Farewell from Dr. Carrie Smith

30 June 2020

Dear MLCS Friends,

2020, quite the year to be transitioning roles in the university. It is truly tempting to open this brief farewell with a quip about vision and hindsight, as 2020 has shown us—if anything—that trying to see into the future is folly. And indeed: I often say that the three years of my tenure as Chair of this department have been about change—the MLCS graduate program structure, the MLCS BA, the delivery of our first-year language program, and now the less-than-anticipated changes—but actually, this statement is not entirely true. More than change, these three years have been about vision. About imagining what a department of languages, literatures, and cultures can and should be in the 21st century. And then about making it happen. Making it happen by shifting the way in which we understand our community.

And so, as I exit the role of Chair, this short message is not about change—not about the impressive way MLCS addressed the changes in the past or the present, nor about the department’s spectacular agility to weather the changes to come, even if all of this is indeed the case. Instead, I write a love note. I didn’t expect to love this job as much as I have come to love it, nor did I expect to care for this department and its people as much as I now do. When I started this role, someone told me about a past Chair who had an “MLCS” vanity plate made for his car. While I’m not ready to go that far, I get it. The tagline “I’m MLCS” that was developed for the new major is both corny and poignant precisely because, at least for me, it rings true.

We have all had our differences in the not-so-distant past, and we will no doubt have our differences in the future. But I have learned from you that it is precisely these differences—these moments of conflict and crisis—where we grow to care for one another. Please continue to cultivate that care as the Faculty and University enter a key period of transition, a period that will be anxiety-producing for many; your colleagues outside of MLCS can learn a thing or two from this department.

I proud of this department and its leadership, and MLCS is in excellent hands. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming years.