English department offers mixer,
launches community-building initiative
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Professors create community with student luncheon
The English department is making an effort to reach out to students, faculty and alumni to bring in more majors and solidify the connections between the three groups.
Held in the Student Union on Oct. 28, the English department mixer was the first in a series of efforts by the department, including the possible creation of a film series or English student association, to create a sense of community.
“It seemed like a great opportunity for students to actually sit down and mingle with the faculty,” said senior English major Krystaly Koch.
She said more events like the luncheon would be a great addition to the English department community.
“As English majors, we aren’t the kind to go out on socialize all the time,” Koch said. “We spend so much time with our noses in books we never catch people’s names.”
But attendees had plenty of opportunities to catch people’s names at this event — and their stories, too.
Among the distinguished speakers were department chair Richard Harp, two successful alumnae and former UNLV president Carol Harter, who spoke on the value of an English degree in the wider world of academia.
The alumnae bolstered this message, sharing how their career paths led them through several fields where the skills they learned at UNLV set them apart.
Attendees had the chance to learn from current students as well and the room was full of the buzz of convversation as students made new connections and shared their specific interests in the field.
Koch said underclassmen were able to gain information about the department by talking to upperclassmen.
The mixer gave college administrators the chance to interact with students, faculty and graduates, increasing communication between different factions of the department.
Beth Rosenberg, an assistant English professor, said the event was designed to allow students to interact with each other and experts in the English field.
“Not only did we invite all of the students, but we invited all of the alumni,” she said, discussing the benefits and drawbacks of taking courses from certain professors and talking to each other about required coursework.
Students networked and learned more about the major.
“It was nice to get to know a few other people in our department,” Koch said.
Rosenberg said the department, specifically Harp, attempted to bring in people from all aspects of the department to build the community students have a “hunger for.”
“We have decided to do some outreach to undecided students, students who are in the major and even students outside the major,” she said.
The event was part of the department’s plan to spread the word that there are jobs available in different professions to students majoring in English.
“We have to sort of recast ourselves well,” Rosenberg said of the English department’s image.
English professors mingled with the students at the mixer throughout the afternoon, answering questions and meeting the undergraduates.
The English department had the event catered and encouraged faculty and alumni attendees to interact with students.
Rosenberg said the affair was an attempt to provide a more relaxed setting for students to interact with members of the university community outside the classroom.
“I was talking to students I didn’t even know,” Rosenberg said.
She hopes the event and others like it contribute toward building UNLV and the English department into strong institutions.
“We really, really want a sense of community and that includes not only students, but faculty and alumni as well,” Rosenberg said. “We’re all in the same place. We’re all in the same department.”
Rosenberg explained the goals of the initiative that she believes will lead to more vents like this in the future. Students, she said, have expressed an interest in having greater contact with professors outside of the schedules course times.
She said, “The professors can get to know students on a more casual level… and so it makes for a better classroom experience.”
Rosenberg said she hopes these efforts give students a better feeling for what studying English and the humanities is about.
“English represents the humanities,” she said, “and it’s really like ‘What can the humanities do for you?’”