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History of the Department

History of the Department

September 1939   Dr. Clet Girard begins teaching all the English students, Miss Dolive Benoit all the French students enrolled (140 students total).

1940   La Jeunesse, first club at McNeese is founded. It is the French club and it holds its first social, a costume ball, in February 1940.

1947   Spanish added to the curriculum.

1947-48   McNeese Review first published; now state's oldest academic journal and most frequently edited by Languages.

1950   McNeese becomes a four-year college.

1952-53   McNeese receives its first electronic lab for teaching Foreign Languages; the only other one at that time is at LSU.

1954-55   McNeese becomes a nationally accredited,fully-developed four-year college.

1954   Department of Languages created; Dr. Clet Girard named first Department Head and was first faculty member to hold Ph.D.

1954   Andre Dubus, first McNeese alumnus to earn national standing as a novelist.

1961   The Arena, for creative writing, first published.

1963   Dr. Girard becomes first Dean of the Graduate School; Dr. John M. Norris becomes the second Department Head.

1970   School renamed McNeese State University.

1972   Dr. Clifford Byrne becomes the third Department Head.

1972-75   First surge of department publications: Curtis Whittington, Halibert Reeves, Lisa Pederson, Joe Cash, and Robert Cooper.

1976-present   Presentations and publications, including full-length books, too numerous to list hereafter.

1979   Graduate program saved by devoted faculty and by new Vice President for Academic Affairs, Robert Hebert, and University President Jack Doland.

1980   Dr. Curtis Whittington becomes the fourth Department Head.

1980   Dr. Joe Cash becomes the first Director of Graduate Studies in English.

1981   Miss Dolive Benoit retired, last of original 1939 faculty.

1982   MFA Degree in Creative Writing approved.

1982-86   Dr. Joe Cash becomes first person to serve as Assistant Department Head, then Acting Department Head briefly; in August 1986 he is named the fifth Department Head and holds that office for 23 years.

Fall 1982   Dr. John Wood becomes the second Director of Graduate Studies, including the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

1985   Robert Olen Butler joins the faculty, wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1993.

1988   Dr. Sigrid Scholtz Novak becomes the department's first Fulbright scholar.

1993, 1996   Dr. John Wood becomes the only poet ever to twice win the coveted Iowa Poetry Prize.

1996   Dr. Cheryl Ware becomes the department's second Fulbright recipient.

1997   Morri Creech wins the $ 15,000 Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowship. This is the first time the award has been given. Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

1999   Kevin Meauz is the second McNeese MFA student to win the Lily.

2000   Dr. Cecilia Ryan becomes the department's second Senior Fulbright.

Fall 2000   Returning McNeese alumnus (1996 graduate) Neil Connelly appointed new McNeese fiction writer and MFA coordinator of fiction studies.

2003   Dafydd Wood, 4.0 GPA in English; youngest student (18) ever to graduate from McNeese.

2005-06   Department's name changed to DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES in order to portray more accurately the scope of the department.

2006   Dr. Jacob Blevins becomes the department's third Fulbright scholar.

2006   After the retirement of Dr. Wood, fiction writer Neil Connelly becomes Director of the MFA program.

2008   Returning McNeese alumnua Amy Fleury appointed new McNeese poet and MFA coordinator of the poetry program.

August 2009   Dr. Jacob Blevins named sixth Department Head.

June 2010   Amy Fleury appointed new Director of the MFA program after Neil Connelly's departure.

June 2010   Dr. Joe Cash retires after 38 years of service to McNeese State University and 23 years as Department Head.

Summer 2010   Foreign Language Degree restructured with multiple concentrations.

August 2010   Alex Taylor appointed new McNeese fiction writer and new editor of The McNeese Review.

August 2012 John Griswold appointed new McNeese fiction writer and new editor of The McNeese Review.

April 2013 McNeese Alumnus Adam Johnson (M.F.A., '96) wins the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Orphan Master's Son.

August 2013 Dr. Scott Goins named 7th Department Head.