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Park Hall Monitor

Park Hall Monitor

There are many changes in the Department of English, and dramatic changes in Park Hall as well.

First, new faces: When Mike Moran retired in June, I became head of the department—not a new face, really, since I arrived at UGA as the Helen S. Lanier Distinguished Professor in 2001. I’m delighted to welcome the department’s first associate chair, Esra Santesso, who barely had time to savor her promotion to associate professor before being plunged into tackling her new administrative duties. Esra is a native of Turkey and a scholar of postcolonial literature. Finally, Richard Menke succeeded Aidan Wasley as undergraduate coordinator. Richard teaches Victorian literature, with a special focus on the modern communications technologies that arose during the nineteenth century and continue to serve as the broad backdrop of all communications today, literary and otherwise. Accompanying Mike Moran into retirement this year was linguistics professor Don McCreary, whose Dawgspeak provided a savvy summation of this institution’s unique contribution to the English language.

Now, the new place: This summer the original wing of Park Hall was a hardhat zone, swarming with construction workers, engineers, and electricians laboring under a deadline to complete renovations before classes resumed in August. They met the deadline, leaving staff and cleaning crews one long weekend to transform a worksite into some semblance of Park Hall as generations had come to know it. The gains are immediately apparent. Thanks to university-wide green initiatives in infrastructure, we now have motion-sensitive lights in all the classrooms and offices (in the “old” wing), as well as a completely new cooling/heating system. Gone are the days of opening windows in winter to cool off an overheated classroom, and wearing a parka to class in fall term to compensate for the arctic blast from an ancient AC system. (Gone, too, are the days before air conditioning, when faculty competed for 8 a.m. teaching slots in the basement to avoid the standing temperature of 115 degrees on the second floor. This astonishing historical anecdote comes from Mary Hutcherson, an alumna whose generous gift to the department is profiled below.) Please stop by the newly renovated Park Hall if you’re on campus. It’s an iconic landmark of UGA with newly tweaked innards and a configuration of offices that offers, among other bonuses, an undergraduate lounge.

It’s my pleasure now to turn to another topic, one as consequential as Park Hall itself. It is thanks to the vision and generosity of donors that the Department of English encompasses such a wide range of dedicated teachers, sterling scholars, and inspiring students. I want to briefly profile a few of the endowments that continue to contribute so much to Park Hall.

The Martha Munn Bedingfield Teaching Award, established by English alum Laura Bedingfield Herakovich in honor of her grandmother, was presented to Dr. Barbara McCaskill last spring.  The award gave her a vital opportunity to conduct archival research for her latest book. The Bedingfield award, writes Barbara, “is special to me because it recognizes the value of my teaching from my colleagues, whose own excellence in the classroom I have sought to emulate over the years.” Previous recipients of the award are Susan Rosenbaum and Roxanne Eberle.

The Jane McMullan Academic Support Fund was established in 2006 by John and Marilyn McMullan in loving memory of sister Jane (AB ’53; MA ’58); Jane joined the staff of Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr., who appointed her to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee. This endowment has provided critical support to the professional development of both undergraduate and graduate students, including conference travel and funding for innovative projects benefiting the department at large.

I also want to express gratitude for two new funds that greatly enhance our ability to attract, recruit, and support talented, ambitious English students.  

In spring of 2014, the Alice C. Langdale Graduate Award in English was established. Alice received her bachelor’s degree in English in 1940. She and her husband, Dr. Noah N. Langdale, Jr. were lifelong champions of higher education in their roles as the first lady and president, respectively, of Georgia State University from 1957 to 1988. An apt tribute named for a remarkable student and campus leader, the Alice C. Langdale award will recognize outstanding graduate students in the department of English.

In December  of 2013, Mary Denmark Hutcherson (AB ’52 magna cum laude) established the H. Grady Hutcherson Memorial Georgia Access Scholarship in English.  One of the largest endowments to the department, this need-based scholarship opens the door to education at UGA. It also honors Mary’s late husband Grady (BSED ’49, MA ’51) who served the English Department for decades as a dedicated teacher and undergraduate advisor.

The Langdale and the Hutcherson awards will be presented for the first time in 2015, and I look forward to sharing news of the inaugural recipients in the next newsletter. The generous loyalty of alumni like these and other benefactors is essential to the continued excellence of our department and the caliber of our students. We all benefit — teachers and students alike — from such magnanimity. To those of you who are not yet benefactors, let me inspire you in closing with these lines from William Butler Yeats:


Look up in the sun’s eye and give

What the exultant heart calls good

That some new day may breed the best

Because you gave ...

… the right twigs for an eagle’s nest!


From assorted twigs to a whole trunk, please consider the greater good that a culture of giving can attain. Please come see me in Park 134: I would be glad to welcome anyone who cherishes memories of this “eagle’s nest.”

- Jed Rasula

For more, please read the latest version of the Park Hall Monitor, the department's newsletter.

Oscar Palacio, Cooler and Jeans, Walden Pond, MA 2013, Inkjet Print, 32” x 40” (used courtesy of the artist and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum)
Oscar Palacio, Cooler and Jeans, Walden Pond, MA 2013, Inkjet Print, 32” x 40” (used courtesy of the artist and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum)

This year's Walden Woods "Live Deliberately Essay Contest" was won by UGA English major Laura Georgia.

“Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual ray, i.e., we are not looking for it. So, in the largest sense, we find only the world we look for.”  –Henry David Thoreau, Journal, Vol. IX, July 2 1857

The prompt for the contest was "In 750 words or fewer, using your understanding of the quote and the narrative of the image as creative inspiration, discuss and expand on their meaning while integrating your own experiences and observations of the world."

Read her essay "Perspective" here.

Hilary Hilgers
Hilary Hilgers

Hilary Hilgers, who is graduating with an English degree in May, has poured her heart and soul into everything she’s done during her time here and says UGA will have an impact on her for life.  She was recently featured as one of UGA's "Amazing Students."

Hilary writes, "in the past four years this university has taught me so much, has served me so well, and has given me the possibility to inquire into any passions and dreams that I have desired to explore. I am forever thankful for the truly incredible experience I have had at UGA - I may only spend four years on this campus, but this place will continue to impact me for a lifetime."

Read the feature entire.