Masks are required as the campus is at red status.

Chair’s Welcome

Welcome to the UCA Department of English! As the newest member of the department’s full-time teaching faculty, I recently found myself in much the position you likely occupy now: wondering about the goings-on within this department and considering whether to join it. I am so pleased I decided to come on board and encourage you to do the same.

The UCA English Department boasts a faculty of excellent scholars. Those same scholars translate their intellectual and creative achievements into first-rate courses in support of our newly revised undergraduate major and minor programs, as well as our MA in English. These courses are characterized not only by their rigorous instruction in critical reading and writing, but also by their dynamic, polyvocal nature. Students are the central pole around which UCA English courses orbit; student voices are welcomed and developed inside and outside the classroom, and on the page. Likewise, students, staff, and faculty together form a genuine community of learners, one that celebrates the diversity of its members and their interests.

Perhaps that all sounds intriguing to you, and yet you nevertheless find yourself worrying about whether an undergraduate or graduate degree in English is “practical.” After all, many of today’s job markets are global in nature and incredibly competitive. As the first man in my family to graduate from college, I assure you that I understand that concern. Yet I assure you, too, that the study of English, when pursued with an open mind and real commitment, is eminently practical. The truth of today’s job markets is that they change so quickly that a savvy approach to an undergraduate education or an MA degree cannot solely consider the salary one earns in his or her first, second, or even third job.

That’s short-term thinking about a long-term investment. Instead, a savvy approach to one’s degree must foreground of the habits of mind and character that that study will inculcate. In this, English plays second fiddle to no other discipline. Studying English will make you a stronger reader, writer, and oral communicator; you will become more comfortable exploring diverse cultures and traditions, and challenging diverse ideas and ideologies. Furthermore, you will learn how to disagree without being disagreeable—a skillset in dramatically short supply today.

Most importantly, through the study of English, you will develop greater self-knowledge and self-confidence. By learning to read the stories of others carefully and generously, and by learning how those stories are crafted, you learn to read and write your own story. It is in this way that English becomes an especially practical pathway to a career and life about which you can be proud.

If you are interested in discussing a major or a minor in English, or you are considering our outstanding MA program, stop by Irby 317 to talk. We look forward to seeing you!

Dr. Ty Hawkins
Chair and Associate Professor
Department of English
University of Central Arkansas
Irby Hall 317I

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