As we are just beginning the new school year, it is important to look back over the past nine months and be proud of our accomplishments. This issue of English Matters in particular reflects a period of new beginnings for the department that are based on our past successes. As the result of three faculty searches, two new assistant professors began in September, and once again they are top choices from the nation. Kristine Haugen (PhD, Princeton) has research and teaching interests in literature and intellectual history 1500-1800, and, for the past three years, has been the Frances Yates Research Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London. Zahid Chaudhary (PhD, Cornell), specializes in colonial/postcolonial literatures and has other interests in twentieth-century British literature, cultural studies, and critical theory. Laura Chrisman, currently at York University, will begin here as the first Nancy K. Ketcham Professor in fall 2005. Professors Eva Cherniavsky and Thomas Foster, both from Indiana University, will also join the department in fall 2005. Cherniavsky will become the Hilen Professor of American Literature and Culture.
Other faculty news includes the following: Anis Bawarshi and Alys Weinbaum have been promoted to associate professor and Paul Remley to Professor. Linda Bierds and Henry Staten have been awarded Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professorships in the Humanities, Raimonda Modiano has received the first Marcia L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, and Assistant Professor Jessica Burstein and Lecturer Anu Taranath are the 2003-04 departmental distinguished teachers. Contributions to the English Program Support Fund provide the cash prizes for this special departmental recognition, and Graduate School and College of Arts and Sciences endowments and annual gifts fund the Landholt Award and Lockwood Professorships.
This year also brought a new English Department website, and an expanded career discovery day and new graduation ceremony. Thanks to two years of work by a staff/faculty committee, and especially by technical support wizard Rob Weller, the website is in place. Check it out at http://depts.washington.edu/engl/. With the leadership of Melissa Wensel, Director of Academic services, the English advising office sponsored a successful career discovery day at which seventeen alumni in various careers talked with students about how English has served them in and beyond their workplaces. And finally, students requested and did much of the planning for the first formal departmental graduation ceremony.
There have been many opportunities this year for alumni and friends who have come to campus for such events as the Dean’s Club program about the freshman discovery seminar on A Christmas Carol, the Shakespeare birthday party, a “Conversation with Charles Johnson,” the annual Roethke reading accompanied this year by the special forum on “Roethke Remembered,” and the honoring of Tess Gallagher as the humanities distinguished alumnus by the College or Arts and Sciences. Cheri Tucker (BA 1963), Marjorie Hemphill (BA 1961, MA 1962), and Jennifer McCord (BA 1970) have volunteered to help our students with professional writing, speaking, and editing. In 2003-04 the number of annual contributors increased by nearly 40% from the previous year, and with our alumni base of more than 16,000 people, our goal is to continue to build the numbers of annual contributors. We very much appreciate such contributions which directly benefit the department, and we depend heavily upon many sustaining gifts to endowments, program support, and Friends of English accounts.