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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gail Hawisher

As 2010 gives way to 2011, our numbers will be reduced by one. Professor Gail Hawisher, who has been on the faculty here since 1990, is retiring at the end of this semester. So in the new year, if you see her, you can call her Professor Emerita Gail Hawisher. On the one hand, congratulations are in order: I know Gail is looking forward to this next phase, and I bet she'll be enjoying herself quite a bit this coming semester! On the other hand, it does feel to me like a loss for the department, even though she will continue for the foreseeable future to help with the mentoring of our graduate students in Writing Studies. I guess what I'm saying is this, at the end of the day: send your congratulations to her and your condolences to me!

Gail has been a national leader in the field of Writing Studies--or rhetoric and composition as it is often called elsewhere--during a period in which that field has become increasingly important to English Departments all over the country. Our program is very highly regarded (and rightly so!), and this is due in no small part to Gail's efforts both within the institution and as a representative of it on the national scene.

Gail's work centers around computers and pedagogy, and her scholarly record is very impressive indeed: she has been involved in 10 different collaborative book projects and his author or co-author of more than 55 articles and book chapters. Additionally, her record of professional service is, frankly, awesome: for example, she has been involved in many, many program reviews, has given invited lectures and talks at universities all over the country, and has been co-editor of a major journal in the field as well as of a highly-regarded book series.

Her contributions within the institution are also important and wide-ranging. In addition to her work as Director of the Center for Writing Studies, she secured funding for and helped found the University of Illinois Writing Project, a federally funded professional development program for teachers at all levels and in all disciplines meant to encourage and support the teaching of writing. Her excellent teaching has been honored with college and campus-wide teaching awards, and at least fifteen of her former PhD students are currently employed in tenure track academic jobs.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Emerita Hawisher for all of her many, many contributions to department over the years, and of course to wish her all the best in the coming years, too.

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