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.
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.
2. How did you become a dean?
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.
3. What brought you to Auburn?
4. What does it mean to you to become an American citizen?