Alum wins research award

Eric Gardner (’89) recently received the Earl L. Warrick Award for Excellence in Research from Saginaw Valley State University. The award is given each year to one of SVSU’s 300 faculty members for making “a significant and longstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge.” Gardner, who went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, teaches American literature at SVSU and has served two terms as department chair. His scholarly work focuses on 19th-century African American literature and includes Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009), three edited books, more than a dozen articles for journals like African American Review and Legacy, and several entries for reference sources like the African American National Biography. Choice recently called Unexpected Places a “provocative and important study” in awarding it a four-star “essential” rating.

Faculty nominated for Student Senate Professor of the Year

Two English professors—Joanne Diaz and Wes Chapman—were among the five finalists for this year’s Student Senate Professor of the Year. Students voted for their favorite professor outside of the Commons en route to the dining area, and this year they selected Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Montgomery. The last time an English professor won was 2008, when Mike Theune was honored.

Alum wins grad school award

Molly McLay (’06) has received the Marietta Stevenson Award from the University of Illinois School of Social Work. The award is given to a graduate student with a policy interest who’s displayed strong leadership in class projects, student organizations, and/or community/internship experiences. Molly was honored on a plaque in the School of Social Work and received her award at a ceremony yesterday, when she was also inducted into the U. of I. chapter of Alpha Delta Mu, the national social work honors society. A double major in English-writing and women’s studies while at IWU, Molly is currently pursuing her MSW with a mental health concentration and an interest in sexual health policy.

Titan TV seeks scripts from students and alums

Rachel Paturi (’13), the new executive director for Titan TV, is looking for students and alums to submit screenplays for either TV shows or short movies that would be produced by people already involved with Titan TV or 9×9 film club, which is currently directed by Grant Flyte (’13).

Content is wide open. Reality shows, sitcoms, dramas—even animated scripts will be considered. Because Titan TV is a closed-circuit network there are no FCC restrictions on content, but programming manager Steve Lessaris (’12) will ultimately decide which scripts will be produced.

Two shows are already in the works for next fall. One is a sitcom (“A Common Misconception”) about a psychiatrist who’s just started his practice, and another is a sitcom (“The Guys Next Door”) about four guys who live in a dorm suite. Titan News is also scheduled. But there are a lot of time slots open for next fall, since one of Paturi’s goals is to reclaim channel five for all student programming, rather than the second-run movies that are currently being shown. Paturi said that the soft deadline for shows to be considered for the Titan TV fall line-up is at least two weeks before the semester begins. Submissions and questions can be directed to For more information about Titan TV, see their blog.

There will be bags . . . at the senior picnic

A reminder for seniors that the traditional English department senior picnic will be held Wednesday, April 21, from 4-7 p.m. at the home of Jim and Zarina Plath, which is six blocks east of campus. It’s a registered event, so please remember to walk (take Graham Street till it dead-ends and look for us on the right) if you plan on having anything to drink. Bags will be set up in the backyard and bocce ball in the front yard, so you can team up with your favorite professors or play against them! And of course there’ll be plenty of food and drink to give you a fun break from (or reward for) studying this Reading Day. See you there!

Two English majors honored for campus/community service

At the traditional senior dinner, English-writing and religion double major Garrett Rapp was announced as winner of the Student Leadership Distinguished Service Award for Student Service to Campus Life. The senior from Harvard, Illinois (who ironically turned down Harvard in favor of the University of Chicago Divinity School) received the award because he was largely responsible for changing the look and format of The Argus campus newspaper while also beefing up content. Former Argus staffers and current faculty and staff have been emailing all year long to say how the paper has never looked better.

Also at Senior Dinner, Mark Kasperczyk, a double major in English-literature and physics, was honored for his distinguished service in cultural leadership. He received the award in recognition of his work with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender issues. Kasperczyk was behind the lobbying effort that got IWU to change its anti-discrimination statement to include “gender identity and expression” and he was also instrumental in spearheading National Coming Out Day  events on campus.

The two were among five seniors in all majors who were honored for their campus and community leadership/service.

Reminder: poetry and fiction reading today!

At 4 p.m. today in the Merwin Gallery, student winners and runners-up of the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction will read from their entries. It’s a good way for writers to see what caliber of work is winning the contests, and a great way to end the semester. Plan on coming early or staying late in order to check out the senior art show too.

Featured readers today are BethAnne Roberts, Mike Whitfield, Osama Awan, Layla Chapman, and Garrett Rapp.

Terkla wins all-university teaching award

After 2010 Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence winner Wes Chapman rocked Presser Hall with a witty and erudite talk that questioned why happiness isn’t a part of liberal arts college mission statements, Professor Dan Terkla was announced as the 2011 recipient.

Terkla is the seventh current English department faculty member to win the all-university teaching award, but it’s the first time that the department has had back-to-back winners.

It’s not the first teaching award for Chapman or Terkla. Chapman  received two teaching awards while a graduate teaching assistant at Cornell, and Terkla received the all-university teaching award at Dickinson College.

Also at Honors Day, Professor Barb Bowman, who retires at the end of this semester, was accorded Professor Emerita status, and additional student awards were announced. Senior Nathan Butters received the W.E. Schultz Award for Excellence in Media Management for beefing up the Titan TV news operation, while two-time Argus sports editor Ashley Jaconetti won the Harvey Beutner Award for Journalistic Excellence. And current Argus editor Nicole Travis was voted the Ashley Wilson Award for Argus Staffer of the Year by her peers. Probably just as important to Nicole, a rabid Cub fan, was that the Cubbies came from behind to beat Milwaukee!

Chapman to speak on Honors Day, an important one for majors and minors

Professor Wes Chapman, the 2010 Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching honoree, will deliver the keynote talk at this year’s Honor’s Day Convocation, Wednesday, April 14, at 11 a.m. in Westbrook Auditorium, Presser Hall. His topic? “Happiness and the Liberal Arts: Three Movements,” which couldn’t be more appropriate. As Wes’s students well know, he has a habit of seeing things in more than one part, and he enjoys encouraging students to likewise see the complexity of things.

This year a number of English majors and minors will be honored, including recent inductees into Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society (David Buesing, Kerry Erin Devitt, Mark S. Kasperczyk, Laura Spradlin, Amy Christine Bannon, Casey Hamm, Hannah Kiefer, and Nicole Travis) and Gamma Upsilon Media Honorary Society (Jeff Danzinger and Jackie Connelly). At the Phi Kappa Phi induction ceremony, the keynote talk (“Alaska Boots”) was presented by Professor Alison Sainsbury.

Grad School Info-Meeting to be held Tuesday, April 13

If you’re thinking about grad school, then think about coming to the Grad School Info-Meeting this coming Tuesday, April 13. At 4 p.m.  in the English house seminar room, Professor Joanne Diaz, the newest member of the department (who can actually REMEMBER grad school), will hold an informal strategy session to help students who are planning on or perhaps undecided about attending graduate school. Topics covered will range from submission strategies to save you money and stress to things to look for in a program. Confused about MFA vs. MA or PhD? Here’s the place to find out the difference and what impact a decision might have on your professional life. That’s Tuesday, April 13, 4 p.m. in the English House seminar room.