Phyllis Perrin Wilcox
Perrin Wilcox is a professor in the Department of Linguistics.

A special symposium is being held for Professor of Linguistics, Phyllis Perrin Wilcox, on Sunday, Sept. 13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in SUB Ballroom A. The event pays tribute to her 44 years of teaching, research and service to the University of New Mexico. Registration is required. 

Wilcox was the first instructor of American Sign Language (ASL) at UNM, at a time when most people did not realize that ASL was a language. She went on to establish UNM's Signed Language Interpreting Program, one of the first Bachelors level preparation programs, and currently one of only 12 Bachelor’s programs to be nationally accredited.

We estimate that over 26,000 people have taken a class in ASL since Wilcox began teaching at UNM. Her book, Metaphor in American Sign Language, unpacks the visual beauty of ASL to reveal the complexity of cognitive structures that orchestrate the relationships between form and meaning in signed languages.

The morning session takes place from 9 a.m. to noon and features well-known scholars from across the nation who will discuss ASL linguistics, metaphor in signed and spoken languages and the ethics of interpreting. Attendees will earn .3 RID Continuing Education units. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at ling.unm.edu/WilcoxSymposium.

The afternoon session is from 1:30 – 3 p.m. and encompasses several more invited presenters as well as brief comments by friends and colleagues of Wilcox. Tickets for this session and the reception which follows are available free of charge, but require registration, also at ling.unm.edu/WilcoxSymposium

“Professor Wilcox has been instrumental in changing the intellectual landscape of New Mexico,” said Professor Jill Morford, chair of the Department of Linguistics. “Without her influence, we would know much less about signed languages, and our conversations would lack the unique perspectives of our deaf colleagues, who have the most intimate knowledge of signed languages. By pushing the state and the university to make interpreter training a priority, Phyllis has created opportunities for deaf students and faculty to join in the debate. Anyone who attends the symposium will realize just how much there is to gain by opening our ears – and our eyes – to all perspectives.”

Registration deadline is Monday, Sept. 7.

Free parking is available in Lots A and B on UNM main campus.