Reprinted with permission - The Albuquerque Journal
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Argentine Scholar Dinko Cvitanovic Taught at UNM
By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
Dinko Cvitanovic, an Argentine scholar, left the repressive Juan Peron dictatorship in the 1970s for the opportunity to teach at the University of New Mexico.
Affectionately known as "Don Dinko" to staff and students, the popular professor taught Spanish American and Spanish peninsular literature.
Cvitanovic died Feb. 19 of a heart attack in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. He was 64.
Cvitanovic had a reputation as a highly approachable professor, said Marshall Nason, a former colleague.
"He was a very genial ... most approachable guy," Nason said. "When people found out he was gone, it was quite a shock ..."
He said Cvitanovic was "a dynamic teacher" who won the admiration of American and Mexican students alike because of his personal concern for them, along with his scholarly competence and spontaneous good humor.
Cvitanovic was a full professor at the Universidad del Sur in Bahia Blanca, several hundred miles south of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires.
Born in Croatia, Cvitanovic was a youngster when his parents moved the family to Argentina, Nason said.
He later earned a doctorate at the Universidad de Valladolid, Spain, followed by fellowships at the University of Louvain, Belgium, and at the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica in Madrid.
Most of his academic life was spent at the Universidad del Sur, where he achieved remarkable success in teaching, research and administrative functions, Nason said.
Cvitanovic was the principal investigator of Conicet, Argentina's council for scientific and technical research.
In 1973, the impact of the dictatorship so disrupted dedication to the humanities in Argentine universities that Cvitanovic accepted an appointment to UNM's Spanish department. He became a visiting professor of Spanish and Spanish-American letters, leading to full-time professor, Nason said.
"He was very dedicated to seeing his advanced students get to where they were going," Nason said. "Getting a doctorate in a language is a long process. He was right there with them and they knew it."
After the collapse of the Argentine dictatorship and the subsequent normalization of academic activity in Argentina, Cvitanovic returned to his homeland in 1980.
"The change in the political climate down there induced him to think he could be of use and service to his field and his country and he felt he ought to be there," he said of Cvitanovic's departure. "But it was a great disappointment to us."
His research and teaching, both at UNM and in Argentina spanned the literatures and cultures of Spain as well as Spanish America, Nason said. It may be seen, he said, in a number of his published works, including "De Berceo a Borges" and "Tierra y literatura."
Nason said Cvitanovic's death "represents a great setback for the study of Spanish-American and Iberian letters at his institution and others where his insights were fully recognized."
Survivors include his wife, Nilsa Alzola, and son, Gaston Mauricio, both of Bahia Blanca.
Copyright 2003 Albuquerque Journal