Monday, March 28, 2011

English Department sweeps University-Wide Graduate Awards

Three English Graduate Students, Bonnie McLean, Renee L. Gardner, and Chad Sweeney have been announced as winners of the University-wide Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Award (McLean, Gardner) and the University-wide Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award (Sweeney). Thus, the department wins more Graduate Awards this year than any other unit at WMU. 

Bonnie McLean is a second-year MA student in literature and language. She has taught English 1050 (Thought and Writing) and English 1000 (The Writing Process). She currently serves as Assistant Director of Developmental English, a program for students whose writing needs special attention before they may succeed on WMU’s degree programs. In her nomination letter, Jax Gardner, the Assistant Director of First-Year Writing, states: “I have personally watched Bonnie volunteer for countless professional development activities, not the least of which included a semester-long commitment to the First-Year Writing Professional Learning Community. . . . Bonnie is a caring and compassionate instructor and her students are lucky to have her influence during such a formative time in their college experience.”    

Renee Lee Gardner is a third-year PhD student in literature and language. She has taught Literary Interpretation, Good Books, and Literature and Culture of the United States. In his nomination letter, Dr. Jon Adams describes Renee as a “natural teacher,” a “superb instructor,” and “quite frankly, a star,” who is worthy of winning “the accolades of her department and institution.” Dr. Adams’ observation of Renee’s teaching praised the level of “comfort, camaraderie, and shared sense of purpose” that she achieves in her classroom, as well as the “unbelievable advancement as a respondent to students’ comments.”

Chad Sweeney is a third-year PhD student in Creative Writing, with an emphasis in poetry. Amazingly, Chad has already published five books of poetry—three of them with nationally recognized presses during his time at Western Michigan University. Chad has also signed another three books into contract to be published in the next two years, including translations of Pablo Neruda and Iranian poet H. E. Sayeh. Chad’s work has been featured in Best American Poetry 2008 and on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Dr. Nancy Eimers writes that Chad’s poems “are truly original, their perceptions new-paint-fresh and their leaps so arresting and absolutely unexpected they create almost an ache of loveliness…. It will not surprise me if, in the next few years, Chad begins to assume a national profile as a poet."   

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