, and pedagogical scholarship in foreign languages. It provides a forum for members to exchange ideas and advance the cause of teaching and research in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Today, the annual MIFLC draws approximately 200-250 academic professionals from the United States and abroad for a three-day program in October featuring nearly 70 sessions as well as other events, including workshops, plenary sessions, social gatherings, a banquet and book displays.

The first MIFLC took place on September 28-29, 1951 in Pikeville College (now the University of Pikeville), Kentucky. At its inception, the Conference included the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. By 1969, the Conference, which had started with a membership of approximately 40, had grown to 110 members with 35 universities and colleges represented.

In 1971, Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, hosted the Conference for the first time, and South Carolina was added to the original five states approved by the Constitution. Thirty universities and colleges were represented among the 93 paid registrants.

In 1974, with Dr. Gastón Fernández presiding, the Conference was hosted by Clemson University.   At this time, the association of MIFLC enjoyed more than 100 members, and there were 200 registered conference participants from 70 different colleges and universities. The main focus of the three-day program was the reading of over 100 papers on a variety of topics related to literature, language and teaching techniques in the field of foreign languages, both ancient and modern.

In 1976, the Conference reached new milestones with the presidency of Dr. Justo C. Ulloa of Virginia Tech University. This 26th annual meeting was held at the Continuing Education Center on Virginia Tech’s campus with almost 300 official registrants in attendance, representing approximately 100 colleges and universities in the United States and several universities abroad. The program mainly consisted of the reading of 175 papers on literature, linguistics and pedagogy, and one the highlights of the conference was, in addition to the memorable banquet, the music presented by W. James Glazebrook, violinist, and Kent A. Holliday, pianist. Dr. Emir Rodriguez Monegal, Professor of Yale University, gave his keynote address “Metamorphoses of Calibán.” Also during the Conference, Dr. Gastón Fernández Cárdenas was named MIFLC Secretary-Treasurer.

In 1977, during the presidency of Dr. Manuel L. Suárez, the Conference, held on the campus of East Tennessee University, reached new records with 335 official registrants, 237 papers read, and 45 working sessions. During the business meeting at this annual gathering, the need to reorganize the programs and procedures for selection of future sites for the conference was discussed.  Henceforth, the conference garnered continued success and the numbers of annual registrants stabilized.

In 1990, during the presidency of Dr. Leonor A. Ulloa of Radford University, the Executive Committee approved the president’s proposal to establish, develop and publish a scholarly journal that would become the primary vehicle for disseminating the best presentations from the annual MIFLC meetings. Today, MIFLC Review publishes critical studies on modern languages and literature as well as interdisciplinary, comparative, linguistic, and pedagogical essays based on works read at the conference.  MIFLC Review is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography and is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

In 1993, Dr. Leonor Ulloa designed MIFLC’s current logo, which was officially adopted for all future annual conference programs, and eventually approved as a registered trademark in 2019.  It was also determined at the 1993 business meeting that beginning with the 1994 annual conference, programs should be standardized, including an index with participants’ names in alphabetical order, names of institutions, and the inclusion of e-mail addresses.

In 1996, during the 46th meeting of MIFLC in Wilmington, NC, Dr. Justo Ulloa was named Assistant Secretary-Treasurer. In 1997, Dr. Terry Mount of UNC-Wilmington proposed to investigate the possibility of modifying the Constitution and Bylaws in order to include Georgia and Alabama as official states represented by the conference. MIFLC had grown since its inception, and many conference participants were representing these states.  Dr. Mount’s proposal was approved.

In 2005, at the 55th Annual Meeting, presided by Dr. M. Stanley Whitley and hosted by Wake Forest University in NC, Dr. Leonor A. Ulloa presented during the business meeting a project to amend and update the MIFLC Constitution and Bylaws. An ad hoc committee was nominated and approved with Dr. M. Stanley Whitley, Dr. Gastón Fernández, and Dr. Leonor A. Ulloa as members to revise and present a final draft version of the Constitutions and Bylaws for consideration at the 2006 MIFLC business annual meeting. The revised Constitution and Bylaws were approved during the MIFLC business meetings held in 2006 and 2007 at James Madison University and Virginia Tech, respectively.

In 2009, at the 59th Annual Business Meeting of MIFLC at Furman University in Greenville, SC, after many years of dedicated service, Gastón Fernández declined the nomination to continue as Secretary-Treasurer of the association, and Dr. Justo C. Ulloa was elected as Fernández’s successor, and Dr. Leonor A. Ulloa as Assistant Secretary Treasurer.

In 2015, Dr. Ronald Friis of Furman University was named Secretary-Treasurer, and in 2016 Dr. Jeremy Cass of Furman University became Editor of the MIFLC Review; Marianne Bessy, also of Furman, was appointed Assistant Secretary-Treasurer.

During the 65th annual conference of MIFLC at the College of Charleston, and under the leadership of President Mark P. Del Mastro, the inaugural electronic-only version of the conference program was made available and continued for future conferences.

At the Business Meeting of the 66th annual MIFLC held at James Madison University in October 2016, Dr. Mark P. Del Mastro of the College of Charleston, and member of the MIFLC Executive Committee, presented a completely revised Constitution for approval. This new document, as drafted by Del Mastro, combined the previous versions of the Constitution and Bylaws into one consolidated document that was approved unanimously and adopted that same month.  At this same meeting, and in light of numerous challenges related to the Leonor A. Ulloa Scholarship, Del Mastro proposed substituting this award with a new recognition: the Leonor and Justo Ulloa Award that would be granted annually to the best essay published in the MIFLC Review. The new award was approved, and in September 2018 the inaugural recipient was named: Julian W. Connolly of the University of Virginia.

During the Executive Committee Meeting of the 67th MIFLC at UNC-Wilmington, Del Mastro proposed changing the organization’s name from MIFLC to MIFLA (Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Association) to reinforce membership identity.  The Executive Committee approved conducting a related members survey, which was administered in January 2018, and subsequently at the Business Meeting of the 68th MIFLC at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on October 6, 2018, members in attendance unanimously approved the change in the organization’s name from MIFLC to MIFLA, while maintaining the name of the annual conference as MIFLC.

Following the nomination initiated by MIFLC’s President, Dr. Rudy Alcocer of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on January 1, 2018, Dr. Mark P. Del Mastro of the College of Charleston and Dr. Amanda Boomershine of the University of North Carolina Wilmington began appointments as Secretary-Treasurer and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer of MIFLA respectively.

Effective July 1, 2022, Dr. Katrina Heil of East Tennessee State University began her appointment as Secretary-Treasurer to succeed Del Mastro.