The Department of English and Comparative Literature congratulates Professor Mary Floyd-Wilson on her time as department chair since 2017. Prof. Floyd-Wilson is a Mann Distinguished Professor who “works in the field of early modern English literature, primarily drama placed in cultural, social, and intellectual contexts.”
To honor Prof. Floyd-Wilson’s work as department chair as she leaves this position this summer, we asked her to reflect on her time in the position. Serving as chair during a tumultuous time for the department, the university, and the globe, Prof. Floyd-Wilson discusses her experience and how the department has changed.
Prof. Floyd-Wilson helped usher in many advancements within the department over the past five years. She cites “the revision of our English and Comparative Literature major, growing our new concentrations, revising the website, creating our DEI committee, expanding and growing the DLC and the HHIVE, planning and executing our 225 Celebration, and the creation of the Departmental History Timeline” all as major accomplishments that took place during her tenure as chair.
These impressive accomplishments occurred amidst significant challenges at the university, in the nation, and around the globe, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Floyd-Wilson explains:
“We saw an acceleration in retirements with little college support in making tenure track hires, which has significantly reduced the size of our department. Top-down changes in the budget structure have left us (and all departments in the Arts and Humanities) with fewer resources for our faculty and students while also decreasing our agency. We used to gather in person, host guests on campus, and interact regularly in the hallways—I hope that in the future we can move away from Zoom meetings and reestablish our in-person communities.”
Despite the many highs and lows of serving as department chair during such a tumultuous time, Prof. Floyd-Wilson has “many fond memories” of the past five years:
“Every hire we managed to make has felt like a triumph. Creating the graduate lounge, the Greenlaw Gameroom, and the new DLC space were wonderful moments. I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet Lorrie Moore, Gillian Welch, Tayari Jones, Kevin Young and so many talented people over the years. I marvel every day at the amazing accomplishments of my students and colleagues—who are not only productive and creative but also kind and generous. Even in the face of all our challenges, I always felt like I was working with a very supportive community.”
As Prof. Floyd-Wilson leaves the position of chair, she looks forward to “working on [her] current book project, spending more time with [her] family, and doing some activities purely for pleasure.”
Thank you for your time as chair, Prof. Floyd-Wilson!