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Image is of Dr. Stephen Spencer
Dr. Stephen Spencer

The English Department recently adopted a new mission statement: “Through the study of literature and writing, the Department of English prepares students to communicate effectively, think imaginatively, and live wisely in a diverse world.” As our new mission suggests, we are a department committed to student success. This commitment to students is reflected in our new location in the Orr Center, where we have been able to provide dedicated space for our student organizations, including Sigma Tau Delta, the Medieval Studies Society, the Student Writers Union, and Fishhook.

In the past year English majors presented their work at the first annual USI English Department Undergraduate Research Conference, traveled to New Orleans to attend the national convention of the international English honor society, and participated in the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville for the second year in a row.

Our graduates continue to achieve success beyond USI. Christopher Dickens (’08) received his MFA from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and won The Florida Review Editor's Award for nonfiction. He was recently awarded a prestigious MacDowell Fellowship, joining a list of writers who have received the fellowship that includes James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Michael Chabon, and E. L. Doctorow. Susan Ryan (’09) completed her MA at the University of South Carolina and is now pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University. English Teaching graduates at USI continue to excel and pass licensure exams at high rates. Our institutional score places USI’s English Teaching program in the top 15 out of 43 institutions of higher education in Indiana, ahead of seven other state institutions.

These kinds of accomplishments are possible because we offer resources and opportunities that help students achieve success:
-Faculty who are accomplished teachers and scholars offering courses in creative writing, literature, English teaching, and rhetoric and writing.

-Innovative partnerships, such as a new Minor in Entrepreneurship for English Majors in partnership with the College of Business, internships with area businesses and organizations, the River Bend Writing Project, which provides resources for students and teachers in the region, and the College Achievement Program, a cooperative program between USI and participating high schools which helps students enter college more prepared.

-Creative Writing Programs, such as the RopeWalk Visiting Writers Reading Series, Southern Indiana Review, a nationally-recognized journal of art and literature published each fall and spring, and FishHook, a cutting-edge art and literary magazine, showcasing the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art of University of Southern Indiana students.

English majors develop their creative capacities, acquire a broad range of experience in the liberal arts, and develop the ability to think critically about themselves, the world, and complex ideas. English majors also develop effective communication skills through the practice of reading, writing, and speaking. These are important skills for success in any profession or for graduate study. To learn more about what you can do with an English major, follow this link:

If you are interested in learning more about the English program at USI, do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to schedule a visit to meet with me, an English faculty member, or our students.

Stephen Spencer, Ph.D.
English Department Chair