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Chair's Note: Spring 2023

| Jan Stirm

Dear Friends, Alums, Colleagues, and Students,

It seems simultaneously like yesterday and eons ago that I wrote to you in June 2020 as incoming chair.  We were entering a most difficult year of teaching with Covid, some of us from home, and others in rooms with some students while others joined on livestream.  Things have gotten far better in many ways: we have vaccines and are mostly back to regular face to face teaching.

In January of 2021, I was thrilled to announce a gift from John Magliocco providing three $1000 scholarships, renewable for one year, for entering students from underrepresented backgrounds.  The award was created to encourage incoming first-year students who have declared an English major or minor and will target students from underrepresented backgrounds as defined in their application for admission.  In addition to the scholarship, the students meet regularly with Professor Sarita Mizin who has developed a mentoring program to guide and advise these students through their first years.  We’re looking forward to welcoming our third cohort in fall of 2023!

In that same newsletter, I announced the beginning of the Midwest Arts Academy, a program that’s had great success and will be continuing on with leadership having passed from Professor BJ Hollars (English) to Professor Arthur Grothe (Music and Theater Arts).

We’re off to an exciting start to 2023.  In English, we’ve hired Shanna Cameron as an assistant professor in Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Cultures (see article), and the Center for Writing Excellence and English have a shared hire, Aubrey Cox, who will be the Assistant Director for the CWE and teach in our Blugold Seminar Program (see article).

Our Writing Program Director, Kaia Simon, is working hard to initiate a new scholarship program to recognize and reward the excellent work our students do in the Blugold Seminar courses.  Please take a moment to read Dr. Simon’s article about the program and consider making a donation.  Even a small donation will help us get started!

On April 6, in conjunction with the McIntyre Library and the UWEC Forum we’ll welcome Naomi Shihab Nye as part of the annual Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry.  Our Library holds a stellar collection of Robert Frost materials for use by scholars and students of American Poetry.

I’d like to congratulate several of my colleagues.  Dr. Dorothy Chan has been awarded the 2022 UW System Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People.  (see article).  And more recently, Dr. Asha Sen has been awarded the Grace Lau Senior Fellowship and Dr. Kaia Simon has been awarded the Debra Maben Mid-Careen University Fellow Award.  These are new awards from the UWEC Foundation, and I’m thrilled to congratulate them!

If you’re around Eau Claire in May, you might want to sign up for Dorothy Chan’s “The Amuse-Bouche of Poetry: Sonnets, Food, and Recipe Poems” at the LE Phillips Memorial Public Library.  It will be three Tuesdays, May 9, 16, and 23rd, from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Also, keep your eyes open for Frank Fucile’s program at the LE Phillips Memorial Public Library in July.

The English Department continues to work hard to provide a strong liberal arts education, an excellent first year writing program, and an array of majors, minors, and certificates for our students.

This will be my last chair’s letter to you, since I’ll be stepping down as chair and retiring in May.  It’s been an honor and a challenge to serve the department as chair, and a joy to work with students and colleagues during my years here.  I plan to keep busy with travel, birding, and biking in the near future.  And, of course, the English Department will continue to do its good and hard work.

I hope you enjoy reading about our activities, and will keep in touch!

Best wishes, Jan