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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

College and Campus Teaching Award ceremonies

April may be the cruelest month to poets, but it has to be a pretty good time of year for the catering companies that work the awards ceremonies on campus.

Last Thursday, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences held its annual Teaching Awards ceremony, and then this past Tuesday the Provost's office hosted its annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence. Tony Pollock--who was awarded both an LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and a Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching this year--was honored at both events, along with exemplary teachers from across the college and campus. English is a very strong teaching department and we have traditionally done very well in these campus-wide awards. Past winners of campus-wide awards for undergraduate teaching include Stephanie Foote, Philip Graham, Gail Hawisher, Brigit Kelly, Mike Madonick, Robert Dale Parker, and Julia Saville. Future winners from the English Department are of course too numerous to mention.

Departmental boastfulness aside, these are terrific events because of the way they showcase the depth of great teaching across disciplines at the University of Illinois. And even if we come from departments with wildly different intellectual cores, we all know that teaching matters and in a sense we all share the same students and participate in the same campus-wide teaching mission. When I hear about the research accomplishments of outstanding faculty members in other areas--nuclear engineers, say, or faculty in the department of finance--I don't always know what their publications and awards mean because they are so far outside of my own area of professional competence. But when I hear about the wonderful ways that faculty in these other departments teach and mentor, I know exactly what it means and exactly how important it is.

So I love attending these events, and not only because the catering is after all pretty good!

This year, I was of course delighted to able to lend my voice to the chorus of acclaim for Tony, who is indeed a really extraordinary teacher. But I also loved hearing what students and colleagues in other departments had to say about the many excellent teachers being honored from other departments and colleges all over campus.

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