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

Friday, August 6, 2010

Advising Office

Current students and recent alums who read this blog will concur, I know, with the following statement of objective fact: the English Department has a really helpful, responsive, friendly undergraduate advising office. Because we are a large major with several tracks and complicated requirements, and because English classes also serve gen ed requirements for students all over campus, our advising office handles a lot of traffic. And they do a great, great job of answering questions, steering students in the right directions, and, well, advising.

For the past several years, undergraduate advising duties have been split between Claire Billing and Bob Steltman. As of today (August 6, 2010) you will see their pictures--along with that of Maureen Airsman, who handles the administrative duties associated with that office--if you click through the link above to the advising office site. Claire, though, retired early this past summer. Let's see how long it takes us to update the website accordingly, shall we?

Between them, Bob and Claire have done a great job of helping our students through the ins and outs of enrollment and course selection. But they did much more than that, too, splitting between them a bunch of other undergraduate services and offering support to departmental faculty in a great many ways as well. Bob, as regular readers of this blog will know, works regularly with me, with the department's Associate Head, and with our Director of Undergraduate Studies as we work on various aspects of our teaching mission. Claire, meanwhile, managed an always-growing network of alumni mentors and sought always to put current English students interested in pursuing all kinds of careers (teaching, publishing, law, business, medicine, you name it) into contact with former English students now laboring in those very fields. Insofar as we have had success as a department in teaching our students and preparing them for life after college--and I think we have indeed had considerable success in this area--the advising office has played a very important, facilitating role.

We had a small retirement party for Claire in May, but I would like to thank her here as well for her years of good work on behalf of our students. She is, and will continue to be, missed in the English Building.

The good news, though, is that we have just hired a new departmental advisor--Adrienne Pickett--who will surely be able to pick up some of the ongoing advising-office initiatives started by Claire and who I know will soon put her own distinctive stamp on that office's important work. Adrienne comes to us with a strong, humanistic academic background in Art History and African Studies as well as academic expertise in Educational Policy and a wealth of advising experience. We are very fortunate, in my view, to have found her. It is a great relief to me to know that we will still be able to provide the high-level of advising that our students deserve and have come to depend upon.

If, dear reader, you happen to work in the English Building, please join me in welcoming Adrienne Pickett to the department. She starts on Monday.

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