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Winter 2021 Note from the Chair

| Jan Stirm

Dear Friends, Alums, Colleagues, and Students,

When I last wrote to you in June 2020, I was a brand new chair, and things were feeling pretty bleak.  Today, as I write, I’m feeling a lot more optimism.  A lot of that has to do with my colleagues and students, and how well almost everyone worked together during fall semester.  Let’s not sugar-coat things: it was a hard semester, and we all learned a lot.  Me, especially.  But we mostly got through.  Colleagues across the university made extra efforts to help students succeed, and to help other colleagues, too. 

We faced an extraordinarily difficult budget by cutting back where we could, especially on department travel for conferences and on supplies.  Those both made sense given that most conferences were either cancelled or virtual, and we couldn’t give students paper copies because we didn’t want to take unnecessary risks.

The budget is still hard, but we’ve had some extraordinary news, too.  For the first time, thanks to a generous gift from John Magliocco, we are thrilled to announce up to three $1,000 scholarships. Students with a declared English major or minor upon admission are eligible, and the award is renewable for a second year. Along with this financial assistance, recipients of the award will form a cohort, meeting regularly with a cohort advisor within the department in an effort to guide, advise, and mentor the students through their undergraduate study.   Both of John Magliocco’s children graduated from UWEC. His daughter graduated with both a B.A., and remained at UWEC for her Master’s in English. 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. The Magliocco Scholars fund will be awarded through Admissions.

We’re also excited by the Midwest Arts Academy, which you’ll read about in this issue.  This summer program represents a wonderful opportunity for area youth. 

And as we look forward to the coming semester, we’re using what we’ve learned, both as instructors and students to have another, even more successful semester while dealing with COVID.  And we’re hopeful that with a vaccine in place, fall will look a bit more familiar.

We still have plenty of work to do, especially in working against systemic racism.  I’d like to applaud two of my colleagues, Kaia Simon and Jonathan Rylander, both of whom completed Tier 3 EDI certificates.  These certificates represent significant work through a series of ten or more workshops and an independent project that contributes to EDI efforts on campus.  You can read about their certificates, along with other faculty accomplishments in this issue.

So now, please enjoy catching up with what we’re doing, and please take the time to get in touch and tell us what you’re up to as well.

Happy New Year and Best Wishes, Jan