12/16/2015 Meeting Agenda

ESA Meeting
December 16, 2015, 4:15pm
Room 5409


Approve minutes from 11/16/2015 ESA meeting
Committee Reports


  • ESA Travel Grants: email has been circulated to ESA-L and to ENGDEPT-L. Applications for 2015-2016 academic year will open in early spring.
  • Nominations for new Executive Officer (term beginning Fall 2016).
  • MLA: Mario has organized the English Program suite and is hosting receptions for English students, faculty, and alumni. Students are encouraged to use the suite, to volunteer their time, and to join prep. Details to come.

Open floor to any other topics for discussion.

December 2015 Committee Reports:

ESA Editorial Committee

Over the next few months, we’ll be reviewing and proposing emendations/revisions/additions to existing student guides — Practical Guide for Students; Registering for Courses; A Guide to the Academic Job Search; Organizing the Orals — as well as contemplating new guides, e.g., a guide for funding/grants/fellowships geared toward students nearing the end of their five-years of guaranteed funding; a guide for navigating the MLA meeting. It seems that the guide Comprehending the Comprehensives will soon be obsolete, as the first-year exam undergoes a transformation to a portfolio model. We have been in touch with members of the Curriculum Committee, who will keep us posted on whether or not current first-years will be taking the “old” or “new” comps (the latest information we have is that this is still TBD).

We of course remain open to suggestions for new student guides.


Curriculum Committee

Mario has now shared the overall faculty and student comments on the curric cmte comps idea.  Twelve faculty and 26 students responded directly to Mario.  Among the faculty, five were very supportive, two were pretty supportive, one was supportive of a portfolio, but deeply critical of this idea. No others expressed outright opposition, but five would require more comprehensiveness.

Of the 26 students, 25 were directly supportive, and most were very strongly so. Two would require more comprehensiveness and another would require some form of poetics. Eight of this group were first year students. Seven asked for the new model this year. One was neutral. Two asked for sufficient support to prepare.

We collected for Mario a separate group of first year responses including 19 of 22 students.  16 want the new test for their class– including I think the eight who also wrote separately to Mario.)  three were happy with either the existing test or a new portfolio.  A number asked for different forms of support to prepare for the new model.

One first year student responding directly to Mario wrote: “Like the majority of my peers, I have been dreading this exam since day one…. As a non-native English speaker, the current format would put me as a disadvantage because writing in my second language takes me considerably more time than native speaker students….Most importantly, like other people in the program with whom I engaged in conversation over this matter in the past couple of months, I find timed-tests extremely distressing, and I do not believe that a piece of writing completed under such pressure represents a fair tool to evaluate a student’s preparation….At this point, considering that studying for the comprehensive exam “as they are” does not get us ready for the kind of work we are going to be engaging with in our future in the academia and in the program, why insist on a structure that potentially sets us up for failure, no matter how much we study for it?”

Based on the responses from the two Mario surveys, the students overwhelmingly approve the new model  and the first year students very much want the new model this summer– not the existing test.

But Mario believes that this change will require approval from multiple levels of GC committees because comps are referenced in the GC bulletin; as such he does not see enough time to switch to the portfolio this year.



We’ve been working on collecting names of alumni who will be at MLA. We will be contacting these alumni to invite them to Mario’s reception and to encourage them to stop by the suite to socialize and/or provide support for current students.


Executive Committee Report from meeting on 11/20/15 and Open Meeting on 12/11/15

  • Open Meeting:

Mario thanked Nancy S. for her continued work and support in Program.

  • Budget as it affects the department: Cuomo has yet to sign “maintenance of effort” bill for CUNY funding. GC has a budget shortfall of at least $4.8 million (or more). All programs have had budgets reduced. Two English courses cut for spring semester (Hildegard Hoeller’s course on slavery has moved to MALS and English program students can register for it through MALS). Another course will be cut for spring at will be determined depending on enrollment numbers. Additionally, next year fewer students will be admitted to the English Program (18 or 19 instead of 21). Question raised by at Open Meeting if administrative salaries have affected or discussed and answer was no, but various open positions are not being filled (Facilities, Print Shop, and others).
  • Digital Grant: Matt Gold recently won grant for “Scaling Digital Research” to enable various projects, including a Digital Skills Bootcamp (for faculty also) and digital innovation grants.
  • Letter to Chase: Mario drafted letter to Chase Robinson signed by 40 others, including other EOs and program directors. Letter is pushing back against program budget cuts and also arguing for the importance of college-appointed faculty and their role or function in departments and at the GC.
  • Fellowships: MAGNET fellowships are going to be replaced by “Top Up” fellowships which will grant an additional $10,000 on top of GC Fellowships. Idea is that these will be more competitive with other schools.
  • GRE Subject Test: Move to do away with subject test passed Graduate Council. Now moves to CUNY Board and then a change in the Bulletin to make it final.
  • Faculty Membership: Hires next year in Modernism, Comp/Rhet, African-American, and Hemispheric Studies (w/ emphasis in Latino/a texts).
  • Program Video: The English Program now has a promotional video which can be seen on program homepage.
  • Social Media: Email Nancy S. and/or Velina about any accomplishments (publications, events, etc.) to promote via Twitter.
  • MLA: Mario will be at MLA in Austin in suite from Wednesday-Sunday. There will be a modest reception on Friday and Saturday. Program is asking for any volunteers – faculty, students, alumni – to be in suite for an hour or two at different times. Email Elizabeth Decker to advise availability.
  • Placement: Last year, 26 placements in full-time jobs. There seems to be a 3-year cycle generally, but overall, program doing well or above average. Mock interviews recently occurred; things beginning to be scheduled for MLA potentially, but hiring happens through the spring (and further).
  • Recruitment: Nancy Yousef chaired Recruitment Committee last year with students and held a recruitment event in fall that was highly attended. Sudents on the committee thanked. Carrie and Nancy recently attended a couple of recruitment events outside of GC; Carrie also attended an online McNair Scholars meeting
  • Comprehensive Exam – Proposed Changes and Draft of Proposed Exam: Extensive discussion of exam at Executive Committee meeting. Mario reported in Open Meeting that 12 faculty and 40 students (including 19 first year students) responded to the draft of proposed changes to first exam. At Open Meeting it was report that any change will not occur this year. As with recent changes concerning the GRE Subject Test, any changes to Bulletin first go through Executive Committee meeting, then Graduate Council, then CUNY Board. Curriculum Committee will review responses received to draft of first exam early in spring semester and proceed from there.

Nothing to report:

Recruitment, Library, Faculty Membership, Admissions & Financial Aid, Conference, Course Assessment, Diversity, Elections, Friday Forum, Placement, Website