UIS ENGLISH DEPARTMENT CLOSES GRAD PROGRAM

Back to Article
Back to Article

UIS ENGLISH DEPARTMENT CLOSES GRAD PROGRAM

Photographs courtesy of UIS ENGLISH DEPARTMENT

Photographs courtesy of UIS ENGLISH DEPARTMENT

Photographs courtesy of UIS ENGLISH DEPARTMENT

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Despite their efforts to revamp the program, the UIS English Department has recently closed its graduate program. Unfortunately, in spite of the success of the new-and-improved program, there were other underlying issues that ultimately lead to its closing. Though it is shut down for now, there is still hope that the program could be reopened again under the right circumstances. I spoke with Dr. Steph Hedge, assistant professor in the English Department, regarding her thoughts on the graduate program and the recent closure.*

*All comments are Dr. Hedge’s own opinions and experiences, and she does not speak for the entire department on this subject.

When did the department make this decision?“

It was a conversation we had been having for a couple of years. We knew that enrollment was lower than we wanted it to be. We have a two-track program. That means that, while we may have healthy graduate cohorts with a lot of students coming in because they then got tracked into separate classes, there might only be four or five students in a class -which wasn’t quite enough to keep the classes running. We knew pretty quickly that we were having trouble sustaining the enrollment numbers and have been having tough conversations for a couple of years now.

”What lead to the program’s closure?“

The main factor is that we didn’t have enough enrollment, and I think that there are two reasons why. One of them is institutional, and one of them has to do with the perception of English studies more broadly. We felt that we didn’t have the kinds of marketing and outreach that we were told we would have to promote this program. We did our best internally to get the word out about our program, but. we had been told there would be more marketing support. We wanted to place ads in different publications in our field, but we weren’t getting funding. We were also expected to come up with our own marketing materials, so there was a lack of, particularly in terms of money and time, support from the institution. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the program, but when it came to getting people to know about the program, we weren’t getting the support that we thought we would.” “The other problem is that English studies has been struggling to find new majors for a while. This is actually a revamp of what the English program used to be, so this was a relatively new program. We tried to respond to trends in the field by incorporating both a digital focus and a focus that was explicitly tied to careers. However, this wasn’t necessarily enough to overcome the challenges to pitching an English grad program to people who don’t necessarily see the value in higher education at all or English studies specifically.

”What would need to happen to reopen the program?“

I think one of the things that would have to happen moving forward is unconditional support from the administration in terms of time and money. We need concrete, specific resources to get this program off the ground. We’ve been so tied up in trying to get these graduate classes going that it’s been harder to put the time and energy that we need to into our undergraduate majors. That was part of the reason we decided to suspend this program. I think that one of the considerations would have to be that we can fairly serve both groups. No one wanted to see this program disappear, but without sustained, specific, and potentially expensive resources, we couldn’t keep it up.

”What advice would you give to current English majors interested in graduate school?“

For students who are disappointed that this program is no longer available, use this as an opportunity to think about programs anywhere else in the country. Think, “okay, I’m not going to stay in Springfield, so where sounds cool?” Grad school is just two years, so it’s the perfect opportunity to take a chance and do something adventurous. Think of this as an opportunity to expand your horizons.” All current graduate students within the program are given the chance to finish their degree if they wish.