This is my final message to you as chair of the department, as I am scheduled to complete my second term in the spring. While the job has had its challenges, particularly during some difficult economic times, it has been an honor and a pleasure to serve such a vibrant community of scholars, teachers, students, alumni, and friends. I look back to my tenure as chair with fondness, and I look forward to returning full time to teaching and research.
One of my most pleasant duties is to celebrate the achievements of the faculty. Among the most notable, Sabina Murray, a member of our MFA fiction faculty, was awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, and her colleague in poetry, Peter Gizzi was the subject of a glowing profile in the New Yorker. Last spring, David Fleming, former Director of the Writing Program, won the Outstanding Book Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication for his recently published book entitled From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957-1974. Other honors included a Mellon Mutual Mentoring Team Grant for Nick Bromell, Laura Doyle, and Emily Lordi, and a Mellon Micro-Grant for Laura Furlan.
Our search for a new colleague to direct the University Writing Center was successful, and we hired our top choice, Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, who is profiled in this newsletter. In response to the external review of our department that I mentioned last year, we upgraded our Chief Undergraduate Advisor position to full time, and Janis Greve continues to serve our majors in this important position. Three of our colleagues—Ruth Jennison, Hoang Phan, and Jordana Rosenberg—were awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, and Joseph Black and David Fleming were promoted to Professor.
In a comprehensive campus review of PhD programs, we were delighted to learn that the department ranked very highly among our peers in public flagship universities in scholarly citations, book publications, and major awards by faculty members. We also learned that over the past dozen years, English had the highest number of placements into tenure-track positions of any department on our campus, and the fourth highest total of employed graduates, behind only three major programs in science. Given these large numbers, our 70% placement rate in tenure-track, long-term faculty positions is a source of great pride, and speaks to the dedication and accomplishment of our graduate students and their faculty mentors. We look forward to this year’s review of undergraduate programs, for which we anticipate similarly gratifying results.
My six years as chair have made me especially conscious of the pivotal role played by our alumni and friends through their contributions. Gifts to the department support guest lectures, social and cultural events, and scholarships and prizes that enrich our students’ academic experience. Your generosity has enabled me to say “yes” far more often than I could have otherwise, and for that the department and I remain very grateful. I hope you enjoy reading the articles here, and as always, I invite you to keep in touch.