Santa Clara University


Letter from the 2010-2011 Department Chair

By Helen Moritz

HelenMoritzThe 2010-2011 academic year has been a year of transition for the English Department.  Professor Linda Garber, who had held a split appointment in English and the Women's and Gender Studies Program, went full-time to WGST; she still cross-lists many of her courses with English, however.  On the other hand, Professor Juan Velasco, who had been split between Modern Languages and Literatures and English, is now full-time in English.  All in all, however, there was a net loss of senior faculty from the teaching ranks in the department: Professor Phyllis Brown is now the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies, a (more than) full-time job; and Professor Eileen Elrod is serving as the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development, officially a half-time position, though, as she reports, "the half-time feature of the faculty development position has not yet materialized."  Finally, at the end of the year Professor Fred White retired, as Professor Emeritus, after 31 years of service at Santa Clara University (see the interview with Professor White elsewhere in this issue of the Quill).

At the same time, the department welcomed or welcomed back all of the following as writing faculty:  renewable-term lecturers Scott Dennis, Denise Krane, and Michael Lasley; term lecturers Olin Bjork, Alan Clinton, Melissa Donegan, Gina Firenzi, Christopher Kamrath, Michael King, Tim Myers, and Aparajita Nanda; and part-time lecturers Mitali Biswas, Rebecca Bloyd, Robin Everest, John Hessler, Laleh Khadivi, John Lee, Avantika Rohatgi, Yolanda Venegas, and Jaya Venkatraman.

Meanwhile, the faculty kept teaching and publishing their research and creative writing (department's monthly newsletters), and the students kept learning and excelling in their own right (see the report on the Sigma Tau Delta conference elsewhere in this issue, for just a few examples).

In the course of the year the department continued working toward institutionalizing new Core Curriculum courses, especially the broad pallet of Critical Thinking and Writing offerings and a range of new, or revised, Advance Writing courses.  There was also progress on a revision of the major and minor requirements, with a view toward a better acknowledgment of the place of writing in the department.

Most symbolic of the transitional nature of the year was the installation of a leadership structure consisting of an Interim Chair from Classics (yours truly) and an Interim Associate Chair/Director of Writing, English Professor Simone Billings.  This division of administrative labor has proved sufficiently functional that, for the coming three years, it will be maintained from within the department, with Professor John Hawley resuming the role of Chair and Professor Billings continuing as Associate Chair/Director of Writing.  They have their work cut out for them, as Program Review begins again in the fall for English (as for all Humanities departments).  But Professor Hawley has already constituted a Program Review team consisting of Professors Juliana Chang and Don Riccomini, and they seem to have a process well in hand.

It has been a pleasure to work with my colleagues in the English Department this year, many of them familiar from the 1970s and 1980s when Classics was on the third floor of St. Joseph, and as I leave I am impressed by the energy and resolve with which the department is moving forward.

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