Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences announces new department chairs

Dr. Martial K. Frindéthié, will chair Appalachian’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures effective March 1, 2020 and Dr. Saskia van de Gevel, will assume the role of department chair for Appalachian’s Department of Geography and Planning starting July 1, 2020.

“I am pleased that we are able to hire such great faculty to lead their respective departments. Both come with innovative ideas and leadership experience that will serve them well in their new positions,” said Neva J. Specht, dean, College of Arts and Sciences.

Frindéthié is a professor of Francophone/French languages, literatures and cultures and of visual studies. He joined Appalachian in 2004 after years of teaching at the University of Maryland and consulting at the State Department and the World Bank. He has served as interim chair of the Languages, Literatures and Cultures department for the last year.

 His research interests are in Francophone/French intellectual movements (postcolonial theories, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, schizoanalysis and feminist theories), film and media studies and the intersection of literature, contemporary literary theory and the political-ideological imagination.

Frindéthié’s has received two Fulbright fellowships, two Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic titles and four Richard T. Barker Friends of the University Library honors. As a Fulbright professor, he lectured at the Université de Bamako in Mali, the Teachers’ Training College of the Université de Nouakchott in Mauritania and the University of Mauritius.

He holds a B.A. in applied linguistics from the Université d’Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire, Africa, an M.A. in linguistics from Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota and a Ph.D. in culture studies and comparative literature from the University of Minnesota. Frindethie has published four books and several articles in his field.

Saskia van de Gevel joined the Appalachian State University faculty in 2008 and is currently a professor of Geography. She also serves as the Geography Steward of North Carolina through the National Geographic Society.

Her research interests are focused on endangered mountain forest ecosystems in eastern U.S. forests and high-elevation mountain ecosystems in the northern Rocky Mountains. She conducts research in the Department of Geography and Planning’sAppalachian Tree Ring Labalong with Dr. Pete Soulé , Dr. Mark Spond and undergraduate and graduate students pursuing tree-ring and biogeographical research interests.

Van de Gevel is a past recipient of the Board of Governors Appalachian State University Campus Excellence in Teaching Award. She has received grants through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Geographic Society for her research in biogeography and geography education.

Van de Gevel earned her B.S. in Forest Science from Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in Forest Ecology from Southern Illinois University and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Tennessee.

To learn more about the College of Arts and Sciences and its many departments spanning the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences, visit


About the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures offers courses that enhance students’ understanding of other cultures and languages as well as their own, making them prepared for lifelong learning in a multicultural world. Learn more at

About the Department of Geography and Planning
The Department of Geography and Planning promotes the understanding of the spatial dimensions of human behavior within the physical and cultural systems of the earth, and the role of planning in achieving improvement in those systems. The department offers degrees in geography and in community and regional planning. Learn more at

 By Ellen Gwin Burnette
Monday, April 6, 2020


Dr. Martial K. Frindenthie (left) and Dr. Saskia van de Gevel (right). Photos by Chase Reynolds.
Published: Apr 6, 2020 4:47pm