I first assumed the role of Chair of the English Department at Mount Mary University in August 2014. In my two-year tenure as chair, in addition to typical chair responsibilities, I accomplished the following:
- Spearheaded the proposal of a 3+2 dual degree in English (proposal is currently under review by administration). The goal is to attract students to both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
- Assisted with the proposal of an MFA in Creative and New Media Writing (proposal is currently under review by administration). The MFA has the potential to immediately grow the program, as the interest in a terminal degree in creative writing is strong.
- Worked with English department faculty to propose a minor in creative writing (proposal is currently under review by administration).
- The department revised its entire graduate and undergraduate curricula in order to offer a greater variety of courses, increase class size, improve efficiencies and make the programs more attractive for majors and prospective students. This was a year-long, comprehensive project that examined every single course in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. More information about this is discussed in my reflection letter.
- The English department closely monitored class sizes and streamlined course offerings or reduced the number of sections offered in order to increase the average class size. In fall 2015, our average class size was 15, which has been established as the University’s benchmark for average class size. In spring 2016, the average class size was 14. (Spring courses sizes, on average, are slightly smaller, because we offer fewer composition sections.)
- The department worked closely with marketing to initiate efforts to market the Writing for New Media concentration, such as sending marketing materials to high schools with strong journalism programs and developing a social media presence. I personally worked closely with members of the marketing department, including Kathleen Van Zeeland and Eva Ennamorato, to create promotional blurbs for the press and social media posts.
- The department has worked hard to promote the Writing for New Media concentration by promoting it in the press and through various forms of media.
- The department is developing new blended or online courses, such as Advanced Writing for New Media (blended), Technical Writing (online), Composition II (online), and various online literature courses.
- I revamped the curricula in our undergraduate professional writing courses to include the digital writing, editing and design skills necessary to succeed in a variety of careers, and I will continue to modify courses to ensure market need is aligned with the skills developed in our courses.
- Led a search for an Assistant Professor of English with a focus on new media writing (position was retracted after search was completed).
- Participated in a search for an Assistant Professor of English with a focus on creative writing (we are fortunate that Dr. Debra Brenegan filled this position).
- Worked with Jessica Wildes from the marketing department to develop promotional materials for the Writing for New Media program, such as this Writing for New Media Brochure. Also worked with her to develop and launch a Facebook campaign to promote the Writing for New Media program.
- Developed flyers to publicize classes, such as this New Media Course Flyer.
- Worked with Townshend Communication to develop a story about the Writing for New Media program for its Major Mondays website. (I did not write the story, but I coordinated interviews, provided information, and edited drafts. In all honesty, the reporter was not a terrific writer, and she needed a lot of help from me – her drafts had multiple errors, so this process was much more time-consuming than it should have been.) The story can be viewed here and was sent to more than 5,000 subscribers.
- Implemented pedagogical training sessions for English department full-time and adjunct faculty, which I continue today. These training sessions were developed so we may better integrate digital literacy skills throughout all of our courses. More detail can be found in my reflection letter.
These are simply highlights of what I consider to be my accomplishments as chair. Please refer to my reflection letter for detailed information about my future goals and thoughts about how I could improve my effectiveness as chair.