Pfeiffer appointed as new English department chair

Kathleen Pfeiffer, associate professor of English, has been appointed as the new chair of the English department. Pfeiffer was appointed by Ronald Sudol, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Pfeiffer will replace the current chair, Susan Hawkins, who is retiring after this semester.

Pfeiffer expressed excitement about the position and the potential for impacting her department.

“I see it as a service to my colleagues,” Pfeiffer said. “In our department, it’s always been the tradition to make major decisions by consensus. I’m looking forward to cultivating a sense of community within the department.”

Pfeiffer, who recently pioneered an undergraduate biography course based on her successful graduate course, will have a reduced course load with her role as English chair. The role is a compromise for Pfeiffer, who enjoys teaching.

“I like being in the classroom, it’s fun. It’s a real pleasure,” Pfeiffer said.

Assistant English professor Bailey McDaniel thinks  her dedication to her students will help her do her new job as chair with excellence.

“In addition to being one of the most professionally accomplished and respected scholars of our department, she is a powerfully gifted teacher who inspires, challenges, and motivates her students,” McDaniel said. “As an award winning teacher who cares so deeply for her students, Dr. Pfeiffer is also a wickedly smart scholar who makes all of us in the department look good by virtue of her many respected publications and her very large brain.”

Pfeiffer has been teaching at the university for 15 years. She has been meeting with Hawkins to discuss the future of the role.

Hawkins, who has been chair for the last five years, cited some of the challenges that Pfeiffer will face.

“The biggest challenges have to do with managing a department with three major programs, a number of new and younger faculty, increased numbers of part time faculty and ever greater demands from the administration in terms of assessment, recruitment and retention,” she said.

English chair responsibilities include, among other tasks, scheduling, handling student grievances and professor absences, creating and overseeing committees and solving managerial oversights.

Pfeiffer volunteered for the position and said her colleagues supported her appointment.

Kevin Grimm, associate professor of English and former English chair, said he was confident in Pfeiffer’s ability to do the job.

“I think she’s got most of those skills. She’s very organized-she knows how to get things done,” Grimm said. “She’s very willing to seek advice and input. That’s very important. That’s a very good blend. I’m very happy about her taking over as chair, I think she’ll do a really great job.”

Although she hasn’t officially started her new role, Pfeiffer said she has gotten a head start.

Pfeiffer’s first role as English chair will be to participate in the organization of convocation, the opening ceremony for students on Aug. 15.


Contact Staff Intern Mark McMillan via email at [email protected] and Staff Intern Katie Williams at [email protected].