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English Department Executive Summary

Background

The English Department is located in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. A Department Head, reporting to the Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, directs the faculty of the English Department and is responsible for the undergraduate and graduate programs. A Coordinator of Composition, responsible to the department head, directs the Composition program and directly supervises the graduate teaching assistants. A Graduate Coordinator, responsible to the department head, coordinates the M.A. programs, advises all M.A. students, and coordinates their plans of study.

The undergraduate program offers the Bachelor of Arts degree in English (Option A) or English Education (Option B) while it offers minors in English, Professional Writing, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

The graduate program in the department offers the degree of a Master of Arts (M.A.) in English both in face-to-face and online formats. The department works closely both with other departments in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and with the Graduate School.

The department offers a number of general education core courses, including Composition I and Composition II, and several humanities courses, including Literature of Diverse Cultures, Women in Literature, and Literature of the American West. In addition, the department also provides many service courses to students across the various colleges and departments of the university (such as Technical Communications). We provide courses in the Honors College curriculum, including Composition I and II and Honors Colloquiums.

We work closely with other departments to ensure that students are aware of course opportunities both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students from other programs who are interested in education as a career goal often enroll in our Methods of Teaching English course. Graduate students in other graduate programs utilize our graduate courses, especially in the areas of creative and professional writing.

Since the last program review, the department has greatly expanded curricular offerings via the internet. Course offerings include: Basic Writing, Composition I, Composition II, Introduction to Literature, Juvenile Literature, World Literature, Women in Literature, Topics in Literature, Technical Communications, and Creative and Professional Writing (graduate level).

The department has been working on updating and improving the curriculum, including a major curriculum revision in 2016 followed by the implementation of a formal assessment plan in 2018. Some courses include creative writing classes, professional writing classes, peace and conflict studies classes, capstone classes, and study abroad classes and/or other opportunities for credit (such as internships). Finally, the department has developed an impressive commitment to service-learning projects and implementation. Many courses in the department incorporate service-learning projects.

In terms of research, scholarship, and creative activity, the department has developed a diverse and expanded research agenda, based on the specialty and interests of faculty members. These activities range from literary criticism to composition and rhetoric studies to linguistics to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL).  It is important to note the context of the scholarship and creative activity in the department given the extensive teaching and service roles of each faculty member. In 2010, the course load for tenure track faculty was decreased from a 4/4 to a 3/3 to allow for greater research productively. As a result, the research profile of the department has expanded significantly.

The role of outreach, service, and engagement is a critical role in our department. In addition to serving on college and university level committees, many of our faculty hold positions of leadership outside of the university in discipline-related organizations. Our department is also committed to providing community service.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A. English
  • B.A. English: Writing Specialization
  • B.A. English Education
  • English Minor
  • Professional Writing Minor
  • Peace and Conflict Studies Minor (inter-disciplinary)
  • M.A. English (by thesis, portfolio, or exam; on campus and online)

Enrollment

  • 80 total undergraduate English majors per year
  • 20-30 new majors per year
  • 10 Graduate Teaching Assistants and 20+ graduate students overall

Current Staffing

  • Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty: 12
  • Open Tenure Track Faculty Lines (FTEs): 0
  • Instructors/Lecturers: 12
  • Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs): 10
  • Graduate Students (Includes GTAs): 20+
  • Temporary Instructors: 4
  • Support Staff: 1
  • Technology Fellows: 1
  • Work Study: 1
  • Total (Active Staff): 41

Additional Contributions to the Campus Community

In addition to offering courses that support student learning, the Department of English provides courses and programs that contribute to other programs across campus in a number of ways, including:

  • Offering courses that fulfill system-wide goals.
  • Offering several minors that fulfill the college’s graduation requirement.
  • Supporting other academic majors and programs on campus, such as Journalism and Mass Communication, Communications Studies, American Indian Studies, Global Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
  • Providing co-curricular activities that are available to all students, such as Oakwood Literary Magazine and the Great Plains Writers Conference
  • Working collaboratively with other programs and departments to offer service-learning opportunities.
  • Providing culturally enriching opportunities through lectures and conferences such as the Harding Distinguished Lecture Series and the Consider the Century Conference.
  • Providing courses that are included in the Honors College curriculum.

Goals and Challenges

The Department Head has identified the following as the English Department’s significant immediate goals and challenges:

  • Increasing enrollment in all majors and minors as well as in both graduate programs.
  • Ensuring that our curriculum remains cutting-edge.
  • Exploring more possibilities for online instruction, especially during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Emphasizing and practicing diversity in curriculum as well as in recruiting/hiring of faculty, instructors, and graduate students.
  • Securing course release for untenured faculty and faculty involved in significant research projects.
  • Monitoring enrollment pressures in General Education courses (staffing, scheduling, enrollment caps, and financial and physical resource issues).
  • Anticipating potential loss/reduction of Internet Incentive Funds to support research and travel as well as computer/technology needs.
  • Securing a permanent endowment for both Oakwood and the Great Plains Writers' Conference.
  • Tracking graduates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.