BY KIRANDEEP SINGH / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER
We talked to Augustana’s Dean to find out a little more about him and his plans for Augustana!
What is something you want students know about yourself and your position?
Even though I am a very busy person by virtue of the fact that I serve as both Augustana Faculty’s Academic Dean but also as Augustana Campus’ Executive Officer, I would like people and especially students to know that I shall always make myself available to meet with students to discuss whatever they may have on their mind. Within reason, I wish to be accessible and approachable. I would also like the university community to know that. And even after working in Canadian Universities for over three decades, I continue to be passionate about my teaching and to re main committed to my research since both teaching and research have offered me—and I hope will continue to offer me—opportunities for connecting with, and indeed learning from, students.
Tell us a little more about yourself. What kind of research do you do?
I teach and research in early twentieth-century American Literature with a focus on difficult modernist texts (especially long poems), often approaching them through the lenses of poetics, translation theory and practice, prosody and rhetoric, and editorial theory and textual criticism. My research interests have taken me to such archives all over the United States and Europe, including such places as the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, the New York Public Library, and the British Library, London, UK. My undergraduate and graduate students have been trained in various aspects of modernist research, have visited archives (with SSHRC support), and have published their work in books and journals. I hope to replicate this sort of collaborative research and teaching at Augustana. I started out as an Ezra Pound scholar, focusing especially on The Cantos, his 800-plus page epic poem; but in the past several years I have been trying do more work on modernist women American poets such as H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Much of this more recent work develops a critique of male poets such as Pound and T.S. Eliot through the lenses of some very strong females voices. I am continuing this work through a SSHRC-funded project which, eventually, will produce four volumes offering scholarly editions of H.D.’s long poems, beginning with an edition of her great epic poem Trilogy, one of the best poems of the twentieth-century.
What’s your favourite thing about Augustana so far?
The way this small, liberal arts and science faculty are working methodically and carefully to develop a curriculum for the future, which includes the 3+11 calendar with the attendant emphasis on building students’ skills through hands-on, experiential learning opportunities; to help students become engaged citizens; to empower students with interdisciplinary, diverse, wide-ranging approaches to answering real-world questions; and to finally prepare them for the changing, challenging job market of not only today but also tomorrow. Now that I’ve been here for about five months and have visited several of my colleagues’ classrooms, I have also come to appreciate the excellence of our instructors (we have superb, engaged, effective teachers across the campus!) and the diversity of our student population. This year we have about 1100 students on campus, of whom about 6% are indigenous and 17% international. This diversity offers a great opportunity to all of us (students, faculty, and staff) to learn from each other and about each other—and this is a great strength that we must continue to build on.
What changes do you plan on making at Augustana?
We are already making curricular changes with the view of offering a unique academic experience to students. Of course, the current budget environment will also encourage us to be more efficient and innovative in the way we deliver our programs as well as our services. And so, change might be the order of the day for the duration of my five-year tenure as Dean—change that promises to shape Augustana students into tomorrow’s thinkers, researchers, communicators and collaborators.
Students are worried about the budget cuts. Is there anything we will be losing in terms of losing services provided on campus here at Augustana?
There won’t be many changes regarding student services or academic programs that may be felt by students in terms of their everyday life on campus and in the classroom. We are already working diligently to make sure that the integrity of our academic programs and of our student services is maintained. As already mentioned and despite the major cuts to our budget that the Provincial Government has announced, we’ll work hard in order to be more nimble, efficient, and productive and also in order to maintain and even improve Augustana students’ experience.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I believe that Augustana’s future is secure. Augustana students already receive a great undergraduate experience that combines academic and experiential training that is recognized and valued by employers locally, nationally, and internationally. Of course, Augustana students also graduate with University of Alberta degrees, something that goes a long way in ensuring fulfilling careers and lives. Despite the fact that we shall be facing some challenging times over the next few years, our students’ futures will continue to be secure and bright.
(Originally published December 11, 2019)