Santa Clara University

English department

Letter from the incoming Chair

By John Hawley


hawley2From all of my colleagues in English, I’d like first to sincerely thank Professor Helen Moritz for taking on a very difficult task, stepping in at really the last minute (school was about to start last Fall when she was named interim Chair of English) and taking the reins of the largest department in the University (we have more faculty members than does the whole School of Engineering, for example). She was not chosen out of the blue, of course: Professor Moritz, whose home is the Classics department, had some years ago been tapped to serve as interim Chair of the Modern Languages department. She has great organizational skills, a thorough knowledge of the institution (she was president of the Faculty Senate and has chaired innumerable committees), and a no-nonsense approach to problems. It seems Modern Languages and English have several characteristics in common, just read any academic novel, and you’ll understand why. It may amaze the casual reader to note how many of these novels are set in English departments (cf. Russo’s Straight Man [1998]; Smiley’s Moo [1998]; Lodge’s Changing Places [1979], Small World [1985], and Nice Work [1990]; Heilbrun’s Death in a Tenured Position [1981]; Grudin’s Book [1992]; Siegel’s Love in a Dead Language [1999]). And, as hilarious as they all are, I would just point out that the last three, by Heilburn (pen name: Amanda Cross), Grudin, and Siegel, center around murders in the English department. Need I say more? Happily, Professor Moritz made it out alive. Now let’s see what the future holds!

I'm not only relieved to have a co-chair in Simone Billings, with whom I've worked for the last 25 years (including a memorable stint teaching our summer school in Durham, England), but also delighted to have someone whose talents complement my own, and who brings at least as much energy to the job as I do--probably a lot more, in fact. It doesn't hurt that she has a healthy sense of democracy in her approach to management, and a keen ear for tone--not for nothing has she been teaching rhetoric these many years.

Since Professor Moritz wrote her Chair’s letter, two of our “returning” teachers have made a change: Chris Kamrath off to Stanford, Michael King heading to Philadelphia. We’ll miss them both and wish them well. Newbies will be Noel Radley (from U Texas), Robin Tremblay-McGaw (UC Santa Cruz) and Jean-Pierre LaCrampe (St. Mary’s College). Michael S. Malone is not really new to our department, having graduated from Santa Clara some years ago, and having taught here some years ago. He was nominated twice for Pulitzer Prizes in investigative reporting, and continues to write about the business world of Silicon Valley.

I’m happy to report that we have hired Jefferson Dela Cruz as the second full-time administrative assistant for the department. Jefferson comes to us from the School of Education and Counseling Psychology, where he was the Communications, Marketing, and Recruiting/Outreach Coordinator (since 2009). Before that, he worked at Catapult Direct as a senior manager for internet marketing, at Mirapoint as a senior webmaster and graphic designer, and at AlphaGraphics as a prepress/Production artist. Jefferson has a BS in graphic communications from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Later in the year, in April, we’ll be hosting (at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose) a joint conference of two international literary organizations: the association for multi-ethnic literature and the United States (MELUS) and the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies. This will bring around 250 professors to campus. As Professor Moritz mentions, this year we will be conducting a review of the English program. You may be contacted for an assessment of your experience here, but whether or not we actually email you, I’d be most grateful if you could let us know what you consider to be the department’s strengths and weaknesses. Times change, and with those changes, it is best that we give serious thought to what an “English major” should mean in the 21st century, and how the department may best serve the needs of our students (whatever their majors) and our society.

Please stop by and see us whenever you’re in town! --John C. Hawley
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