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Jeannette Marie Ludwig, 68, UB professor of languages and religion

Sept. 29, 1949 – July 29, 2018

As people grow, they acquire positions, relationships and communities, but it would be difficult to match Jeannette Ludwig's diverse and expansive life resume.

Distinguished professor of languages, and first woman to serve as associate provost of undergraduate studies at the University at Buffalo.

Ordained elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Buddhist Zen Dharma Community in Buffalo.

Sought-after community speaker and owner of a vast collection of fabrics documenting her travels across the world.

Mrs. Ludwig died July 29 of colon cancer. She was 68.

Raised in Des Moines, Iowa, her love of travel began with a year as an exchange student in Sweden, where she became fluent in Swedish. She went on to Drake University, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and later earned a doctorate in romance linguistics at the University of Michigan.

A Rotary Foundation graduate scholarship allowed her to study in Strasbourg, France.

In 1977, she came to UB and, while teaching French linguistics courses, became director of the French Language Program instructing graduate teaching assistants in elementary and intermediate French.

She received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1980, the Didaskalos Award from the Campus Ministry Association in 1992 and, with her husband, Claude Welch, a SUNY distinguished service professor emeritus in political science, the Cardinal Newman Award for service to UB in 2015.

In the mid-1980s, she became the first woman to serve as associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Arts and Letters, now part of the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate vice provost for undergraduate studies.

Known for her work in revising the undergraduate curriculum, Dr. Ludwig took part in the creation of “American Pluralism,” a course focusing on gender, race, religion, class, and ethnicity in America.

In 1998, she began teaching comparative religion, Asian religions and Buddhism after earning a Master of Arts in Theology from Christ the King seminary in East Aurora. Eight years later, she co-chaired the organizing committee that helped bring the Dalai Lama to UB.

An active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Dr. Ludwig was eventually ordained as an elder. She also was instrumental in starting the Zen Dharma Community, a Buddhist group in Buffalo, and received a lay ordination known as jukai. Within her Zen community, she was known by the name Choho.

At home and at UB, her work spaces were often decorated with strong images and quotations, and she was known for the quilts, wall hangings and vestments she made from castoffs, including men's silk ties. She also made summer dresses from old tablecloths for her granddaughters.

Throughout her life, Dr. Ludwig loved to travel and, with her husband, spent time in India, Africa, France, China, Japan and Southeast Asia. The couple also taught in Singapore for a semester.

Her varied background made her a popular speaker in the community, including at the Chautauqua Institution and many Erie County senior centers.

In addition to her husband of 37 years, Dr. Ludwig is survived by a brother, Eric Ludwig; two sisters, Lisé Ludwig and Tru Ludwig; three stepchildren, Sarah Welch, Martha Dyer and Christopher Welch; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 29 in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave.

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