Academic Leaders


Dr. Robert Savukinas


Dr. Savukinas was born in Washington DC and grew up in a bilingual household speaking Italian and English. He attended Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on an Army ROTC Scholarship and graduated with honors in Spanish and Political Science. His undergraduate immersion experience was in Alicante, Spain, and subsequently attended graduate school to earn a Master’s Degree in Spanish from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. During this time, Dr. Savukinas began his teaching career instructing Spanish. His graduate immersion experience was in Valladolid, Spain. Dr. Savukinas attended The George Washington University as a Graduate Fellow, earning his Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration. As a Graduate Fellow, Dr. Savukinas is credited for revising the graduate student admissions process which enabled the institution to make admissions decisions more efficiently. Dr. Savukinas has published in the area of Spanish literature, community colleges and students with disabilities, open universities, and facility-improving community college partnerships. His dissertation was nominated for a national award. Dr. Savukinas has held positions in government, education and the military sector.  Early in his career, Dr. Savukinas served as a Congressional Staffer for the 7th Congressional District, North Carolina. In this capacity, he focused on military/veteran and immigration issues. Dr. Savukinas also instructed foreign language at several institutions. He has over 13 years of combined teaching experience at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Dr. Savukinas likewise has military experience. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served 12 years in the Reserve where his assignments included working as the S-1 in a Military Police Training Brigade, Executive Officer, Company Commander, and Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment Commander. DLIFLC hired Dr. Savukinas in 2005 as Assistant Registrar. In this capacity, he led the DLIFLC Associate of Arts Degree program and he volunteered to be a lead author for the 2006 Accreditation Self Study. Since then, Dr. Savukinas was promoted to Registrar, Associate Dean, Accreditation Liaison Officer, and Director of the Office of Standardization and Academic Excellence. He earned several military distinctions to include Army Commendation Medals and Army Achievement Medals. Some of his most notable accomplishments include establishing and managing the DLIFLC Board of Visitors, maintaining and reaffirming  DLIFLC’s regional (WASC/ACCJC) and TRADOC accreditations, and the continuous success of the DLIFLC Associate of Arts Degree program. Dr. Savukinas is married and has three daughters.    

Dr. Hiam N. Kanbar

Associate Provost of Undergraduate Education


Dr. Hiam Kanbar has been engaged in foreign language pedagogy for over 30 years. She grew up in Lebanon, where she completed her undergraduate studies. She earned a Teaching Diploma from Beirut Teachers’ Academy, and her Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language Teaching, with a major in teaching French as a foreign language and minor in Arabic language and literature, from the College of Letters and Humanities of the Lebanese University, Beirut.

She subsequently moved to France to pursue her graduate studies at the University of Franche-Comté where she received a Master’s degree and Doctorate degree with Highest Honors in the area of Applied Linguistics. Her dissertation was on Theories and Practices of Literary Texts in French as a Foreign Language.

Dr. Kanbar began her career as a foreign language teacher in Lebanon and France, joining DLIFLC as an Arabic instructor in 1991. She currently holds the rank of professor, and her work ssignments have included test development at the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization, as well as program management as chairperson. She has served as dean of three schools: Asian School III, Middle East School I, and the European and Latin American School. She currently serves as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and as the Deputy Institutional Official for Human Research Protections Program at DLIFLC.

In addition to her work in language teaching and testing, her research interests encompass spoken language in applied linguistics, as well as proficiency on cultural issues as they relate to the DLIFLC mission. In 2005 and 2006, she taught applied linguistics and Arabic at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Over her career, she has made numerous presentations at DLIFLC, the American Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages conventions, Teachers of English as a Second or Other Language, and the Less Commonly Taught Languages conferences on “Cultural barriers in the foreign language classroom,” “Understanding and achieving level 3 proficiency,” and “Understanding and teaching the spoken language.” Additionally, she serves as a referee for the Modern Language Journal and in the past served as a speaking evaluator for California State University at Monterey Bay, and an Oral Proficiency Interview tester for graduating students in Levantine at Yale University.

As part of her involvement in the community, she has served on the board of several non-profit organizations and is a member of several language and cultural associations. She served on the board of the Arab-American Club of the Monterey Peninsula and she is a member of the United Nations Association of Monterey Bay. She is also a member of the World Affairs Council, the American Association of Teachers of French, and the American Association of Teaches of Arabic.

062614 Kesten Detrov HS 8x10 (1)Mr. Detlev Kesten

Associate Provost for Academic Support


DLIFLC Associate Provost of Academic Support, Mr. Detlev Kesten, is responsible for coordinating and supporting the work of the other associate provosts for the purpose of addressing academic and administrative priorities established by the DLIFLC Provost. Additionally, he has supervisory responsibilities over the divisions of Academic Affairs, Training Analysis, Faculty Development Support, Curriculum Development Support, and Student Learning Support, as well as the Immersion Language Program, Academic Journals, and AISO Library.

Mr. Kesten served DLIFLC as a German instructor from 1987 until 1990. Following his first assignment, he spent 14 years in the private sector, working in sales for such companies as AT&T, Duke Energy, Telstra, his latest assignment as VP of Sales and Marketing. During his time in corporate America, Mr. Kesten sold localization, translation and interpretation services to Fortune 1000 companies and managed sales teams across the country. In 2004, he returned to Monterey and DLIFLC and has been working in the Provost Office since 2006. During his tenure, he worked as Faculty Associate in support of the day-to-day operation of the Office of the Provost. In that position, he managed a large variety of assignments that stretched across all DLIFLC directorates. Most recently, Mr. Kesten was promoted to Associate Provost for Academic Support.

He holds a Master of Arts in Education from Chapman University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Calvin College.


Sgt. Maj. James V. Southern, U.S. Army

Provost Sergeant Major


A native of Atlanta Georgia, Sergeant Major James V. Southern enlisted in the Army in 1987 as a Cryptologic Linguist. He attended basic training at Fort Dix New Jersey, the Modern Standard Arabic Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey California, and Advanced Individual Training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.
Sgt. Maj. Southern has served in every traditional leadership position from team leader to First Sergeant. He has served in strategic leadership positions as regional senior mission manager, senior collection manager, and theater Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) synchronization manager. In the joint community, he served as the senior enlisted adviser to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Land Forces commander.

His stateside assignments include Fort Campbell Kentucky, Savannah Georgia, Fort Gordon, Georgia, Fort Stewart Georgia, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, DLIFLC. Presidio of Monterey, California, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Bliss, Texas. His overseas assignments include the United Kingdom and Spain. He has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Italy, and Macedonia for combat and peacekeeping operations.

Sgt. Maj. Southern’s military education includes the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Arabic Course, Air Assault Course, Warrior Leader course, Advanced Cryptology Course, Basic Instructor Course, Senior Leader Course, First Sergeant Course, Sergeants Major Course, and Master Resilience Trainer Course. His civilian education includes an Associate of Middle Eastern Culture and Linguistics, Associate of Intelligence Studies, Bachelors of Liberal Arts, Masters of Intelligence Management, and Masters of Education and Curriculum Development.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (2nd award), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (2nd award), the National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal (3rd award), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the Master Instructor Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Saudi-Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

Sgt. Maj. Southern is a life-long learner with a passion for leadership, teaching, and community service. His 27 years of service to the nation has provided invaluable opportunities to see and understand the world from unique perspectives and has instilled a sense of personal responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

James currently resides at the Presidio of Monterey with his wife and three sons.