Richard Dunn retired from the English Department after a career of 40 years at the University of Washington. I met Dick at the 1984 MLA Convention, where he and what seemed like 30 other members of the English Department were crammed into a smallish hotel room, interviewing me for a faculty position. Of all the questions posed to me during that hour of conversation, it is the one asked by Dick that remains in my memory. What, he wanted to know, had been the impact upon my teaching of the work that I had done on the Victorian novelist George Meredith as part of my dissertation? Linking in this way the different parts of what we do as academics has always been a fundamental part of how Dick envisages university life. 12 . Retirements Dick was relatively new as department chair that year, a role in which he was to serve for fourteen years—one of the longest tenures in departmental history. Dick also spent five years as divisional dean for the arts and humanities, and performed with unflagging zeal and good will the countless other administrative tasks that the university asked him to undertake. Over the years, I have learned in watching him as much about the art and craft of chairing a department as I learned from anyone else on campus. In his time as an administrator, Dick never lost sight of the other aspects of academic life. He has remained an active scholar, well-known for his work on Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and other Victorian authors and texts. He played a large part in other areas as well, both locally and nationally—in accreditation, the UW Office of Minority Affairs, intercollegiate athletics, the Association of Departments of English. Busy as he was, he never stayed out of the classroom very long, and he has never forgotten the primacy of our roles as teachers and educators. At every moment, he has kept his gaze firmly upon trying to promote the welfare of the students with whom we work. That I can now offer a better answer to his question of 1984 is due in great measure to his example. To Dick’s time as administrator, we owe a number of notable achievements: a newly configured undergraduate curriculum, many talented faculty and staff, and an extraordinary record of success in the development efforts that provide an increasingly important foundation for our programs and students. Our department is a far better place for having had him as a member and leader of it for so many years.
In June 2007, Bob Shulman retired from the English Department after 46 years of teaching and writing, primarily in the field of American Literature. During this remarkable period in American history, Bob published many books, articles, reviews, and encyclopedia entries, including two important books on American literature: Social Criticism and Nineteenth-Century American Fictions (1987), and The Power of Political Art: The 1930s Literary Left Reconsidered (2000). All of Bob’s work is informed by a careful analysis of texts in which the intersection of American literature, politics, and history seems most rich; he has been especially interested in literary expressions of diverse forms of political awareness. As he notes, Bob’s relation to teaching and scholarship changed during the Vietnam War and the civil rights and women’s movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He found himself taking students more directly into account in designing and teaching his courses and moved toward a more politically engaged writing than he had done earlier, returning to his undergraduate American Studies roots that had been blocked by the Cold War and the New Critical formalism of his graduate training. Bob is especially proud of his two awards for teaching excellence. Equally important for him was the time he spent abroad—on a Fulbright in France; in Florence, Siena, and Ferrara; and as one of the first faculty to teach the English Department’s spring program in Rome. In his words, “the perspective on America from Europe has been invaluable,” enriching his scholarship in ways that his readers can readily observe and appreciate. That transatlantic connection has been sustained by a series of papers he has presented at conferences across Europe, a pattern he will continue in delivering a paper at a major conference on Richard Wright in Paris this coming June. Bob’s work on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature has attracted national and international attention. In 1991, he appeared in a PBS documentary interviewing Meridel Le Sueur. As he moves on from academic life, Bob's political energies and passion for writing are already finding new routes to expression. He has become interested in water issues in the Methow Valley, working with a local environmental group there and contemplating a new book (perhaps mystery, perhaps non-fiction), Water, Weather, War.
—Eric LaGuardia and Gary Handwerk