Professors know that “service” is one required element of their jobs (in the universities I know of, at least), along with research and teaching. We most often publicize our research and teaching but not our service; that is, not the jobs that we take on to enable the running of the university and to enhance its intellectual life, such as administrative tasks, committee work, and special projects. I’m sure no one wants to read here the four or five pages it would take to list my committee work year by year for the past couple of decades, so in order to illustrate some key features of my service, I highlight below some recent special projects and key positions I have held. In doing so, I hope to demonstrate a more complete picture of the kinds of activities that constitute the life of a university professor — and for those of you who know all too well the demands of university service, here is a glimpse into what I’ve been up to. As you may see below, many of the activities that count as “service” overlap significantly with teaching and research.
- English Department social media. In 2012 I created a news / events blog for the Mount Saint Vincent University English Department, which I currently maintain. I also created and now maintain the English Department’s Twitter feed. You can find our blog at msvuenglish.wordpress.com. Our Twitter handle is @MSVU_English. With the help of a couple of colleagues and a student assistant, I also work on department posters and keep the bulletin boards updated.
- English Department website. I designed the English Department’s first website in 1999 and have maintained and redesigned it several times since then, in the last few years with the help of some colleagues and a student assistant. I am currently the content co-manager and co-publisher of our department webpages.
- Supervisor, student media assistants. I have supervised students who were hired through a university program three years in a row to research, write, and design ways to encourage student involvement in the life of the Department.
- English Department Writing Co-ordinator. Our English Department offers numerous sections of writing courses at all levels. I served as the Writing Co-ordinator several times (2015-2016; 2005-2006; 1998-1999; 1990-1991; 1988-1989). The responsibilities of this position included overseeing the Writing curriculum, interviewing instructors, serving as a liaison and resource person for part-time faculty, chairing meetings of instructors, and supervising registrations of students in multiple sections.
- English Department Chair. I was Chair of the English Department from 1999-2001.
- Organizer, guest speakers. I organized guest speakers for the Department. Most recently, I invited the Department’s faculty and students to a session on the books in our library’s special collection. In 2011, I arranged for Kyle Durrie, who was driving her portable printing press across North America in her “Type Truck” giving hands-on demonstrations, to come to Mount Saint Vincent where English students and others had an opportunity to print their own posters and to experience first-hand what it meant to produce text on a printing press.
- Senate committees. Over the years, I have served on a number of University Senate committees: Research, Library, Scholarships, Teaching and Learning, Undergraduate Curriculum, and the Writing Initiatives Committee. I am currently a member of the Committee on Academic Policy and Planning.
- Cultural Studies Committee. I have recently joined the Cultural Studies Committee, which oversees the Cultural Studies program in the University. Two of my courses, Studies in Medievalism (ENGL 4475) and The History of Writing, Reading, and the Book (ENGL/WRIT 2223) count as Cultural Studies electives.
- Centre for Arts-Informed Research and Teaching. I was a member of this group, which had been active for several years at the Mount. I served as a member of its steering committee a few years ago.
- Jan Zwicky visit. March 8-9, 2011. Along with two of my colleagues, I organized a two-day visit by poet-philosopher-musician Jan Zwicky to Mount Saint Vincent University and to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where she spoke to students, faculty, and the public. In previous years, I co-organized a campus visit by the playwright Thomson Highway and organized several public talks by the children’s literature critic Aidan Chambers.
- Celebrating Writing at the Mount. I served on the planning committee for the first Celebrating Writing at the Mount series, which was an annual event for several years. I also contributed sessions to the week-long events in the form of presentations prepared by my students.
- Canadian Society of Medievalists executive. I served as the president of the Canadian Society of Medievalists from 2007 – 2010, and before that as Vice-President and as Secretary-Treasurer. I have held numerous positions in CSM over the years, including serving on the Labarge Prize Committee for best book in medieval studies by a Canadian.
- Juror, Canada Prize in the Humanities. I served on the national jury that selected the winning book for the Canada Prize in the Humanities in 2011. The Prize is sponsored by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. (The prize was formerly known as the Raymond Klibansky Prize).
- I serve as a peer reviewer for scholarly journals and publishers considering works on Tolkien, fandom, children’s literature, medievalism, and pedagogy.
The image used at the top of this page is a detail from the depiction of June in the calendar of Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, a fifteenth-century manuscript. The image is taken from Wikimedia Commons and is also widely available online.