Faculty learned over Thanksgiving break that linguistics professor Alexandra “Misty” Jaffe died in her home Tuesday.
Jaffe, who was in her 50s, started her career at Long Beach State in 2001 and worked as both a professor and a department chair in linguistics. She has taught courses spanning from introductory linguistics to sociolinguistics and ethnography. Her main area of study was research on the ethnography of Corsica, a perspective she said she brought with her in teaching undergraduate linguistic courses, according to her staff page on the university website.
In response to the email blast about Jaffe’s death, faculty have shared words and memories about Jaffe.
“In the past few days, there has been an amazing flow of emails on the faculty listserv that attest to Misty’s rare character and commitment to her students and to the campus,” said associate professor of anthropology and linguistics Wendy Klein in an email. “Misty’s leadership skills, scholarship, and deep dedication to faculty governance and student wellbeing are unparalleled.”
Political science professor Mary Caputi worked with Jaffe on a retention, tenure and promotion committee. She said she will remember Jaffe’s intelligence and compassionate attitude.
“We worked on RTP at the college level, and Misty was a real work-horse and a pleasure to be with,” Caputi said in an email. “She was a very conscientious member of the committee and was thorough, thoughtful, and fair.”
Jaffe’s accomplishments include being the first recipient of the Edward Sapir Book Prize for her book “Ideologies in Action: Language Politics on Corsica.” She also served as an editor in chief of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
Klein recently worked on a project with Jaffe, the Long Beach Office of Equity and students in LBSU’s Language and Social Justice course in creating an ethnographic evaluation of the language access policies within the city government offices. Klein credits Misty for the project coming to fruition.
“Misty has been incredibly supportive of my own scholarship and teaching, and I’ve witnessed the valuable encouragement she has offered — and the opportunities she has created — for colleagues and students,” Klein said. “Her long-term research on Corsica and minority language revitalization along with her work on language diversity and sociolinguistics in education, has been an important source of intellectual inspiration for me.”
A memorial service for Jaffe will be held at the beginning of spring semester by the linguistics department and her family.