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, September 17, 2010

Some impressive faculty awards!

This past Wednesday I had the distinct pleasure of attending a reception and ceremony in honor of this year's recipients of the prestigious University Scholar award. I went in support of my wonderful colleague, Lauren Goodlad, who was one of the honorees. This award is Big Deal on campus, as faculty in all colleges and all departments are eligible, and I am really pleased that Lauren won the award this because I know there is nobody more deserving of this kind of recognition. Hooray!

It is also wonderful for English as a department to have a new University Scholar (our first since Catherine Prendergast won the award in 2008). Michael Hogan, the new president of the University of Illinois system was there at the awards ceremony, as were all the central leaders of our campus's academic mission and the dean of our college: so in addition to honoring a very deserving faculty member, an event like this is a really great opportunity to showcase the strength of English to influential campus leaders. It may sound funny to say this, but I'm really grateful to Lauren for providing this opportunity!

While I'm on the subject of impressive faculty awards, I have a couple more to announce here as well.

Renée Trilling was named Helen Corley Petit Scholar for 2010-11, an honor given annually to exceptionally successful newly-tenured faculty members in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences based on their outstanding work as scholars and teachers.

And, last but by no means least, Ricky Rodríguez, was named one of this year's Conrad Humanities Scholars, joining last year's recipients Michael Rothberg and Trish Loughran as English Department faculty holding this title. The Conrad Humanities Scholar program is actually a relatively new honor, one made possible very recently by the extraordinary generosity of Arlys Streitmatter Conrad.

In addition to the honor and distinction that these awards convey, each carries with it some modest research funding. Compared to our colleagues in the sciences--whose labs can cost millions of dollars to run--our research needs are relatively modest as a rule. We sometimes need to be able to travel to a library or an archive, we purchase books and computers and the like, and we sometimes find ourselves in need of a research assistant to help with projects that require the assembly of a lot of disparate information. These things are comparatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, but being able to afford them can make a HUGE difference in the ability of humanities professors to be able to undertake and complete ambitious work. Awards like these--which in fact make it possible to meet the kinds of modest research expenses that humanities scholars encounter--can therefore have a major impact upon a given faculty member's research career.

These are the kinds of posts that make me very proud to be head of such a superb department. Congratulations to all of our recent award winners!

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