Turning Over the Keys — On August 1, 2012, I began serving as the Interim Chair of the English Department, and on August 6 of that year, I sent out my very first Monday Missive. Since then I have sent you a Monday Missive every week. The only exceptions have been during the weeks when UNC Charlotte has been closed for the holidays and one week in March 2017 when Jen Munroe wrote the Monday Missive because I was hospitalized. I did some quick calculations, and I am pretty sure that today ‘s edition is the 370th Monday Missive. It is also the last one.
I searched through my old email and found my first Monday Missive. In it, I used David Bowie’s song “Changes” as a springboard to discuss the changes that were taking place in the English Department at the time. Today’s Monday Missive is also about changes. At the end of this week, I am literally turning over the keys of the English Department to Paula Eckard. She officially becomes the new chair of our department on January 1, 2020, but she has already transformed the chair’s office and has made the space her own.
At the same time that Paula is taking on the role of English Department Chair, Liz Miller is assuming the role of Associate Chair/Director of Undergraduate Studies from Jen Munroe, and Beth Gargano is assuming the role of Director of the English Honors Program from Kirk Melnikoff. Lara Vetter is staying on in her role as the Director of Graduate Studies.
This current period of transition is not the first time that I have turned over the administration of a program to Paula. When I became an associate dean in 2002, I needed to step down as the Director of the American Studies Program. Paula took over the administration of the program at the time. During her long and successful tenure as its director, she has done an excellent job of building the American Studies Program. When I turned it over to her in 2002, there were about 50 students minoring in American Studies. Today, the program has more than 350 minors, making it one of the largest minors in the university.
Just as she did when she became the Director of the American Studies Program, Paula will draw on her experience and excellent judgment in her new role as the Chair of the English Department. As I conclude my time as your chair, I pledge to do all I can to help Paula and the department through this period of transition. I know that I am leaving the English Department in good hands.
Commencement Report — Last Saturday the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences held its winter commencement ceremony. Jen Munroe, Liz Miller, Lara Vetter and I took responsibility for lining up our graduating students in alphabetical order before they filed into the Dale F. Halton Arena.
For 76 of our students, this ceremony marked their transition from current students to graduates. A total of 9 of our graduate students are listed in the commencement program, and 67 undergraduate students are listed. I am especially impressed with how many of our BA students fall under the heading of “Graduation with Distinction.” Of the 67 students, 12 earned the distinction of Cum Laude (GPA between 3.4-3.7), 10 earned the distinction of Magna Cum Laude (GPA between 3.7-3.9), and 3 earned the distinction of Summa Cum Laude (GPA between 3.9-4.0). This total comes to 25 students. Also, 4 of our students graduated with English Honors. I am very proud of all of our graduating students, but I want to mention by name the 3 students who earned the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. They are Riley Michelle Davoren, Britney Lussier, and Amy Eileen Murray.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Everyone in the English Department — I commend all of the members of the English Department (both past and present) for building and sustaining an inclusive department that is dedicated to teaching high-quality courses, producing thoughtful and innovative scholarly and creative publications, and promoting a sense of departmental citizenship.
Upcoming Events and Meetings — Here is a list of upcoming events and deadlines:
January 8 — First day of classes for the Spring 2020 semester.
January 15 — Last day for students to add or drop a course with no grade.
Quirky Quiz Question — In my first Monday Missive, I asked the following Quirky Quiz Question: “I am not the first Interim Chair of the English Department. Who was the last person to serve as the Interim Chair of our department?” Paula Eckard was the first person to provide the correct response (Jay Jacoby), and this seems very fitting to me. Here is my last Quirky Quiz Question–what is the connection between Jay Jacoby’s current place of residence and Paula Eckard’s research interest in Thomas Wolfe?
Last week’s answer: Mathematics
In addition to writing children’s books, Lewis Carroll spent many years teaching at Oxford University. What subject did he teach?