Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Michael Gillen


I have been passionate about translation since 1976 when, with great trepidation, I took on my first translation assignment under the watchful eye of a friend and mentor who was a prolific translator and interpreter of Russian-language scientific and technical materials. It was my introduction to the art of communicative, or ‘meaning-based,” translation, and from that moment on, I knew exactly what I wanted to do (I’ve always been sort of a late starter).

What excites me most being a professor at MIIS is how intelligent and dedicated to learning my students always are, which actually makes the job fun and relatively easy. My career at MIIS began in 1985 when I was invited by the head of the Institute’s Russian translation and interpretation program to deliver a course on technical translation, which resulted in translation acquiring a completely new dimension for me. Teaching at MIIS appealed to me not only because I needed to get out of the house more, but also because it was very difficult to find competent Russian translators to employ. I thought that perhaps this would be a way to begin alleviating the problem, presuming, of course, that I was any good at teaching translation. I was hooked from the very first class, as students seemed to appreciate my approach to teaching.

In fact, I enjoyed teaching so much I began taking on more and more work within the Russian program, eventually winning an appointment to the regular faculty in 1991. Although the Russian program was small and literally hanging by a thread, I believed that it had a great deal of potential, so I convinced my dean to appoint me as the program head by promising him that I would double enrollment in one year (there was only one new student in the program that year, so I thought it was a pretty safe bet). I served as the program head from 1992 to 2001 and again from 2004 to 2007, during which time the Russian program gained both national and international recognition.

In the mid-1990s, aware that translation technology was destined to play a critical role in translation, Professor Gillen spearheaded the effort to establish GSTILE’s translation technology curriculum and, in 1999, helped the Institute partner with Sun Microsystems to found the Globalization Research Center, serving as its director until 2004. From 2001 to 2004, he also served as GSTILE’s Director of Translation, during which time he laid the foundation for the MA in Translation and Localization Management. He has also promoted GSTILE’s unique approach to incorporating translation technology into its translation curriculum by consulting and giving presentations for organizations and institutions such as the Academy of Business and Banking in Russia, the Interagency Language Roundtable, the National Foreign Language Center, the American Translators Association, the Society of Automotive Engineers, Kent State University, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

For the past several years, Professor Gillen’s classroom teaching has been complemented by his duties as the project manager for the Translation and Interpretation Training Project (T&ITP), which provides intensive workshops on translation and interpretation to U.S. Government foreign-language professionals. And, of course, he still loves to translate and is currently working on a project to adapt a series of Russian animated fairy tales for international distribution.


Translation of Russian-language scientific and technical publications, particularly materials science and engineering; integration of translation technology into translation curricula


MBA, BA, Russian Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies

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