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Note from the chair: Summer 2022

| Dr. Jan Stirm

Dear Friends, Alums, Colleagues, and Students,

Once again, I sit down to write you, nursing my coffee, and very late with my note for the Newsletter, which Alaina Guns, one of our Department Associates, has had ready since mid-June.  These things are hard to write.  I’d like to be all cheery and happy, but reality has a nasty way of stepping in.  For example, many students and colleagues told me that this past semester was their hardest yet.  People keep getting sick, needing accommodations or other help, but we’re all tired of the pandemic and, perhaps, not quite as careful as we should be.  Two years ago, when I wrote my first note, I thought the whole pandemic thing would be over in about a year.  How wrong I was.

Between the pandemic and demographic changes, first year (and other) student enrollments are down at UWEC this fall.  Since we depend so deeply on tuition, and tuition’s been frozen for a long while, even a small drop in enrollments hurts the budget.  To me, that used to be abstract.  Now, I’m thinking about making sure we have full employment for our Instructional Academic Staff, because I really don’t want to lay anyone off.  (So far, so good.)

The leadership folks over in Schofield are trying to figure out how to provide the best educational opportunities we can with the resources we have, and so far, that’s good at least.  I think the English Department is offering an excellent array of courses, with strong attention to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; we’re also providing internship, research, and organizational opportunities, and as you’ll see elsewhere in the newsletter, our students are putting in the hard work to make these count for themselves and their communities.  Check out the articles about Anthony Wallace doing research on communicating/teaching anti-racism, and Paul Unnash about his internships and what’s probably the best advice for students (and all of us)!

There’s other good news, too.  Please join me in congratulating BJ Hollars on his promotion to Full Professor; I’d also like to congratulate Kaia Simon and Jonathan Rylander on their promotions to Associate Professor.  All three have done stellar work for the department and more than earned these promotions, and I’m so happy for us and them alike.

Among the many articles Alaina has put together, I want to draw your attention to Dr. Sarita Mizin’s work with our Magliocco Scholars and other diverse students on campus.  Also, the article on our Rhetorics program (RSTC) gives a wonderful idea of how valuable that field of study is for students across campus.

When I look around the department at colleagues such as Sarita, BJ, Kaia, Jonathan, and Stephanie Turner, I know the department will be in good hands for a long time to come.

I’m thrilled by the articles from alums John Bohl and Tim Mulrain.  People take very different paths, and contribute in different ways.  It’s lovely to hear from alums, especially the remembrances of friends and instructors.  Consider this your personal invitation to send me a note and let me know what you’re up to, who made a difference for you, and how English Studies matters.

Thanks for being part of English Studies at UWEC.  We’re an ever-growing community of people who make a difference for the better.

Best wishes for a lovely summer, Jan