Thursday, September 29, 2011

English welcomes new professor

By: Ellie Duening
Cardinal Staff

The Saint Mary's University English department is excited about the addition of new faculty member Dr. Erin Clark.

Clark takes the place of Dr. Jenny Olin Shanahan, who left SMU’s English department two years ago, and teaches English Composition, Introduction to Literature, and Dimensions of Literature.

Clark said she most looks forward to the capability and the enthusiasm of the wide variety of students here. And according to English Department Chair Dr. Carolyn Ayers, the students' reaction to Clark's teaching has been "overwhelmingly positive."

Clark said she is also excited to carry out her passion for African American and Holocaust literature.

“The most important task the humanities can accomplish is preparing young writers to communicate with the world around them,” said Clark.

Usually, the hiring process would take place over the course of an entire school year, but in this case it took place over the summer. Before hiring Clark, the English department requested approval to search for a new professor and once it was granted, a short-term search was begun, said Ayers.

Clark was among around 100 interested applicants, according to Ayers, and under a normal timeline, this opening would have generated around 300 applicants. Once the available position was defined, a search committee was formed of English department faculty and professors from different fields, Ayers said.

The committee screened the 100 applications and selected 12 to interview via telephone, said Ayers, and of these, three applicants were chosen to come to campus for a day and to visit and interview. The applicants were then interviewed in a more formal setting, allowing the search committee, the dean and the director of administration to gain a more elaborate understanding of the candidates, Ayers said.

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