Jill Salahub

Contact Information

Email: jill.salahub@colostate.edu

Office: 312 Eddy Hall

Role: Faculty

Position: Administrative Professional: Editor and Communications Coordinator

Department: English

Biography

Administrative Professional, Editor and Communications Coordinator. B.A., English, Oregon State University (magna cum laude); M.A., English (Communication Development), Colorado State University, where she was granted distinction for her thesis, a hypertext entitled Fear, Happiness and the American Way: The Difficulty of a Simple Life.

Jill Salahub started at CSU as a graduate student, and during that time she worked as a tutor in the Writing Center, as a Writing Teaching Assistant, and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. After graduating, she taught various Composition courses for the English department. From 2004 until 2010, she was the Editor/Programmer for Writing@CSU, acting as a Project Director from 2008 to 2010. She currently is an Administrative Professional: Editor and Communications Coordinator in the English department, working with the department's Facebook page and blog, and acting webmaster of both the Composition Program and Writing Center websites, among other things. She also occasionally teaches CO302 Writing Online, CO300 Writing Arguments, and CO150 College Composition.

Her academic special interests include computers and composition, professional development for teachers using technology and hypertext/hypermedia in the classroom, multimodal composition, creative nonfiction writing, and writing for the Web. She has a long history of mentoring writers and teachers of all skill levels, at each stage of their process, and enjoys helping them develop their voices.

Aside from her work at CSU, Jill is a practitioner of writing, meditation, yoga, and dog. She is a certified yoga teacher and a blogger. She is recently finished an ebook based on her Self-Compassion Saturday series, and is working on two memoirs, one about how she saved herself through practice and another about her own experience with self-compassion.

Education

M.A. English: Communication Development CSU

Publications

All posts by Jill Salahub

CLA Dean Ben Withers opens the Spring 2017 CLA Awards Ceremony

Recently, the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) held their annual awards ceremony. Five members of the English department were honored. Sheila Dargon received the State Classified Award, Zach Hutchins and Kylan Rice were awarded for Excellence in Teaching, Tony Becker was presented with the Faculty Development Award, and Bruce Ronda was presented with the John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award.

When presenting the CLA State Classified Award to Shelia Dargon, Roze Hentschell said,

The College of Liberal Arts State Classified Award recognizes outstanding contributions and achievements by state classified employees. This year, the award goes to Sheila DArgon, who has been with the Department of English for the last 10 years. Sheila’s nomination letter celebrates her exemplary leadership in supporting faculty and students to ensure their success. She anticipates problems before they manifest, can handle a crisis with composure, and is a careful listener who guides students to make the best decisions about their academic careers and helps them feel welcome, comfortable and confident. She is the first point of contact for all students who come to the third floor of Eddy (thousands of students, since all Composition students come that way as well) and a fine example of the excellence of State Classified employees. Congratulations, Sheila!

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Sheila Dargon her award

Sheila Dargon
Undergraduate Program Assistant

What brought you to CSU?

I moved to Fort Collins in 2005. My sister and her family had lived here for years and I needed to start over, so I came out here and started working for a temporary agency while applying for jobs everywhere! I remember when filling out the application for a job here at the University, that I really liked the energy of being on campus, and thought it would be a great place to work. I actually got the offer from the English department on the day I would have been hired by the company I was temping!

What’s your favorite thing about working in the English Department?

My favorite thing about working in the English department is that every day is different. Some days I see and speak to a lot of students and faculty, and the next, I am working on the computer.

What’s one thing you’d like students in the English Department to know about you?

I want English students to know that I’m here to help and really want them to succeed here at CSU.

What’s your secret? By which I mean: what makes you so good at keeping track of so much information and so many people?

I have no idea, I guess when you like what you do and the people you work with, it makes it easy.

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Kylan Rice his Excellence in Teaching Award (GTA)

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes one outstanding teacher in each of the following categories: Tenured Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty, Special & Temporary Faculty, Graduate Teaching Assistant.

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Zach Hutchens his Excellence in Teaching Award

Zach Hutchins
Assistant Professor of English: Literature

Professor Zach Hutchins received the Excellence in Teaching Award for his hard work as a tenure track with the English Department since joining in 2013.

Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Studies Bruce Ronda introduced Hutchins’ award, calling him a “curricular innovator, brilliant scholar, dynamic classroom presenter, mentor and role-model” who is known for his “witty, relaxed and deeply informed teaching.”

From faculty to student support, Hutchins has made an impact within our own English Department. Bruce reminisced that his colleagues praised his “ease in front of the class “and his “invite interaction” coupled with “evident joy in teaching the class.”

But first person testimonials from his students speak louder than those. Bruce explained that these students “drew the attention of the Committee on the Liberal Arts.” One student said “Professor Hutchins is a no-brainer when it comes to being recognized as an excellent teacher in the College of Liberal Arts, and I’m all too happy to officially give him my personal seal of approval.”

This award will not slow Hutchins down. We were able to ask him a few questions about his time in the English Department and how he plans to continue doing what he’s doing.

 

What has been the most rewarding moment(s) at the English Department, or in Eddy?

I think my most rewarding moment here at CSU came in the spring of 2016, when students from my fall 2015 senior capstone course, “Your Success Story,” emailed me to say that assignments completed in the course had helped them secure the dream job they had targeted. I love to see student work find a second life, outside the classroom.

Do you plan on working on any projects this summer?

I’ve got too many projects this summer, but the most exciting is an essay on Herman Melville’s epic poem Clarel that will take me to London in June, for the International Melville Conference.

Who (or what) had the greatest influence on your career path?

Probably a high school teacher who was willing to talk books (and play chess!) with me after school—not just during class hours. He helped me see that literature mattered and that teacher/student interactions could be more meaningful than an exchange of paperwork.

In one word, how would you describe Eddy/the English department?

Energizing!

CLA Dean Withers presents Tony Becker with his Faculty Development Award

The Faculty Development Award, presented to Assistant Professor Tony Becker,provides support for outstanding research and/or creative activity, and is funded by participants in the Great Conversations Speaker Series.

Bruce Ronda with his John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award

Bruce Ronda
Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Studies

Bruce Ronda was presented the John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award, which recognizes faculty who have demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in all aspects of their professional responsibilities over an extended period of time. As he’ll be retiring this year, we took the opportunity to ask him a few more questions about his experience at CSU and what his plans are for after.

What will you miss most about working at CSU?

Despite its many challenges and difficulties, colleges and universities like Colorado State are still very special places.  They provide an opportunity to reflect, create, analyze, propose, and converse in company with people who are also committed to those tasks.  So I will miss spending my days in the midst of such a community of thoughtful people: students, faculty members, administrators, and support staff.

Now that you’ll be retired, what are your plans?

I have several plans for the near future, some of which will start happening even before June 30.  I’m working on two book projects, one a biography of early-mid twentieth-century American poet Stephen Vincent Benet, the other a biography of Robert Coles, child psychiatrist and cultural commentator.  Then, I’ll be away for two weeks at the end of May for a trip to Scotland.  After I truly retire, I plan to keep working on those book projects, travel to Cape Cod for our annual post-Labor Day week there, see my family in Michigan, Oklahoma, and California some more, work in the garden, and spend more time playing the piano. . . and the banjo!

What wisdom do you have to offer about working and/or studying at CSU?

Maybe the most important advice I’d give to students at CSU is to appreciate and work with the faculty. We have amazing faculty members in English, in Liberal Arts, and throughout the university, and all the ones I know are eager to talk with their students. So: cultivate your teachers, talk with them about your questions, ask about their research or creative work, see if you can serve as a grader or intern in some capacity. As for working at CSU, I’ve found that the most important relationships to nurture have been with support staff. They are the true historical memory of our departments and colleges and are truly important contributors to the teaching/learning and outreach mission of the university.

Why do you think it’s important to study the Humanities?

I want to include the social sciences, too, in my response. This is a hard question, because it goes in so many ways. I’ll limit myself to two big reasons: the first is to understand better our “moment” in time by understanding history, economics, politics, society, and forms of expression in the arts. We come into a world not of our own making, and it’s enormously important to understand the forces that made the world the way it is and how those forces are expressed. Knowing where our “moment” comes from empowers us to live in it and change it. The second is to grow in empathy. While we cannot live in another’s skin or experience, we can grow in appreciation of the vast diversity of life, human and more-than-human. Here the arts and humanities have particular value, since they present us with the lived experience of people very different from us, and yet also strangely recognizable. Empathy, I’d say, is strikingly missing from our political and social discourse these days.

What project/paper/book have you most enjoyed working on?

All my projects have provided moments of pleasure and satisfaction, as well as frustration and anxiety. In many ways, my most recent project, the book called The Fate of Transcendentalism, has given me the most satisfaction because it brings together so many of my interests explored over many years.

What course have you enjoyed teaching the most?

That’s another hard question to answer, since courses differ so much in content, students, and the whole “feeling” of the course. Several CSU courses come to mind: a graduate authors course on Faulkner and grad topics courses on Hawthorne and Stowe, American Transcendentalism, and Terrorism and the Novel, and this most recent course on pragmatism.

What was it like teaching the Pragmatism course as your last course at CSU?

While it’s true that I’ve been thinking about this course for a long time, and reading in and about pragmatism for an even longer time, teaching it, of course, was something else again. I had wonderful students from the MFA and the MA lit programs—thoughtful, articulate, interesting people doing their own work and thinking their own thoughts. Their comments illuminated the texts in ways I hadn’t anticipated, so that was a real gift. It’s equally true that I taught this last course in a very different political and cultural moment than the one in which I planned it. The entire course was inflected with our awareness of the changes brought about, and the forces unleashed, by the presidential election. I think the election made us read Emerson and James, Stein and Susan Howe, in different ways. That was painful, but good.

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The TEFL/TESL Student Association (TTSA) had another successful year filled with professional development activities, social gatherings, and community building events. As a registered GSA, TTSA strives to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, both here on campus and in the larger Fort Collins community. They do this through many activities, including the Advocacy Week, a yearly event including engaging faculty presentations and student-led colloquia, a guest speaker, and community outreach.

This year, there were many presentations, including talks led by Dr. Sue Doe, Dr. Kristina Quynn, and Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala. There were also panel presentations led by graduate students and alumni, as well as INTO CSU faculty. The keynote address given by Dr. Eli Hinkel, “Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Academic Writing,” wrapped up the week of events.

TTSA with Advocacy Week keynote speaker Dr. Eli Hinkel

For this year’s community outreach project, TTSA collected new or gently used paperback books to benefit the Larimer County Jail library. We are excited to share that thanks to all your help they collected over 100 books! TTSA thanks you for your support and donation during this project. “We hope to keep helping the community in the following year!”

 

This year TTSA also celebrated their 10th Anniversary, and their activities were featured in the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Newsletter — “Planting the Seeds to Grow and Nurture Future AAAL Leaders.” On May 11, 2017 the TTSA hosted their traditional end-of-semester picnic to celebrate the end of the school year and to say their goodbyes to graduating students. Congratulations, class of 2017!!!!

Class of 2017, and then some

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  • The Center for Literary Publishing’s latest nonfiction anthology, Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays, will officially release May 15. The production team was Cedar Brant, Dana Chellman, Cory Cotten-Potter, Michelle LaCrosse, Morgan Riedl, and Stephanie G’Schwind. The book is available from CLP’s distributor, the University Press of Colorado, or via Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, powells.com, and elsewhere.
  • Cassie Eddington’s manuscript if the garden was one of seven finalists in Kelsey Street Press’s 2017 FIRSTS! competition. Her poems will be featured on Kelsey Street Press’s blog.
  • Tobi Jacobi will deliver an invited lecture on jail volunteer training and self-care at the University of Sheffield’s workshop on the Volunteer Sector in Criminal Justice in early June in Sheffield, UK.  The workshop launches an international, multidisciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and policymakers working in the criminal justice voluntary sector led by scholars at the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield.
  • Lauren Matheny’s short story, “The Dark”, won honorable mention (second place) in the Third Coast 2017 Fiction Contest, chosen by Desiree Cooper 🙂 Lauren says, “Don’t know if that’s worthy of the newsletter, but I’m super excited!!”
  • David Mucklow’s poem “Leaving Sediment” was published in the most recent issue of Iron Horse Literary Review.
  • Kelly Weber has poems forthcoming or now appearing in Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets, Triggerfish, and Grasslimb.

Eddy 300 Lab
Summer Hours
May 15th– May, 19th, 2017
(Please stop by the English Department office
for access)
May 22nd-August 4th, 2017
10:00am-3:00pm

The Writing Center
Summer Hours
May 15th– August 3rd, 2017
10:00am-12:30pm
In Eddy Hall, Room 23
Online hours TBA

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Ashley Alfirevic relaxing with a book under the trees on the south side of Eddy Hall, a popular site for such things

Today is the last day of finals week, Spring 2017. As students finish tests and projects, and teachers wrap up their grading, it’s time to turn our attention to a very important question: What are you reading this summer? We asked the same of English department faculty and staff, and here are the books they are planning to read, or recommend that you read.

 

Department Chair Louann Reid is planning to read:

  • Unflattening by Nick Sousanis (Dissertation, Graphic Narrative)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by by Amor Towles (Fiction)
  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, collection edited by by Frances Gateward and John Jennings

 

Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub wants to read:

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction)
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Memoir)
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (Memoir)
  • Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy (Memoir)
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) – (intern Joyce Bohling agrees, wants to read this too)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Fiction)

She also recommends these classics, either revisiting them or reading them for the first time:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

 

Intern Joyce Bohling wants to read

 

Intern Katie Haggstrom wants to read:

  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami (Short Stories)

She also recommends:

  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Poetry)
  • Gravity by Robert Drake (Fiction)

 

Assistant Professor Tim Amidon is planning to read

 

Assistant Professor Zach Hutchins is reading

  • the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace (Fiction)

 

Instructor Rebecca Snow recommends:

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Fiction)
  • The novels of Marilynne Robinson: Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, and Lila (Fiction)

 

Instructor Judith Lane recommends:

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Fiction)

 

Assistant Professor Todd Mitchell says that “several of my students’ favorite book from this semester, and a great summer read” is:

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Saenz (Young Adult, Fiction)

And a book he looks forward to reading this summer:

  • Things That Are by Amy Leach (Essays)

And his wife would recommend:

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Fiction)

 

Graduate Programs Assistant Marnie Leonard says, “So many good books, not enough time to reread them, so I’m hoping to enjoy those that I can, at least once.” She recommends:

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Nonfiction)

And she is going to read:

  • A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (Nonfiction)
  • Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree by Mary Ellen Sanger (Associate Director of the Community Literacy Center in our English department), (Memoir)
  • Managed Care by David Milofsky (Professor Emeritus of our English department), (Fiction)

 

Some fun sites for finding recommendations:

 

Let us know if there’s anything you’d add to our list. What are you reading this summer?

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Scott receiving his recent Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Award for Creative Nonfiction

Scott Miller
English Major: Creative Writing

Besides your current classes, what else are you doing or have you done that we should know about? Awards? Special projects? Travel? Service work?

During my two years at CSU, I’ve received two Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Awards, for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. I’ve also been involved with Sigma Tau Delta, the honor society for English students. As far as travel goes, last summer I got to spend a week in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s always such an amazing and humbling experience to be in the middle of all of this rugged and beautiful terrain that is far, far older than any of the people who are exploring it.

What inspired you to get a degree in English? Why CSU? How did you choose your concentration?

I had actually initially intended to get a degree in psychology, and then biology while I was still in community college. I sort of bounced around between all these different choices before I discovered that my strengths really lay in writing, and at that point I had this moment where I thought, well, that sounds like I should major in English. I should say here that one of my professors at Front Range, Randy McCrain, really encouraged me to take this direction.

I picked CSU because it was an in-state school with a really excellent English faculty, and I have to say, I think it was the right choice. As far as my concentration goes, I enjoy writing fiction so creative writing felt like the only real option. I may have hesitated for a second or two first, though!

We are always trying to debunk the myth that the ONLY options for an English major are to become a writer, teacher, or work in publishing. What sort of possibility, potential do you see for yourself as an English major?

This is a hard question for me to answer, because I am a writer, and so I obviously would like to continue to write and try to get published after graduation. But I have an English major friend who has just gotten a job in insurance, and another friend who has worked in advertising for a while after getting an English degree. So I would say that, for the student who has an interest in the sorts of critical thinking and communication skills that you can obtain by majoring in English but doesn’t want to write or edit or teach, you aren’t locked down to those careers. You can pursue all sorts of careers and your skill set will remain relevant.

Scott considering an alternative viewpoint

Knowing what you do about it, how would you describe the CSU English department to someone?

It’s a diverse and interesting place, where you’ll encounter a number of different viewpoints and ideas from the students and faculty. The faculty are very supportive. Any time I’ve had a question or a problem, I’ve been able to get help. People are invested in your success as a student.

Why do you think the humanities are important?

There’s a big emphasis on STEM majors today, as we all know, and they’re all about empirical data and things that can be tested. The humanities are more about how you deal with that information, and the ethical and philosophical questions that can arise from how we use information, and how we deal with other people, also. English as it’s taught at CSU is an interesting way to see how that can work, because you’re taught how to analyze, and how to communicate effectively, and how to craft good arguments and use rhetoric effectively, and so on. In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the Humanities are more important, not less, because those skills can prompt you to ask, well, where did this story come from? Is there anything to support and corroborate this information? That’s crucial.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students?

CSU has an amazing English faculty. There are so many excellent instructors here.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?

If you want to have a life at all, try not to get into a situation where you have to take five or more classes at once during a semester. That was not my best moment.

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing?

Recently I read House of Houses by Pat Mora for a creative nonfiction class, and I thought it was excellent. It’s a magical realist memoir about a Latino family and I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Just check it out. As far as writing, I just finished another revision on a short story. I try to write something every week, but with Finals and graduation coming up, I may need to take a break at some point. Or not. Sleep is for the weak, right?

Scott hiking the trail between Bear Lake and Nymph Lake at RMNP last summer

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I’m out of shape and getting older, so last summer I picked up on hiking as a way to lose weight and exercise and actually enjoy how beautiful Colorado can be by being outside in it and not just looking out a window. The weather’s getting nice so I’m looking forward to getting out more. I also love watching movies and Imlisten to an awful lot of music. And of course I read a lot, too, which is a good thing for an English major.

Where will we find you in five years?

Hopefully by then I’ll have a career going and be able to support myself and my writing. I’m currently planning to apply to MFA programs in the Fall, and in five years I’d also like to have published a collection or a novel. We’ll see.

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A great time was had by all at Bruce Ronda’s retirement celebration

  • Harrison Candelaria Fletcher has a lyric essay, “Family Cookbook,” accepted by Florida Review. It’s part of a new collection exploring mixed-ness and in-between-ness.
  • Camille Dungy’s poem, “Natural History,” was awarded a Pushcart Prize and will be played published in the Best of the Small Presses anthology.
  • Joanna Doxey has a poem in the latest edition of the Denver Quarterly (51.3).
  • Jaime Jordan’s Digital Humanities class (E280) has created a blog showcasing some of the digital projects they’ve worked on this semester.  Check it out at https://exploredhblog.wordpress.com!
  • Second year MFA student Claire Boyles had an essay, “Failing at Important Things: A Parallel History,” place as a runner-up in Vela Magazine’s nonfiction contest, judged by Claire Vaye Watkins. The essay is live on the site: http://velamag.com/failing-at-important-thingsa-parallel-history/
  • Cedar Brant won the Academy of American Poet’s Prize for CSU.
  • David Mucklow was accepted and offered a scholarship to attend the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Workshop this summer, and will be attending at the end of June. A few weeks ago, his poem, “where Deer Creek dies into the Gallatin,” was published on Daily Gramma. You can find it on their site here – http://gramma.press/
  • Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s flash story, “A Bunny’s Kidnapping” has been accepted for publication at “Gone Lawn.”
  • Come celebrate the new 2017 Fort Collins Poet Laureate (our very own Felicia Zamora!) on Sunday, May 7 from 6-8 PM at Wolverine Farm Publick House! Enjoy readings from Felicia Zamora (MFA alumnae), John Calderazzo (professor of English Emeritus), and Michelle Deschenes (MFA alumnae). For more information, please see the event calendar listing or Facebook event page.

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Cory Cotten-Potter is a second-year M.F.A. student in fiction. In addition to his academic work, he is the assistant director of the CSU Writing Center.

 

What do you like most about your work at the Writing Center?

I like being able to quickly connect students with services that will really help them. Many students come in overwhelmed or bewildered, and if we can’t help them directly, odds are I can put them in contact with someone who can.

Do you have a favorite memory of your time at the CSU Writing Center?

My favorite moments are those when clients call in or email, saying how helpful a consultation was, and I get to pass that along to the consultants. Our consultants work extremely hard–coping with less than ideal schedules and pay–and I love it when they get the recognition they deserve.

What brought you to CSU?

The Creative Writing faculty.

Describe Eddy Hall in one word.

Tiny-desk-tiny-chair

Do you have a favorite book? Why is it your favorite?

That’s hard. At the moment, I’d have to say Mathias Svalina’s I Am a Very Productive Entrepreneur.

What’s one thing you’d like students and faculty in the English department to know about the Writing Center?

We offer video conferencing consultations, and it would be great more humans utilized this resource.

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In Spring 2016, English major Alexander (Alec) Pearson did an internship where he researched department history. He graduated at the end of that same semester, earning his Bachelor of Arts in English with a writing concentration. Alec collected and wrote a lot of material that semester. One thing he did was interview some of our previous department chairs. One of his interviews just so happened to be with Bruce Ronda, whose retirement we are celebrating in a special gathering this week.

~from Alexander Pearson

Bruce Ronda, Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Colorado State University, March 30, 2015

Bruce Ronda was the English department chair from 2001 to 2011. He joined the English Department in 1991 as visiting faculty, and became a full-time member in 1995. Before becoming chair he started and ran a full American Studies program in the department, but it had to shut down when he became the chair since there was no one else to run it. As department chair, he moved to make the English department more interdisciplinary. He also oversaw the creation of many new initiatives and programs, such as joining the National Writing Project, establishing the Community Literacy Center, expanding the Center for Literary Publishing, and creating the Changing Climates program. Opportunities for non-tenured faculty to participate in the running of the department were also increased.

After leaving his position as department chair, he became the Assistant Dean of the Liberal Arts college, the position he’ll be retiring from this year. Aside from his academic credentials, his most distinguishing feature is his tie, which he habitually tucks into his shirt. In fact, at a speech made by one of his co-workers at the farewell party when he left the English department for his current position said that, of all the things his fellow professors said about him, the single most common was “What’s with the tie?”

Interview Transcript

Alec: So, out of curiosity, how did you join the CSU English department?

Bruce: I came in 1991, as what was then called a visiting faculty member, and I taught courses in English and I also started an American Studies program in the English Department. And then I became a full-time member of the department in 1995.

Alec: Could you tell me more about the American Studies program?

Bruce: So my doctoral degree is in American Studies, which is a combination of literature and history, usually, and I taught that in my first teaching job on the East Coast, and many universities have American Studies programs, sometimes they’re free-standing, and more often they’re housed in departments, and I was asked to start one here at CSU, so I did and we borrowed faculty from English and History and some other departments. And it flourished for quite a while, but then when I moved to English full-time, and especially when I became the Department Chair in 2001, there wasn’t anyone to take over the American Studies program. So it was suspended. But I thought it was an interesting and exciting program, and there is still an American Studies course, that’s in the University curriculum, and it’s taught by a faculty member in the English department.

Alec: Interesting. So, do you mind me asking what inspired you to pursue a career in English in the first place?

Bruce: That’s a good question. So I’ve always been interested in language, in literature, in reading, and then as I went through college and graduate school I was also very interested in history, in social history, and so I found that the way that literature studies were going in those days was towards a more interdisciplinary way of thinking. So that really confirmed me in my interest in literature. So that’s what I’ve been doing, all these years.

Alec: So, more in that vein, how has the English Department changed over the years you’ve been working here, both at the college and generally across the nation?

Bruce: So do you mean since the time I came or since the time I became chair?

Alec: Well, both, preferably first since you came and then as the department chair. Like, you said that English studies in general had been becoming more interdisciplinary, could you elaborate on that?

Bruce: Sure, sure. So when I came in 1991 the English Department here, like I think at many universities, was primarily literature based. So studies of American literature, English literature, literature in translation. So in those first years when I was here in the mid to late 90s most of the faculty members were literature faculty members. There were other programs represented, but the core of the department was literature. And that was, as I said, true of many other departments as well. What has happened I think, gradually in the late 90s and especially the time that I was chair, from 2001 to 2011, was that other parts of an English Department so Creative Writing, Composition and Rhetoric, English Education, Linguistics and then in the graduate program teaching English as a second language and all those programs grew up, in a sense. They became more mature, they had their own conferences, their own journals, so many English departments changed, ours included, to be not so much literature-centered but to incorporate those aspects of English studies into the department. So that was a huge change, in those years.

Alec: Very interesting. And while you were a department chair, were you involved in a proactive way with these changes? Were you pushing for that sort of change?

Bruce: Yes, I thought it was both necessary and important so we made sure that the committees of the department had representatives from these different areas, that the assignments of graduate teaching assistants were proportional to the faculty and student population of those different areas, so yes, I was very much encouraging that.

Alec: So other than the change in inter-disciplinary programs, were there any other significant changes happening in the English department at this time?

Bruce: Yes. Yes, there were a number of changes of new initiatives that I led, or encouraged, we became part of the National Writing Project, which is a nation-wide project that encourages writing at the secondary and university level. So we’ve founded the CSU Writing Project, which is still going. I was helpful in establishing the Community Literacy Center through funding from the department and elsewhere. So that’s still going. We’ve expanded the center for literary publishing. What else, we established the Changing Climates at CSU which is still ongoing during the time that I was chair. And we expanded the representation of non-tenure track faculty members by establishing a committee for non-tenure track faculty members and including them in some of the other committees of the department.

Alec: Could you expand a bit on the ‘Changing Climates’ thing?

Bruce: Sure, sure. So that’s been an initiative of two faculty members, Sue Ellen Campbell and John Calderazzo from the English Department, and they came to me sometime in their tenures, early on I think, having department support and college support for a program that would help educate our faculty, faculty across the university really, about how to communicate about climate issues to a sometimes skeptical audience.

Alec: That’s certainly interesting. So I think that takes care of the next question I was going to ask, so could you tell me a story about what working in the English department is like, an interesting anecdote of some sort?

Bruce: What it was like during those years?

Alec: Yeah.

Bruce: Well, perhaps first not so much an anecdote but the reality is that I came in in 2001 which was the year of the WTC (World Trade Center) attacks, I left in 2011 when we were just recovering from the Great Recession of those years, 2008 through 2011, so my time as chair was kind of bookmarked by these national events. And between that time there were two significant economic downturns, so a lot of what I dealt with during my time as department chair were these challenges that came from outside. Loss of faculty positions, changing administration, changing climate in the nation, so sometimes it felt turbulent to me and challenging. On the other hand, I would say that we made some wonderful faculty hires, some of my greatest successes as chair was to hire some of the wonderful faculty members who are still here, who have contributed a lot to the department.

An anecdote, well, I always liked to dress like this, you know, to wear a jacket and tie, and I’d tuck my tie in like this, (through the second button of his shirt) because, I don’t know, it drags in my lunch or something. But when I first started at the department several people asked me if I had been to a military school, like a prep school where young men, young women too, are encouraged to tuck their ties in, and I said that I hadn’t it was just something that I learned to do. So, in the last spring that I was department chair, the department organized a kind of farewell for me, a kind of reception, and John Calderazzo spoke at that and said that he had gone up and down the halls, asking people if they could say something about me during the time that I was department chair and several people said very nice things about my scholarship and my leadership, but several people said, “What’s with the tie?” So he had to explain that it was just sort of Bruce’s quirk, so when John was done he asked me to come up to the podium and say a few words, so I went up to the podium and tucked my tie in, and people laughed. So that was an amusing little moment.

 

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~from Jill Salahub

Tomorrow the English department will be holding a very special celebration. Bruce Ronda is retiring this year, and as sad as we are to see him go, we are sending him off with our best wishes at this upcoming event. To honor him here on the blog, I’ve been collecting memories and well wishes from a few people who studied and worked with him over the years.

I myself had the honor of learning from Bruce as a graduate student, taking one of my very first classes with him, and have enjoyed his company and his leadership as I stayed on to work in the department. At one point, he guided and supported me through a very difficult time, an experience that had the potential to end my career at CSU. With Bruce’s help it instead allowed a space uniquely suited for me where I could thrive, matching what I was good at with what the department needed, and I am forever grateful to him for that.

I will miss Bruce’s dedication, trustworthiness, wisdom, and kindness, and wish for him only the best of things as he moves on. What follows, in no particular order, are more memories and good wishes.

Bruce Ronda talks with faculty and staff at the first walk through of the Eddy Hall remodel

From Professor Matthew Cooperman: I was the first TT [tenure track] hire, under Bruce’s tenure as Chair. I will always be deeply honored by the trust he showed in me, and have thought of him as a paragon of integrity. He’s been there for me, and for my family, during my time at CSU. And he’s a helluva banjo player.

Bruce Ronda and Leslee Becker at an awards ceremony in 2015. Leslee says of Bruce, “I’ve been in his house!”

From Associate Professor Pam Coke: The poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy wrote, “We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”  Dr. Bruce Ronda will always have a special place in my heart.  He is a dreamer of dreams, and he helped make my dreams come true.

It was Christmas Eve, 2001, an era where few people had cell phones.  Suffice it to say I did not have a cell phone.  Bruce called me at my parents’ house, in Dubuque, IA, on Christmas Eve, to offer me a job as an Assistant Professor of English Education.  It was the best Christmas present ever.

I have never regretted accepting Bruce’s offer.  It has been an honor to work with a man as intelligent, as principled, and as caring as Bruce.

I have been reminded of this many times over the past fifteen years.

It was September, 2003.  I had requested to meet with Bruce to discuss “a situation.”  I was not sure how he would react to my news, but when I told Bruce that Ken and I were pregnant, he smiled and told me that I had just made his week.  In that moment, I felt less afraid, less unsure.  It had been a while since any women in the department had had a baby, let alone an untenured faculty member.  I was uncertain what that would mean, but with a warm smile and a gentle hug, Bruce let me know that everything would be okay.

That is one of his many gifts.  Bruce is an active listener and a compassionate leader.  He is ethical and humane.  He is wise and wonderful.

Bruce, you have been a mentor, a colleague, and a friend to me.  Thank you for all of your advice and support over the years.  I will always remember having a cup of coffee with you when you stepped down as English department chair.  When I thanked you for hiring me, you said, “It was one of the best decisions I made as chair.”  I will treasure these words for the rest of my career, as I will treasure you, Bruce.  I wish you every happiness in the years ahead.  Enjoy retirement.

Three department chairs: Louann Reid, Bruce Ronda, and Pattie Cowell

From Assistant Professor Todd Mitchell: Thank you for all your years of service, leadership, and inquiry. You’re a true scholar, and an inspiration to many. May you continue to inspire others to be their better selves in the next chapter in your life. Best wishes.

From Associate Professor Dan Beachy-Quick: One of the things I’ve realized about Bruce, trying to write an anecdote about him, is how the man himself feels immune to anecdote. That is, something about Bruce refuses—for me at least—to fall into a short moment remembered that captures some essence of the man. Instead, when I ponder the gifts Bruce has given me, they seem in their largeness and constancy to escape the confines of the form, and so it only feels apt, at this pivot in career and life, to thank him largely for large generosities. When I was hired at CSU Bruce was chair. Coming from an art school, I realized I had no idea about how academic life actually worked. I think Bruce sensed this, and in the kindest of ways, and in the subtlest of ways, became for me a mentor—and in that mentoring, showed me the importance of long vision and patient listening, of not making a show of oneself but helping others be more seen. On lucky occasions when we could both make time, we’d coffee or a beer, and simply talk—about what each of us working on, of course, but talked in a way beyond research agendas and publishing hopes. Instead, it was (and is) a conversation in which you get a glimpse of the intellect not as a resource but as a life. That’s a mentoring, too—to see what it looks like to be involved in one’s work outside of any other motive than to do the work. It’s a vision of happiness, or so it felt to me, and feels to me still. And I owe Bruce a large debt for the vision.

Bruce at John Calderazzo and Sue Ellen Campbell’s retirement ceremony one year ago

From Graduate Programs Assistant Marnie Leonard: Bruce Ronda is an exemplary scholar, a supportive leader, and a pleasure to work with.  These descriptions are deceptively simple, yet each encapsulates a wealth of experience and insight and each engenders confidence and trust. Bruce’s contributions to the Department of English and to the College of Liberal Arts have helped make our part of CSU the best place to be.

From Professor Barb Sebek: Bruce has been a supportive colleague and good friend since I first came to CSU in 1995.  At several crucial moments in my career, he provided much needed professional insight and encouragement.  I admire his commitment to producing fine literary and cultural scholarship while also fulfilling the many duties of department chair and associate dean in the CLA.  In addition to serving together on various MA projects, faculty searches, and departmental and college committees, I’ve borrowed from his syllabus and assignments for the graduate literary research methods course and benefited from his teaching advice on countless occasions.  It’s hard to trace the influence of a colleague that has been so pervasive and so reliable.  Beyond department life, Bruce has provided many happy occasions over the years for making music together—from Purcell, Mozart, and Puccini to Gershwin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams.  Bruce’s great talent on piano and strings is matched by his knack for organization to keep his fellow musicians on task—binders and folders with song lists and lyrics, and, on some occasions, exquisite martinis to ensure a warmed up and appreciative audience.  I will really miss Bruce at CSU, but look forward to more musical adventures ahead!

Bruce in front of the fully remodeled Eddy Hall

From Instructor (Senior Teaching Appointment) James Roller: Professor Ronda was inspiring to me during my graduate studies in a spectrum of ways. His depth and breadth of knowledge in American Studies, his gentle guidance and academic patience, his enthusiasm for the growth of his students, and his continuing curiosity for his subject were at once mystifying and encouraging. He impressed upon his advisees that a world of fascination awaited discovery in every text and every new anecdote that lay beneath the leaves of literature and history. My favorite memory of Bruce Ronda spoke of his unparalleled work ethic. As I was finishing my master’s thesis, I recall sending Bruce a draft of some 120 pages of written research, only to be amazed when he returned it to me the very next day with comments on nearly every page! He is a model academic who teaches by example and shows us all what is possible with a lifetime of dedicated service to the academy.

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Poudre River, image by Jill Salahub

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We’re Hiring!

 

CLC is looking for interns!

Internship with the Community Literacy Center (CLC)

Job Description:  The intern (junior, senior or grad student) will work with the Community Literacy Center faculty to design a set of literacy research and outreach projects.  Projects might include one or more of the following:

  • working with a faculty mentor to pilot community literacy programming such as creative writing mini-classes, workplace writing mentorships, or literacy tutoring experiences;
  • investigating current policy on a national and regional level in order to understand the politics of funding public education;
  • developing training materials for community-based literacy partnerships;
  • researching and writing grant proposals;
  • working directly with a community partner in order to understand a research question (e.g. what is the relationship between socio-economics and an extracurricular book club?);
  • researching and building the CLC webpage;
  • planning and facilitating a local literacy event (readings, workshops, etc.);

developing assessment tools in order to measure how literacy skills are advanced by a particular classroom approach or set of materials;

  • working with a mentor in the CLC office to gain experience with literacy program administration;
  • designing a research study and collecting primary data on existing literacy outreach programs; or
  • an alternative project designed by you.

Interns manage one community literacy workshop (weekly, 1.5 hours) and are responsible for transcribing writing, encouraging writers with written feedback, and managing a small team of volunteers.

Credit:  Interns can earn up to 6 credits for their work.

The application for an internship is online at https://csuclc.wordpress.com/intern-resources/.  Please apply by May 5.

All independent internships must be approved by the English Department’s Internship Coordinator, Cassie.Eddington@colostate.edu.

Additional opportunity:  If you are interested in volunteer work with the CLC, go to https://csuclc.wordpress.com/intern-resources/ for more information.

 

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