Marquette University mourns the loss of Dr. Todd Hernández

Marquette University mourns the loss of Dr. Todd Hernández, beloved professor of Spanish and applied linguistics in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, who passed away yesterday.

“Todd was a colleague and a teacher whom everyone loved, not just liked,” said Eugenia Afinoguénova, Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “His wisdom, quiet and supportive demeanor, and his ability to see through complex situations made him an unrivaled professional who never lost that human touch. He introduced generations of students to research on language acquisition and pragmatics and led the department’s most momentous initiatives, from study abroad to facilitating heritage and non-heritage learners’ collaborations in Spanish classes, to teaching on the transnational cultures of soccer. He will be sorely missed and impossible to replace.”

Todd joined the Marquette faculty in 2004. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and became a full professor in 2019. Between 2018 and 2021, he codirected the MA/ADP Program in Spanish. An expert in language teaching methodology, Todd shaped practice-based and theoretically informed pedagogies in Wisconsin and beyond. He earned national prominence as a member of the Finance Committee of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and was a key participant in discussions on assessment and study abroad. His work and publications on these topics became a staple of linguistics and teacher preparation programs across the United States. In this capacity, Todd also actively participated in the teacher preparation program in Marquette’s College of Education.

“An expert in Spanish Second Language Acquisition, Todd was instrumental in our language and culture programs,” said Heidi Bostic, dean of the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “He also served as coordinator for all first- and second-year Spanish language courses, a crucial and complex job. Student evaluations of his teaching demonstrate that he was a beloved professor. It was not uncommon to read comments from students who thought he was the best instructor they’d ever had. He knew how to both challenge and support everyone in his classes, exactly what we seek to do in fostering student success.”

Todd is survived by his wife, Paola (professor of Spanish and theater, UW-Madison), and daughters Camila (NYU Grossman School of Medicine) and Sofia (a Marquette junior), as well as Todd’s parents, Ralph Hernández and Linda Shimoda, and his sister Kari Hernández Hale.

On Friday, April 28, at 4 p.m. in the main atrium of Lalumiere Language Hall (“mall” entrance), the department will host a candlelight vigil for students and all members of the Marquette community. Todd’s parents plan to attend. Everyone is invited.

Should there be plans for a further memorial service, details will be shared in Marquette Today aligned with his family’s wishes.

Please remember Todd, his family and friends in prayer.