Sandra Freels received her Ph.D. in Russian Language and Literature from Stanford University in 1976 and joined the faculty of PSU in 1979. Her areas of specialty are Russian language, literature, and cultural history.
In the United States it is common to speak of lifelong learning. Professor Freels is a lifelong student of foreign languages. She began studying Spanish at age seven, took Latin in the sixth grade, and discovered the love of her life - Russian - while still in high school. In college, she majored in Russian, minored in German, and studied French on the side. She has taught Russian continuously since 1972.
Professor Freels' scholarly activities have always centered on student learning. In 1979, when she first came to PSU, there were very few textbooks for American students of Russian. Working with co-author Elena Lifschitz, Freels set out to develop materials for PSU's third-year Russian class. The result was Focus on Russian (John Wiley, 1991, 1996), the first of the new generation of proficiency-oriented textbooks of Russian. Freels' next textbook, The Golden Age (John Wiley, 1996), applied principles of language instruction to the teaching of nineteenth-century Russian literature. She currently is at work on Russian in Use (Yale University Press, in press), a textbook for advanced students of Russian. All of her books, which were created expressly for the students of Portland State University, have been widely adopted throughout the United States and abroad.
Freels' devotion to student learning has been recognized by students and colleagues alike. She has twice received PSU's Teaching and Learning with Technology Award: once in 1999 for her multimedia exploration of Russian cultural history ("A Thousand Years of Russian Culture") and again in 2001 for computer-based listening activities. In 2003, students selected her for the CLAS John Eliot Allen Outstanding Teacher Award, and in 1999, she received PSU's George Hoffman Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service.