With course registration for next semester underway, many English majors have noticed a significant drop in the number of English courses offered next fall. In an email sent on April 9 to all majors, Associate Professor of English Jené Schoenfeld, the chair of the Department of English, explained that this was because eight professors will be leaving next year. She assured students that as the Department of English undergoes its search for replacements, up to 18 more courses will be added soon.
According to Schoenfeld, four professors are on full-year sabbaticals, two are on half-year leave, one is moving to direct the Kenyon-Exeter program and two are retiring. She said that the staffing anomalies of this year were due to a combination of many individual decisions.
“Part of what made it difficult to offset the challenge is that the pandemic delayed the searches,” she said. Because of changes to the College’s budget, the administration authorized the tenure-track searches later than normal. The pandemic also imposed extra personal burdens on many professors that prevented them from reviewing the applications early.
According to Schoenfeld, the Department is now nearing the end of the two tenure-track searches and she expects new English courses to be added in the next few weeks. “We are hoping to hire a fiction writer, which will complement and add to our offerings in creative writing,” she said. “And the other tenure-line search is for a contemporary American literature person.”
In addition, the Department is planning on hiring two new visiting professors to help the English majors fulfill their requirement of taking at least two courses in each of the three historical periods, particularly the pre-1700 and 1700 to 1900 periods. Since the application process for visiting professors is still ongoing, she noted that a lot of courses will not be available until the Drop/Add period in the fall, meaning that some English majors may not have a decisive schedule until then.
Schoenfeld said that it is possible for English majors to under-enroll at the moment to leave a space for classes to be added in the fall.
She acknowledged the increased difficulty in the current course registration process for English majors, but she believed that the future is promising. “I have to ask for patience and flexibility and a little faith that the courses will get added,” she said.