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Bev

Senior Teaching Faculty Bev McQuinn

We’d hoped this fall that she’d be back with us, in a classroom doing what she loved so much. We are so sad to be saying goodbye instead. “Beverly Jane McQuinn, 66, of Ft. Collins, died after a brave battle with cancer, surrounded by family, on Sun., Aug. 28, 2016.” A well attended memorial service was held on Friday, September 9th.

“Bev was born July 16, 1950, in Chicago; grew up in Wheeling, IL, graduated from Wheeling High in 1968, and moved to Ft. Collins in 1974. She earned her B.A. and M.A. at CSU, where she taught English since 1983. Her greatest joys were gardening, reading, Rockies baseball, teaching, music and spending time with her family and many neighbors and friends,” (from Source).

The last update to Bev’s faculty page on the department website (which Bev wrote) said, “Ms. McQuinn has been teaching at CSU for 30 years. Her courses have included lower-division literature classes (E 140, E160, 232, 237, 245, 270, 240, 242), and lower- & upper-division composition classes (CO 130, 150, 300, 301A, & 301C). She has taught an Honors class and has graded Placement and Challenge exams, serving several years as a Table Leader. She was a Lecturer for three years, teaching composition and supervising GTAs, and has served on Undergraduate, Evaluation, and Executive Committees. She was advisor to the Science Fiction Club, and has mentored new Special Instructors. From 2009-2012, she was an Upper-Division Composition Admin/Instructor. She holds a Senior Instructorship. She was born & spent her youth in Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Ft. Collins in 1975. She enjoys organic gardening, music, cooking, movies, history, and spending time with her family. And reading, of course!”

Putting this post together, collecting memories has been tough. Each day, a few more trickle in. Each email reminds me that it’s really true, she really is gone, and I just can’t get my head around that — certainly not my heart. Bev was one of the most optimistic, determined humans I’ve ever known. We had many long conversations in which I helped her through various technology issues and she always promised, “this time I’ve got it!” only to come back some time later with a crooked grin and a giggle, confessing she needed help “again.” Her willingness to be completely honest about her foibles was endearing and I never minded spending the time with her. She was so eager to learn, never stopped trying and never lost her sense of humor. Even though she’d already been here for 30 years, some delusional part of me thought she would always be here.

Bev teaching one of her Composition classes, Fall 2012

Bev teaching one of her Composition classes, Fall 2012

From Department Chair Louann Reid: “Bev was such an important part of the department for more than 30 years. She was one of the first people I met when I began my career at CSU, and I always appreciated her generosity in sharing teaching materials that first year. She set an example with her optimism and determination, even through difficult times, including this final battle with cancer.  I will miss her very much.”

From Assistant Professor Todd Mitchell: “Although I often encountered Bev around the halls of Eddy, and she often had a kind greeting and words of solidarity to share with me, it wasn’t until a completely unexpected encounter with Bev, on a plane fight back to Denver, that part of her essential character came into focus for me. The plane had been delayed, and my two daughters (then around two and five years old) were starting to lose it. Passengers around my wife and me began to look at us with dread as my girls fidgeted and whined with increasing fervor. And then Bev appeared over the back of one of the seats. She recognized me right away, and her greeting was full of a sort of genuine warmth that I hadn’t experienced all day, dealing with delayed travelers and frazzled airline folk. What was even more remarkable, though, was how she started to talk and play with my girls, as if she was a favorite aunt who just happened to be in the neighborhood. She engaged both of them with such interest and easy familiarity that my girls immediately calmed down. My wife and I experienced the first break we’d had in many hours then, which gave us a chance to center ourselves as well, so that when the plane finally took off, travel seemed a series of wondrous adventures again, rather than a series of inconveniences and disappointments.

After that encounter, when I saw Bev in the halls of Eddy, I thought of her as a colleague and a tremendous teacher (as I’m sure many others did). But secretly, I also thought of her as a very different sort of teacher—one who helps others not just with what she does in the classroom, but with the way she goes through life. A sort of guardian angel who swoops in right when you need help the most, and you don’t even realize it. She will be well missed.”

Retired Instructor Anne Reid shared a few pictures, “Thinking of Bev’s courage and optimism, I remembered some photos of our fun-loving colleague’s 50th birthday party a ‘couple’ of years ago (July 2000).”

Bev's 50th Birthday Celebration

Bev’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Bev's celebrating her 50th birthday, along with Doug and Marcia Aune

Bev’s celebrating her 50th birthday, along with Doug and Marcia Aune

From Senior Teaching Faculty Debra Walker: “I remember, after having my first child, Simon, Bev found out that Simon’s birth date and year and her grandson Jesse’s were the same. She was so tickled by that, and we spent the next 17 years comparing notes on these two boys, as they grew from chubby babies to young men. Sometimes we were proud of their accomplishments, and other times we were rueful of their antics, but we always loved those boys of ours. Bev lived at the nexus of her family, her friends, and her scholarship, and she loved all three so much. I learned so much from her (she was my CO250 teacher when I was an undergraduate at CSU), both as a teacher and mentor, and as a dear friend.”

From Associate Professor Sue Doe: “When my husband took a job in 2005 at Western Illinois University and we were looking for houses there, Bev chimed in that she had gone to college for a time at Western and could make some recommendations. We then shared a number of stories about hot, humid Illinois summers and how much we sometimes missed them because I, too, was from Illinois. Bev’s fond recollections of central Illinois were a source of encouragement to me and reminded me of how much I missed and valued the place that I am from. I was also struck during Bev’s memorial service that so many of us made the trek from Illinois to Colorado, becoming committed transplants but never abandoning our central Illinois roots embracing the value of hard work and the pleasure found in simple things.

In Bev’s and my day, we mostly came to Colorado for the 3.2 beer, but something got hold of us and we stayed. Bev, I will think of you every time I return to the place we are from as I often head back to your hometown of Chicago–the best city on the face of the earth–or what Sandburg described as that ‘Stormy, husky, brawling/City of the Big Shoulders.'”

From Marnie Leonard: “Bev McQuinn brought joy and positive energy to her students and our department, and she will always be in our hearts.”

Sue Russell, Sheila Dargon, and Bev McQuinn at John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell's retirement celebration

Sue Russell, Sheila Dargon, and Bev McQuinn at John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell’s retirement celebration

From Sue Russell: “I’ve known Bev for the 21 years I’ve worked in the English Department – she was one of our core group of Composition Placement Exam graders. I know that in the summers, when Steve was unable to be present for a grading session, he would often ask Bev to be table leader. I really miss the old days when all the graders gathered in the summers to grade the hundreds of placement essays – that’s when we were still able to provide food for our sessions. I know that sometimes Bev would bring beautiful bouquets of flowers from her garden. I’m sad to say that I only got to see her garden this past year, since her diagnosis with colon cancer – but, what a lovely garden she had. Bev really loved teaching and her students and was very sad when she had to make the decision not to teach this Fall 2016 semester. Bev will be missed, but I’m so very glad that she didn’t have to be in pain for too long. I also want everyone to know that Bev really found comfort and love in the signature quilt that Terrie made. Bev said that when she couldn’t fall asleep at night, she would pull that quilt around her and read all the words of love from her friends here in the English Department! Bev knew that she was loved and that we all really cared about her!”

From Upper Division Composition Instructor James Roller: “Bev was a dear, kind soul who was fun to be around and who could lift you up and give you hope in the bleakness of winter finals and evaluations. To those who may be new here, or who didn’t get the chance to know her, I want you to know that to me Bev was a true heart of the department. She taught me to trust my fellow teachers and she showed me that we all share in a fragility that is inherent in the position we occupy. In an environment that so strongly favors the intellectual, we intelligent people can sometimes forget the human part of the humanities. This was never a problem for Bev. She was unafraid to express her frustrations with the things that confront us, and she gave me a chance to be of real help to a dear coworker now and then. She taught me how to endure in our environment by teaching me how to ask for help, and showing me that I had help to give back. I will miss Bev dearly for all of the wonderful, amazing things she was.

When I visited Bev during her cancer, I got an opportunity to learn much more about her. I learned that this wasn’t the first time she faced life-threatening disease. I learned more about what a fighter she was. Though she was physically small, she had tremendous power. If it was not apparent, it was because she didn’t need to present herself so. She worked with us for thirty years, summers too, and she did the things we all do to get the job done like losing too much sleep, drinking too much coffee, and missing out on times with friends and family. She was at the doorstep of retirement and a well-deserved rest, and even when sick, she tried to come back to teach some more. Bev was a tough woman, but she touched the lives of so many in such a caring and compassionate way that those who may not have known her well might have overlooked that toughness.

Her life was dedicated to empowering and educating others. She was loved by her students, and she will be dearly missed by her coworkers. I was lucky enough to get to know her better as she left us. She leaves me wondering why we don’t look in on each other more often in health as well.

What more is there to say? Anything good, and especially to each other. Let us not forget that we are all here to do the same good in this world with our lives, and let us regard each other in this way. We share in the work she did, and we should strive to fill the void of kindness and compassion that Bev’s passing leaves behind.”

Bev McQuinn and Christina Sutton

Bev McQuinn and Christina Sutton

From Senior Teaching Faculty Laura Thomas: “Bev and I were the best of work friends. Our friendship thrived in hallways, doorways, around conference tables, huddled around a screen. Yes, we did occasionally socialize off campus, but usually with others from the English department. That we met and nurtured our relationship at work diminishes its value not at all. Instead, because we saw each other regularly in Eddy between classes, at meetings, or grading placement exams, we didn’t have to plan or arrange spending time together. And because we both cared so deeply about being the best teachers we could be, we shared the joys and burdens of a lifelong quest. Bev brought out the best in so many of us. Her enthusiasm for learning propelled her unending love affair with literature and gathered like-minded students and friends to her side. Her unflagging sense of humor made facing even the most frustrating tasks or bureaucratic inanities bearable. Above all, Bev was real and Bev was kind. It is in the most ordinary moments that I miss her. When I stand alone heating my lunch at the microwave next to her office, I know something of what we’ve lost: the possibility of another moment in the hallway, face-to-face with an admired colleague and a dear, dear friend.”

From Instructor Terrie Sandelin: “Oh, Bev. When I started grad school in 1985, Bev was here. I’ve been trying to remember how long we shared an office — sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years? A long time. We were a little of an Odd Couple — my desk was an oasis of neatness while Bev scattered tumbling piles everywhere. If there was any flat surface remaining, she put a plant on it! (They always thrived, too).

Over the years she had EPIC battles with the computer. There was the time I heard her speaking vigorously at the it because she couldn’t find her files. I discovered that for months she had just been hitting Save. She had no concept of file structure. There were documents Everywhere! I sorted them out for her and made a chart — Go here, Don’t go here! I wrote Ctrl-C = Copy, Ctrl-X = Cut, Ctrl-V = Paste on a little scrap of paper. She kept it taped up next to the computer for years. Till the paper yellowed, the edges curled, and the ink faded. Computers and Bev — not so compatible!

But ask her anything about Shakespeare! She was such a dedicated teacher and so present for her students. I’ve heard so many wonderful things from her students over the years. And Bev and I shared so many conversations. We talked books, of course, and family and anything and everything. She was so involved and so engaged. So loving. I’m going to miss her more than I can possibly say.”

Bev checks out the remodeled Eddy Hall during the first employee walkthrough ob the building

Bev checks out the remodeled Eddy Hall during the first employee walkthrough of the building

From Professor Barb Sebek: For most of the time that we knew each other, Bev and I were ‘Eddy hallway friends.’ Her lively ‘Hi, Barb!’ in our shared Chicago accent will always ring happily in my ears. Our last conversation in Eddy Hall was in October 2015, just a day or two before she was going to have surgery, during the fall semester that ended up being her last semester of teaching. At the time, Bev was planning to return to her classes after recovering from the surgery. A student in one of Bev’s courses that fall semester came to my Shakespeare II course in Spring 2016 with particular eagerness and excitement for reading The Tempest, thanks to Bev’s stimulating teaching of the play in her course.

Because Bev and I chatted so long that late afternoon in October, I rode home from Eddy at an unusual time, and was treated to the unexpected sound and sight of hundreds (thousands?) of migrating sandhill cranes in the skies over campus. I stopped my bike to marvel at the sight and sounds and to snap some photos (see below). There is something otherworldly about the distinctive warble of these evolutionarily ancient birds during flight. When I told Bev about the experience and how our conversation led to my witnessing the thrilling spectacle, she said that there was ‘really something mystical’ about this experience that we’d indirectly shared. May all the sandhill cranes of the universe warble to you, Bev. We’ll all miss you so much.”

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

 

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~from Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub

John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell

John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell

This past week, John Calderazzo stopped by my office for some chocolate before heading to his last class — the final meeting of his last class ever at CSU. Once he discovered I had chocolate in my office a few years ago, John started stopping by sometimes before class, even helped stock my supply, and we’d spend a few minutes catching up. On this particular day, we talked a bit about how weird it was that he was headed to his last class, what a strange thing to be in the midst of such an ending, such a big transition, how unreal it seemed to both of us. It’s like that quote, “the days go by slow but the years go by fast” — I took my first class as a graduate student with John almost 15 years ago, and just spent the semester on a committee planning our department retreat with SueEllen, and the time between feels more like a few years than the decade and a half it really was, and that’s only half the time John and SueEllen have been at CSU. I still can’t quite wrap my head around an English department without them in it. And yet, that’s exactly what is happening.

At a special event last week, we celebrated John and SueEllen’s retirement. Current faculty, staff, and students, along with family, friends, and alumni gathered together in the Greyrock Room at the Lory Student Center. There were snacks and something to drink, a cake for later. As people entered, there was a table where they could write a message for John and SueEllen on large index cards which would later be collected into an album. With John and SueEllen by the door, greeting people and being congratulated, it almost had the feeling of a wedding reception receiving line, except in this case it reminded me of the lines from that Mary Oliver poem, “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms” because it’s this particular kind of wonder and warmth that John and SueEllen embody.

The crowd gathers

Guests 1

Guests 2

John and his brother, Rich

John and his brother, Bill

SueEllen's mom on the far right

SueEllen’s mom Nancy on the far right, friends Nancy and Barry to her left

Sue Russell, Sheila Dargon, and Bev McQuinn

Sue Russell, Sheila Dargon, and Bev McQuinn

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After some time eating, congratulating, and catching up, Department Chair Louann Reid opened the presentation portion of the festivities. She started by saying what we were all feeling, “We’re not the least bit happy they are leaving, but so happy they were here.” She gave thank yous for all those involved in planning the event and to all those who attended. She then said about those who would follow her at the podium, “The speeches will be brief even though we are English people — we understand brief; they will be English brief.”

John, Louann, and SueEllen

John, Louann, and SueEllen

Debby Thompson came first. Her task was to “talk about SueEllen Campbell’s career in roughly five minutes,” which early on in her drafting made her realize she’d have to leave a lot out.

In her four books and over 30 articles, SueEllen has written on everything from Samuel Beckett and mystery novels to critical theory, ecocriticism, and nature writing. I want to note how readable, indeed how beautifully written, even her most “academic” essays are, and also how unpretentious. There’s a sense of generosity about them, an invitation to wide and diverse audiences to join the conversation.

Debby went on to say that SueEllen is “probably best known for her foundational and enduring work on nature and the environment” and that her “boundary-crossing between post-structuralism and nature writing is just one example of the true interdisciplinarity that she practices.” She listed just some of the course titles of classes SueEllen taught, a mind boggling range of topics. “To all these courses, SueEllen has brought passion, dedication, and integrity. She’s beloved as a down-to-earth teacher who challenges students to dig deeper and deeper, and to ask tougher and tougher questions rather than settling for answers.” (Her students from her final course, “Literature of Ice and Cold,” were in the back of the room, standing around a table they’d nicknamed “the Arctic Circle”).

Debby closed noting SueEllen’s importance to her personally, as a colleague and a role model, a writer and a scholar.

SueEllen with her students at the "Arctic Circle"

SueEllen with her “Literature of Ice and Cold” students at the “Arctic Circle”

Next up was Steven Schwartz, who also had the daunting task of having only five minutes “to tell you about a man whom I’ve known for thirty years and frankly I love dearly.” He shared that John is “a teacher, an author, a loving husband, a devoted uncle, a world traveler, a backpacker, mountain climber, kayaker, python hunter, a journalist, a national speaker, a field and track enthusiast, a dog lover, an environmentalist, and a man I recently watched do five, count ‘em, five handstands on his 70th birthday.” John is also a storyteller.

John has a remarkable ability to find stories everywhere in the world and shape these narratives, whether on paper or spoken, into illuminating and often entertaining reflections about our existence on this planet. He’s a masterful communicator of the stories that make us most human. They may be small stories, porthole views on our collective experience, or more sweeping ones that investigate societal forces, but they are always told with a commitment to speak out of a passion for the lived life.

Dave Reid, John and SueEllen watch from the audience

Dave Reid, John and SueEllen

Steven went on to share stories from his “John journal,” a record he’s kept of stories John has told him over the years. He talked about John’s impact on his students, sharing an excerpt from something alumnus Steven Church wrote about him. Then Steven talked about John’s writing, by sharing something John had written, saying “I hope you can hear the loveliness in that passage, the yearning and intimacy, the comfort of those words to any reader who has experienced that lost feeling and come out of it by the grace of nature. That is how John came to be among us in Colorado, by way of his heart but also by way of finding his voice as a writer.” He ended by sharing his most recent entry in his “John journal,”

He was telling me recently about his students and how he not only cared about them as writers, but how, in fact, he cared about them first as people. If they became writers, well, that was great, but if they became editors, or grant writers, or reporters or did something else with their lives, that would be fine. “Mostly,” he said, “I’m interested in their happiness, and if I’ve contributed a small measure to that with my instruction, then I’m fulfilled.”

Steven and Debby

Steven Schwartz and Debby Thompson

Atmospheric Science Professor Scott Denning got up to speak about both John and SueEllen next. They’ve worked together doing education and outreach about climate change. He talked about how John and SueEllen taught scientists the importance of speaking from the heart, of story telling, of speaking a truth that “ripples beyond the university to the larger world.” He ended by echoing Louann’s opening statement, saying he was “sorry they won’t be working here anymore, but it’s been so great having them.”

Scott Denning

Scott Denning

Then it was time for the people in question to speak for themselves. SueEllen went first. She talked about how in the past few weeks “reality is getting real,” and that it was the first time since she was about three years old that she didn’t know what she’d be doing next year, but the time ahead was full of possibilities and a new openness. She spoke about how she was “deflected” from law school by way of a graduate degree in English. She said that her formerly shy self never saw herself as a teacher, but her first moment in a classroom another side of herself emerged. As a writer, she turned from modernist fiction to nature writing because of a love of the outdoors, and shifted from academic to personal writing due to a “low boredom threshold.”

SueEllen at lectern 2

While at CSU, she’s taught over 50 different classes and has appreciated the ability to follow her interests. She appreciates the “civility and warmth of the department” and has “felt surrounded by friends.” She ended by referencing a recent New Yorker Cartoon where a couple is standing in the entry of their apartment looking at their mail. One of them reads an invitation and says to the other, “Should we even go to this farewell party if we’ll never see them again?” SueEllen closed her speech by saying, “Thank you for coming to my farewell party. You will see me some more.”

Finally, John stepped up to the podium, saying how good it was to be among so many friends. “I can’t imagine a better present than being here with you all. I’m thrilled and humbled.” He reminisced about his first visit to campus, when he thought to himself, “If I apply here and get the job, will I like it?” 30 years later, surrounded by friends, he can answer that question, “yes, a million times.”

John at lectern

CSU for John has been not so much a job as a place to grow and evolve. He was able to explore his passions and curiosities. He talked about his experiences reading, learning, and doing outreach, about making the world a better place and contemplating the beauty along the way.

He shared the sweetest story about teaching a group of elementary school kids to write poetry. He told them to write a poem about what they are not. Quickly, a student finished the exercise and rushed up to show it to John. The poem was about being the fattest girl ever, 10,000 pounds, about getting sick and dying, going to Heaven and being so fat it broke, and crashed back to Earth. In this way, Earth was filled with Heaven and “no one was ever mean.” He said that the English department was, “Earth filled with Heaven.” “You’ve been my friends, an inspiration and fun to be with too.”

Along with many of us in the crowd, Louann was in tears when she returned to the podium. It’s hard to see good people go. As Louann closed out the speeches, she said that no one had mentioned John and SueEllen’s “productive contrarianism,” how good they are at making us think differently, to reconsider how we are doing things and come up with a better way. She mentioned the Words for the Earth award being created in their honor. The program ended with a standing ovation and more tears, and Louann calling “let them eat cake!”

cake

The cake

I saw John again a few days later, pushing a cart of books down the hallway, in the process of cleaning out his office. He thanked me again for the things I’d posted to the blog, the memories I’d collected, and in reference to the celebration we’d held for them, he said “It was one of the best days of my life.” As we parted, I felt myself still unable to say a real good-bye, unable to believe they were really leaving. In that same way some keep a light on, a fire burning, ever hopeful and prepared for a return, I will always have chocolate in my office, just in case.


A special thanks goes to Stephanie G’Schwind for all the great pictures of the event, some of which were used for this post.

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The upcoming issue of the College of Liberal Arts enewsletter, where this post will be featured, is a special issue in which all the stories feature development-focused content that showcases the impact of our CLA donors. We were asked to contribute a story “about the impact of a scholarship on a student’s time here at CSU, a faculty member who was able to complete a research project due to a donor gift, or a profile piece on a major donor to your department.” After giving it only a little thought, our obvious choice was to write about Deanna Ludwin — a two time alumna, 16 year faculty member, and a dear friend of the English department. It was a joy working with Deanna to put this profile together.

Embracing One’s Community through Giving

Deanna Ludwin, at Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Deanna Ludwin, at Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Deanna Ludwin is nothing if not invested in CSU. She first entered the community by way of the English department as a graduate student.

Soon after my husband, Gary, and I made our home in Fort Collins, in 1978, the English Department became an invaluable part of my life. In 1980, I began taking graduate-level classes so I could renew my secondary teaching certificate and return to teaching once our younger son was in school. Gary had joined The Fort Collins Women’s Clinic and, as one of only three physicians in the practice, often worked 70- or 80-hour weeks, so I was the primary care giver for our two children. Graduate school — with its accomplished and encouraging faculty and bright and lively students — provided me the intellectual stimulation I sought and the support I needed to complete an MA in Literature.

Before completing her MA in 1988, Deanna started teaching at Poudre High School but continued to attend lectures, colloquia, and readings at CSU even after completing her degree. She took a creative writing class, and soon was back in her beloved English Department, earning her MFA in Poetry in 1995.

Less than a year later, Professors Pattie Cowell and Richard Henze invited Deanna to join the faculty as coordinator of the English Department Internship Program and the Creative Writing Teaching Program for graduate students teaching introductory creative writing courses. She also taught undergraduate creative writing (all levels of poetry and intermediate fiction) and Introduction to Poetry, as well as a graduate course in grant proposal writing. Deanna co-directed the Greyrock Institute, a summer program that later became The Greyrock Writers’ Festival, and taught a graduate course to secondary teachers.

Throughout my time at CSU, I was warmly accepted as a student and a colleague. I’d found a home in the English Department, nurtured by fine intellects and generous hearts. So it was only natural that I would want to encourage others in their intellectual and artistic pursuits.

Deanna working with a student intern

Deanna working with a student intern

Deanna felt fortunate as a student, having access to the programs she wanted right in her hometown, not having to deal with moving or paying out-of-state tuition. “But during my time as a student, then faculty member, I encountered students who were struggling to balance academics and economics.” Accustomed to paying tuition for their two sons, Deanna and Gary decided to put that money toward helping other students once their sons completed their degrees.

In 2003, Deanna and Gary established the Tremblay-Crow Fellowship for graduate students in the Creative Writing program. In 2005, they established the Smith-Schamberger Fellowship for literature students. Both merit-based fellowships honor professors whose talents, inspiration, and tireless efforts contributed to the many successes of these programs and their students, and both are intended for graduate students who do not have teaching assistantships in the English department; fellowship monies are deposited directly toward tuition. Although she is not involved with the selection of the recipients, Deanna often receives letters from students telling her how the fellowship monies have provided them with much needed assistance. Deanna and Gary also established the Crow-Tremblay Alumni Reading Series, which supports the visits of MFA program graduates who have recently published books. “Over the years, the amount of our contributions has varied; some years we are able to contribute more than other years. On occasion, others’ contributions have supplemented ours, but the fellowships are in dire need of additional support.”

During her time at CSU, Deanna was a valued member of the English community. As an MFA candidate, Deanna was awarded the John Clark Pratt Award “for excellence in creativity, scholarship, and service.” As a faculty member, she received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Liberal Arts (2003), a Best Teacher Award from the Alumni Connection and Student Alumni Connection (2006), and two Golden Apple awards from the Organization of Graduate Student Writers. Deanna felt appreciated, “which certainly has something to do with my desire to contribute to the department.” Deanna continues to be important to the English community, joining us for readings, retirements, and other department events—when she is in town.

I retired after sixteen years, ready to enjoy more time with family members (most of whom live in Iowa, including my parents, ages 95 and 90; and Gary and I now have four grandchildren, ages three to fourteen). In addition, I’m traveling every chance I get (we recently returned from Cuba) and am working on an investigative memoir. I continue to serve on the Colorado Review Advisory Board and to host potlucks for visiting writers. Of course, I still count many former colleagues and students among my dearest friends.

Deanna with Justin Hocking at a potluck she hosted for him, a visiting writer and English alumnus

Deanna with Justin Hocking at a potluck she hosted for him, a visiting writer and English alumnus

Deanna spent her early years on a farm in Iowa, “in a family for whom giving was natural — though we never referred to it as ‘giving.’ If a need existed, someone responded to that need.” Deanna is passionate about the arts, including the arts of research and writing, whether it’s termed creative or critical.

Little Deanna in Iowa

Little Deanna in Iowa

According to my mother, I was writing before I learned to read. My mother read to me every day — and my father read me the “funny papers” on Sundays. I was enamored with the pleasure and power of language and, after I learned to read myself, at age five, I delighted in my interactions with other lives, other places, other cultures. My parents owned few books, but we had an abundance of children’s books and visited our small-town library often. I wanted to create such magic myself, of course, and spent hours making little rhymes and stories. For serious students of language, literature, and culture, these creative impulses persist.

Students who pursue English degrees are well aware of the ways their studies deepen self-reflection and connect them to others. Engagement in the arts promotes involvement in cultures other than our own, too, and if I can add to these scholarly pursuits in any way, I feel compelled to do so. Such riches belong to all.

Deanna is also the founder of Books for Humanity, a project in which volunteers deliver a bookcase and reference library to every existing Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity family. She’s also on the steering committee for Fort Collins Habitat’s Women Build and several English Department faculty members have contributed toward the building of two houses for single-parent families.

Deanna is a wonderful example of someone who has invested effort, money, and heart into her community, and the benefit has both been hers and ours. When asked why she gives, Deanna responded,

Why do I give? I wish I could provide an enlightening, instructive answer, based on recent theories and studies, but giving seems to me simply a way of participating in — no, embracing — one’s community. To do so, people offer whatever they’re able to contribute: time, talent, energy, ideas, perspectives, money. Each does what she can to nurture the health of the whole.

Thank you, Deanna! We appreciate you and what you give, so much.


Colorado State University’s purpose is to ensure students can realize their dreams and impact the world through access to innovative and relevant academic programming, an incomparable student experience, extraordinary faculty and staff, research and new knowledge discovery to solve global challenges, and state-of-the-art working and learning environments. Find out more about how you can help.

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Colloquium: a usually academic meeting at which specialists deliver addresses on a topic or on related topics and then answer questions relating to them.

A few times each semester, the English department hosts a colloquium. All department faculty and graduate students are invited. We gather, with fine appetizers and drinks in hand, to enjoy one another’s company and hear about the work that our colleagues are doing. For the first colloquium of this year, there were four presenters, and English Department Communication Intern Ashley Alfirevic attended, took some pictures, and wrote a reflection to share. The presenters were:

  • Ellen Brinks talked about her experience leading students to Livingstone, Zambia, this summer through Colorado State University’s Study Abroad program (and African Impact).
  • Dan Beachy-Quick talked about the Crisis and Creativity Symposium he hosted this summer as part of his Monfort Professorship.
  • Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor talked about their work this summer creating pop-up museums around Hudson, New York, for the Prison Public Memory Project.
Presenters Ellen Burns, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor

Presenters Ellen Burns, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor

~by English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic

Admittedly, I felt a little nervous walking into Department Chair Louann Reid’s house. This open house colloquium would be full of sophisticated grad students and professors, colleagues in an intimate space, and I felt woefully immature in comparison.

“It’ll be fine. This will be great on the blog,” I concluded. When I opened the door to walk in, a little bit of the siding on the screen immediately fell off. “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, I broke the door to the Department Chair’s house!” I thought. It was a small piece of plastic and Louann insisted it wasn’t important, but I was mortified, convinced it was a bad omen for the rest of the evening.

However, the warmth and the friendliness from both the people I knew and the ones I had just met suppressed my undergraduate-esq panic and quickly gave way to conversations about the documents from the Pop Up Museum that Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor set out on the table.

The old documents from the New York State Training School for Girls fascinated all of us milling around the table. A reform school for “delinquent” girls in the twenties and thirties, the documents ranged from formal, typewritten causes of admission – usually “willful misbehavior” – to handwritten letters to mom from homesick teenagers.

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After appetizers and drinks, we sat down to listen to the creative activities faculty were engaging in outside the classroom. Addressing their inspiration to create their programs, the unexpected problems they faced, and the outcomes they didn’t expect, Ellen Brinks, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi, and Ed Lessor all talked about the summer projects that changed the way they look at teaching.

Ellen began, saying that an independent trip to Zambia made her wonder how CSU students could make a real impact in a leaning environment without fundamentals like textbooks. After quick approval from CSU Education Abroad and some lengthy convincing of parents following the Ebola crisis, Ellen gathered together a group of undergraduates for a life-changing experience. “Sometimes failing is the best thing that can happen,” she said of her students.  When teachers in Zambia didn’t always come to class, the CSU students were left to come up with ideas to teach the energetic kids, inventing sentence relay races. Learning from the collectivist culture of the Zambian children, who often help each other grasp new material with each of their individual talents, the CSU students came together to form a community of support for one another. “Zambia was a flower that continually opened for us,” Ellen reflected, adding that growing from challenges in unfamiliar environments and experiential learning is crucial to the developing student.  Plus there were more picturesque moments, like “a lunar rainbow over a waterfall.”

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project.

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project during the trip to Zambia this summer.

“Funny you should say that about the lunar rainbow – that’s what inspired my project,” Dan joked.  His Crisis and Creativity Symposium emerged from a desire to bring humanities back into the way science deals with the major crises of our day, bridging the gap between STEM and the liberal arts. “With these crises, you either recover from them or you don’t,” he said, wanting to create a repository for mutual knowledge by gathering together faculty from all different branches of the university. Through the sheer amount of detail and planning that went into the symposium, “I learned about myselves… I mean myself,” he laughed. “Some of myselves definitely divorced during this process, and I don’t think they’ll be talking anytime soon.” While the workshop mostly confirmed things he “had long suspected,” he wanted to help return such workshops to their studio roots and help bring our philosophies back to a state of theater and play.

spontaneous poem

A spontaneous poem emerges at the Crisis and Creativity Symposium during a Maker’s Space session led by Michael Swaine, a core member of an artist collective called Futurefarmers, and Del Harrow, a sculptor and Assistant Professor of Art at CSU

 

“Do we have anything about waterfalls for this segue?” Tobi asked Ed. Their project came about through a “Pandora’s box of stuff” found at a garage sale, where a local New York woman purchased the box full of documents from the Training School. Tobi was contacted to work on the project, and she worked in tandem with Ed with his anthropological expertise. The Pop Up Museum itself came about through a series of challenges when trying to find ways to bring the documents to the community. Little quandaries, like worrying someone might eat all the cookies when they had a limited budget for such things, were contrasted with more ethical dilemmas like whether the documents detailing prisoner’s STD test results fell under HIPA. The project emphasized a need to give voice to those former female inmates and to give a voice to those who want to learn about it now, bringing the connections out of academia and into the public.

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At the end of the evening, everyone reiterated how wonderful it was to hear the creative, innovative ways our English Department was making an impact outside of the classroom. It no longer mattered whether I was an undergraduate; the pride in our faculty and our department was unanimous for everyone in the room.

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iowa

 

Andrew Altschul was the Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University. He earned an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and was Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing from 2002-2004 at Stanford University. He has published two novels as well as short fiction and essays. He received an O. Henry Prize in 2007 for “A New Kind of Gravity,” and his first novel,Lady Lazarus was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award in Fiction. He has taught undergraduate and graduate fiction workshops as well as literature courses such as Evolution of the Short Story, 20th Century Fiction, and a graduate seminar in Postmodernism and Postmodernity. Finally, he has significant administrative experience. As the Director of the Center for Literary Arts, he has written grants and raised funds for the nonprofit literary center that hosts approximately 25 events a year, and he initiated and funded Writers@ Work, a program that pays local authors to visit English classes.

What brought you to CSU?  

I’ve spent the last thirteen years in the Bay Area, first as a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford, then teaching at San José State University and directing the Center for Literary Arts. San Francisco was a wonderful place to start out as a writer and teacher, but I’ve been eager to join a first-rate creative writing program, with talented and dedicated faculty, where people have a real sense of possibility and excitement about the future. When I visited CSU in March, I was bowled over by how happy people are to work and study here, and I was impressed by how strongly the department and the college believe in the value of writing and the arts in general. I could tell this was a place where my energy as a writer and a teacher would fit in well. And I loved Fort Collins, with its arts and its outdoor culture and its microbreweries – my wife and I have always wanted to end up in a college town, so it feels like a great fit.

 

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Andrew and his wife, Vauhini, and son, Kavan at a Grateful Dead reunion concert.

 

What is your favorite thing to teach? What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Of course I love teaching workshops, and I’m a die-hard believer in the value to young writers of having their work closely read and discussed by other writers. I also very much enjoy teaching craft and special topics courses, particularly when I can challenge students to see something new, more complex, or more mysterious about how writing works; to reexamine the conventions and orthodoxies they’ve inherited; and to forge connections among writers working in different genres or even different art forms. I’m constantly dreaming up new classes and I hope to offer many of them at CSU.

How would you describe your teaching style, your philosophy?

I take it as a given that we don’t know what we’ve written until it’s been read. What that means is that a workshop helps us to understand what readers perceive in our work, and how that might differ from what we thought or hoped we’d written. That, to me, is tremendously exciting: the opportunity to find new possibilities in a story, to discover there’s more to it than we were conscious of. So I run the workshop as a process of excavation and discovery, not one of praise and disapproval. I honestly don’t care whether students “like” or “dislike” a manuscript; I don’t think it benefits a writer to know that or helps them decide what they want to do next. We’re not there to have a referendum, or to reach some kind of consensus. What we’re there to do is provide the writer with as many perspectives on a piece of writing as we can, to discuss how the work speaks to other literature and to the world outside the classroom, to broaden the writer’s sense of what she might say.

I think being a writer is a great privilege and also a great responsibility. It’s difficult, what we do – and so I give wide latitude to writers who are working hard to create something new, to find their voice, to add to the great conversation we call literature. I do all I can to encourage and facilitate and guide that process. On the other hand, I have little patience for those who are lazy or show-offy or think of writing as a hobby or a popularity contest. You’ve got to go all in.

 


I think being a writer is a great privilege and also a great responsibility. It’s difficult, what we do – and so I give wide latitude to writers who are working hard to create something new, to find their voice, to add to the great conversation we call literature.


 

Are you working on any special projects right now?

I’m in the very late stages of writing my third novel. Which means all I can think about is how desperately I want to go back to writing short stories.

When you’re not working or teaching what do you like to do?

Travel, read, hike, cook (badly), practice yoga… though in all honesty writing and teaching take up the vast majority of my time. My two big goals for life in Fort Collins are to start a vegetable garden and to learn how to cross-country ski. Also, one day I’d like to teach myself how to play the cello.

 

me, k, beach

Andrew and his son Kavan.

 

What are you doing with your summer before you start teaching?

Well, my wife and I had our first baby, a boy, in April. So my summer has involved a lot of diapers and not much sleep. We spent most of it in Seattle, with my mother-in-law, so we did get to enjoy the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, including time at the beach (see photo) and a few days in the San Juan Islands, before coming back to San Francisco to prepare for the move to Colorado.

The highlight of the summer, however, was taking my wife and infant son to the Grateful Dead reunion concerts in Santa Clara, CA in June. I was a pretty big fan back in the day (fifty-five shows!), so it felt weirdly meaningful to see the band one more time and to share it with my son. I’m sure he’ll have vivid memories of the occasion.

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Neil FitzPatrick recently graduated from the MFA Fiction Program at CSU and was hired to teach College Composition (CO150) this coming fall. We are excited to have him!

Neil_FitzPatrick

What are you most excited about for teaching at CSU?

I’m just excited about being in the classroom again. I’m feeling a bit rusty from the off-season, so to speak. Plus I taught beginning creative writing last semester (as a graduate student), and I’m looking forward to applying some of the techniques I developed in that class to the CO150 curriculum.

What do you like most about teaching in general?

There are few greater feelings than watching a student or group of students become engaged with a subject and learn/improve over time. I love the feeling of reading a student paper and being surprised or challenged by something that’s on the page. And of course I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the captive audience aspect, the ability to point to something that’s made me think or that I’m excited about and say, “Look! This is great!” or, “This is important!”

 


“I love the feeling of reading a student paper and being surprised or challenged by something that’s on the page.”


 

How would you describe your teaching style, your philosophy?

I won’t presume to be able to answer this question yet, especially not in a few sentences. I do believe that students need to be challenged. There’s no quicker way to alienate a classroom than to condescend.

When you’re not working or teaching what do you like to do?

Teaching takes up a lot of time. This will be my first time teaching four sections of CO150, and I’m not optimistic about the amount of free time I’ll have. Some of the time I do have will hopefully be spent writing and reading. I’ve been building up a daily habit this summer. Other than that I’ll be hanging out with friends, cooking with my girlfriend, running, watching too much television/going to movies. I moved here from New York three years ago and discovered pretty quickly that I’m not much for the mountains. I’m working on it.

leslee and neil

Neil FitzPatrick and CSU English Professor Leslee Becker

What are you doing with your summer before you start teaching?

I spent a month this summer taking advantage of a Brooklyn office space that I had as part of A Public Space‘s Emerging Writer Fellowship. I sublet a room in Fort Greene and wrote (or read/researched/submitted/tried to avoid Facebook) for a few hours every day at a desk in the magazine’s offices. I’m trying to finish the collection I started for my MFA thesis. The last couple weeks I spent traveling in the Northeast visiting family and friends. I got back to Colorado yesterday/am looking forward to spending the month writing and prepping for the semester. This rain is bumming me out.

What is something most people at CSU do not know about you?

I think a lot of people know this by now, but I have a twin brother. He’s getting his biology PhD at Columbia. Don’t believe anything he tells you about me.

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Some of the recent publications and award winners from faculty and alumni

Some recent and award winning books from faculty and alumni

New faculty publications and awards reveal the diversi­ty of scholarly and creative strengths in this department.

  • Sue Doe and Lisa Langstraat, Generation Vet: Composition, Student-Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University
  • Zachary McLeod Hutchins, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England
  • Tobi Jacobi (with co-author Ann Folwell Standford), Woman, Writing, and Prison: Activists, Scholars, and Writers Speak Out
  • Todd Mitchell, Backwards, winner of the 2014 Colorado Author’s League Award, and a finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Awards
  • Sasha Steensen, House of Deer
  • Steven Schwartz, Little Raw Souls, 2014 Colorado Book Awards Literary Fiction Winner

 

It’s been a productive time for not only the publication of books but also for essays, poems, book reviews, and cre­ative nonfiction pieces. Current and emeritus faculty with new work include (but are not limited to) Leslee Becker, Tony Becker, John Calderazzo, SueEllen Campbell, Pam Coke, Pattie Cowell, Mary Crow, Sue Doe, Judy Doenges, Camille Dungy, Aparna Gollapudi, Stephanie G’Schwind, Roze Hentschell, Tobi Jacobi, Lisa Langstraat, Ellen Levy, David Milof­sky, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Airica Parker, Dan Robinson, Bruce Ronda, Jill Salahub, Barb Sebek, Sarah Sloane, Debby Thompson, and Bill Tremblay.

 


We are also happy to share the news of recent alumni publications.

 


In other publishing news, the Center for Literary Publishing’s grant request to the National Endowment for the Arts has been funded for 2015 in the amount of $15,000. The grant will go toward printing, mailing, and author payments for Colorado Review and to support the publication of two new titles in the Mountain West Poetry Series (forthcoming in June and November 2015).

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