Auburn Home > Take 5 > Anna Gramberg

Anna Gramberg

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Anna Gramberg, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for the past six years, talks about her transition from a small island in the North Sea where she grew up, to Auburn, a place she knew she was destined to live. On Feb. 1, Dean Gramberg became a US citizen. To learn more about Dean Gramberg, please go to this link.

1. Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My grandmother. She was a very strong leader; she managed to go to school and get a degree when it wasn't common at all for women to go to school. She and her husband, they went through three downturns in their lives: the Depression, World War I and World War II. She picked up the pieces every time afterwards and she had her own business. It was a furniture store; then after WWII – when the economy picked up – she opened a hotel and ran it. My grandfather had nothing to do with it. And then when she got older, she trimmed it down to a bed and breakfast. She died at 80, on the job, always working. If I come close to what she was, then I'm very happy.

2. How did you become a dean?

There's training and there's motivation. Training doesn't always help you, though. A lot of it has to do with talent you discover in your life. I actually do have a degree in hotel management. I put myself through school in Germany, all the way through my PhD here in the US, all working in hotel management, so I have a lot of management experience and I love it. I got my master's in Germany and then went to Michigan State, the same school as Dr. Jay Gogue, and got my PhD in German with a concentration in business.

3. What brought you to Auburn?

As a kid, I saw Gone with the Wind and In the Heat of the Night, and there were these people in the middle of the night, sitting on the porch, sweating. I heard all the sounds of the crickets and the water rushing, and I thought that was the closest thing to paradise. So, when I was a toddler, I knew that's how I wanted to live. After my master's I made it over to the states. There was an exchange program at Michigan State, and so I came here as an exchange student. I started there, but I wasn't where I wanted to be weather-wise, so I headed to the southeast as soon as possible. Some of my colleagues here took me to Lake Martin, and it was in the 70s and in January, and I thought, 'Ok, Gone with the Wind, here I come!' I think the Southeast is great; the heat, the kudzu, the rivers – you know, to a German, this is exotic. It's great. In North Germany, it's often ice-cold, always windy and always grey.

4. What does it mean to you to become an American citizen?

The United States of America is still the country of opportunity. There are still people who come from othercountries, and that includes me, for this very purpose. There is such a large amount of freedom to succeed. I decided to become a citizen because I also want to engage more in the political process. In many ways,since I grew up in Germany, I offer a unique perspective by living in the United States. My perspective adds to the philosophical discussion and that's important to me. What it means to me now to be a citizen is that I no longer just passively enjoy this great country, but that I am now able to actively help to shape it.

5. What would your grandmother say to you now?

'Proud of you I are.'

Jan. 31, 2011