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, December 23, 2013

Semester's End and Winter Convocation

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the LAS Winter Convocation, during which a few hundred students received their BA, MA, and PhD degrees.

Although there were relatively few English students graduating mid-year, I was still pleased to be part of the festivities. The Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts was filled to the brim, and it's always a moving moment to see students honored for years of hard work.

I especially liked hearing the applause and shouts of family and friends when particular names were called--even though the college requests guests "to withhold their applause" in order "to enhance the dignity and ensure the smooth flow of the ceremony!" Who can exercise that kind of restraint when their loved one is being recognized for such an achievement?

Although department business continues into the holiday break, the convocation also marked the end of my first semester as department head. Thanks to my hard-working colleagues and the wonderful staff in the department, it has been about as smooth a first semester as I could have hoped for. More than anything, I've learned an incredible amount in the last few months about our department and about how the university works. It's been a challenge, but a satisfying one.

We have many exciting initiatives under way--from graduate student conferences to innovative course development and a new undergraduate journal--so I'm optimistic about the semester to come. We also have three searches going on and I am confident we'll be adding terrific new colleagues in needed areas to our faculty in the next year.

I wish everyone a restful break and a Happy New Year!

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