In the spring of 2018, Taylor’s English department underwent the process of external review, a requirement for every academic department.
The results, in short, were outstanding.
Dr. Linda Mills Woolsey, long-time professor and administrator at Houghton College, conducted the review, which concluded with a trip to Upland. Dr. Mills Woolsey examined every aspect of the department, from course offerings, departmental syllabi, student outcomes data, and a number of other artifacts. She spent time with department faculty and students, both in small groups and individually, and observed multiple classes, including a core foundational class, a literature survey, and a creative writing workshop.
Upon compiling her observations in the final report, Dr. Mills Woolsey remarked: “I have often heard praise for Taylor’s English department from colleagues in CCCU, CCL, and other organizations devoted to Christian higher education and scholarship. What I found at Taylor not only lived up to the buzz about the university in general and the English department in particular, but exceeded my expectations.”
She went on to note: “The department’s learning experiences—from the classroom and editing room to conferences and colloquia, from the local community to the streets of London—demonstrate clear strength in encouraging the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes crucial to preparation for roles as working professionals in a variety of fields, and as leaders in church and society.”
The report mentioned the “robust,” “dynamic,” and “relational” departmental culture. While assessing unique ventures like Parnassus and Relief Journal (“there may only be a couple of other such undergraduate sequences in the U.S.”); The Center for the Study of CS Lewis and Friends; the biennial Making Literature Conference; WORDshop; the Writing Center; and the Flannery O’Connor Society; Dr. Mills Woolsey described a “cutting edge vitality” that characterizes Taylor’s English department.
Taylor’s Academic Policy Committee (APC), which assesses external reviews, called the report “very impressive.”
Dr. Nancy Dayton, chair of the English department, celebrates the process and results, placing the emphasis back on the students: “It is rewarding to have the work of the English department recognized by valued colleagues from within the university and by respected colleagues from like institutions. Everything the department does is focused upon our students and we are grateful to have such meaningful work.“
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