The Hunt for a New English Professor

Kate Horan

This semester, the English and Creative Writing Department look to fill an opening for a tenure-track assistant professor in the department. The hiring committee, which is composed of English professors Dr. Jon Volkmer (the chair of the committee), Dr. Kara McShane, and Dr. Patricia Lott, as well as College Librarian Diane Skorina, have read close to 100 applications since October 1st. In their applications, prospective candidates include an introductory letter, a resume, a ten-page sample of their poetry, a diversity statement, a statement of their teaching philosophy, and three letters of recommendation.

Among the hiring committee’s many considerations, they are searching for a candidate who writes poetry with outstanding credentials and/or promise, exhibiting skills and experience in digital and hybrid media along with an eagerness to teach courses in literature as well as creative writing. The committee also welcomes candidates who contribute to some of the college’s interdisciplinary programs, including African American & Africana Studies; Latin American Studies; Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; and Digital Studies. After long meetings narrowing down the list of highly qualified applicants, the hiring committee is in the final part of the process and hopes to hire a new professor soon.

“The qualities we’re looking for in a new professor can vary. Some may have qualities that we didn’t know we wanted until we saw them. But the main thing, as nebulous as it sounds, is ‘fit,’” said Volkmer. Seeking candidates who are comfortable with student-centered learning and the ability to work closely with students on independent projects, the committee wants a professor who exemplifies the values of an Ursinus College education. “We want a great teacher who shares our commitment to undergraduate education. We want someone who is doing interest- ing work in their own poetry. We want someone who believes in the liberal arts education as it can be presented in the small college environment where we take interest in each student,” said Volkmer.

Four candidates came to campus in January to eat lunch with some students in Wismer, which has sparked some excitement. “I’m really looking forward to having more classes available in the creative writing department, but I’m especially hoping for more niche topics. For instance, I took a class last semester called Fable & Fantasy and that was such an interesting and specific class, and if the new professor focuses on something like poetry, it would be cool to dive into a specific topic or genre within that interest,” said Miara Truog-Sebouhian ’25.

The anticipation of more course options in the English Department incites enthusiasm among students, as does the prospect of some changes being made in existing classes within the department. “I would love to see some revamping done to the structure of creative writing classes at Ursinus. Overall, from the classes I’ve had, they have the same setup, and it is not one I feel is beneficial. With a new professor, I hope to see some variation in how creative writing classes are run so that students can get more out of them. Hopefully there will be more writing as well as more time devoted to reading pieces and learning new skills!” said Gianna McCarthy ’25.

Students and faculty alike look forward to welcoming the new professor to the Ursinus College community as they anxiously await the hiring committee’s decision. As the college narrows its search, The Grizzly will keep its readers updated on any potential developments.