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A Note From the Chair / Anis Bawarshi

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on November 19, 2016 - 3:07pm
Anis Bawashi

While department chair Brian Reed has been on a much-deserved sabbatical leave this fall, I have served as Acting Chair.  I have learned first-hand the daily challenges and responsibilities involved in running a department of this size and complexity.  I have been humbled by the tireless effort of staff, advisers, program directors, graduate students, and faculty on behalf of the department. I am also grateful to the faculty as we continue to define what we do in English in ways that are inclusive of the diversity of individuals, purposes, objects, and inquiry that is crucial to this work.

The work we do matters, perhaps more than ever. As climate changes, as our society confronts racism, as globalization blurs and decolonization redraws geographic boundaries, and as new technologies bring into contact and blend genres and languages, we need the ability to communicate with others, across boundaries. This will require us to negotiate differences and is work we in English are uniquely positioned to support, as several of the stories profiled in this issue highlight.

In this issue of English Matters, we profile our recent faculty hires (Megan Callow, Stephanie Clare, David Crouse, and Kate Norako) and recognize our recently retired colleague, Robert McNamara. We also highlight a few of our outstanding faculty achievements (the Spring issue will profile our faculty publications), which don’t include the three teaching awards, three Royalty Research Scholar awards, the Simpson Center Society of Scholar award, and the four Simpson Center Cross-disciplinary Research Cluster Grants awarded to nine of our faculty. The issue also highlights our colleagues’ work in the community as well as several of our outstanding students, profiles two of our alums, and includes faculty-recommended readings.

I am also pleased to announce that our colleague Henry Laufenberg has taken over, starting with this issue, as editor of English Matters.  I am grateful for his work as we prepare to publish the newsletter biannually in electronic format, once in fall and spring.  There has been one other administrative change over the summer. Carrie Matthews has taken over as Director of the Interdisciplinary Writing Program from Norman Wacker. I want to thank Norman for his years of service as IWP director and to welcome Carrie to her new position, along with Megan Callow as Associate Director.

One of the highlights for me this fall was a faculty emeriti luncheon the department hosted in September.  We had eighteen faculty emeriti along with their partners in attendance.  Initiated by Brian Reed, the event was a wonderful opportunity to bring colleagues together, acknowledge their influence, and thank them for their many contributions to the work we do.

In the spirit of gratitude for long years of service, I am honored to announce that the English department graduate program coordinator, Kathy Mork, has been selected as the 2016 UW Distinguished Graduate Program Advisor. This award is from the UW Graduate School, which means that Kathy is being honored as the most outstanding Program Advisor in all the programs that the Graduate School administers on all three UW campuses.  Kathy is, and has been for 34 years, the epicenter of our graduate program, helping nearly 200 graduate students every year navigate what often feels like a maze of admissions, graduate study benchmarks, paperwork, and career advice.   Congratulations Kathy on this hugely deserved recognition.

We also continue to benefit greatly from the generosity of donors. The final installment of a gift from the late Grace Pollock will generate fellowships for students in our MFA program for years to come. Donna Gerstenberger, a former chair of English, was honored by her late partner, Yvonne Mandorf, in her will. An endowment in Donna's name will provide badly needed funding for graduate students in our MA/Ph.D. program. Carl Milner has created a bequest whose use will be at the chair’s discretion; in our era of budget cuts and financial challenges, this flexibility is especially welcome. Mary and Allan Kollar made possible our Professional Learning Communities initiative, which has enriched the intellectual lives of high school teachers by encouraging them to collaborate in conducting and sharing research on writing and pedagogy. We are thankful, too, to Pete Nordstrom, Lee Scheingold, and so many more of you out there who have helped this community to flourish and grow stronger.