Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tony Award

I am very pleased to announce that Tony Pollock has been selected as the recipient of a 2010 LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. I'm pleased, first and foremost, because this award recognizes a colleague who I know to be a really superb teacher: Tony's students rave about him, and he routinely gets near-perfect student evaluation scores for upper division undergraduate classes in his field of 18th-Century British literature and culture. I consider myself to be a good teacher--I work hard at it and I've been doing it for a while--but I've thought about asking to sit in on Tony's classes to see if I could learn a thing or two. So: congratulations, Tony, on an award that is clearly well-deserved.

I'm also pleased because this award continues our remarkable run of success as a department in these college-wide teaching award competitions. If you scroll through the lists of past winners of LAS awards, you'll see that English has had a lot of winners in all instructional categories. We are a big department--with Graduate Student TAs, Instructors, Lecturers, and tenure stream faculty--and a remarkably strong one, top to bottom, when it comes to classroom instruction. This is reflected in our success in college-wide teaching awards (we always have more excellent teachers than we can even nominate), but even more so in the long lists of English faculty who show up on the Lists of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students every semester and in our consistently strong showing on questions about teaching in the senior surveys conducted each year by the chancellor's office and the campus's Center For Teaching Excellence.

Of course, The University of Illinois is one of the country's top research universities too, and we are also an exceptionally strong department of research scholars and creative writers. In a department like ours, the basic structuring idea is that leading-edge research and creative activity informs classroom instruction and vice versa. I'm very proud to represent a department where that important idea is so clearly being put into practice every day.

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