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In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.
As many of you know, I am stepping down as Department of English Chair as of June 30; my replacement will be announced soon (or is already announced, if you’re reading this after the July holidays).
When I first assumed this role in June 2013, one of my commitments was to evaluate the physical space occupied by the people and activities of our growing enterprise.
The Durham Language and Literature Building (LL), home to the Department of English since its construction in 1964, has served us well over the last half-century. It has been a good building, a solid building, a place imbued with usefulness and reason, much like its eponym, G. Homer Durham, eleventh president of Arizona State University.
The man who courageously welcomed Martin Luther King Jr. to campus at the height of the U.S. struggle for civil rights—indeed during the waning moments of a weeks-long U.S. Senate filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—Durham was a namesake to be respected.
But my calculations—and indeed feedback from our myriad constituents—revealed that the material building no longer “fit” us.
We needed room to continue to thrive and to keep pace as one of the most innovative Departments of English in the U.S. and the largest humanities unit on the ASU campus. On the wish list were more offices for our growing faculty, space for digital visualization labs, common areas for student interaction, and additional multipurpose rooms for events and meetings.
In late spring 2016, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) announced that the recently vacated Armstrong Hall and Ross-Blakley Law Library would be the future homes of the Department of English and the CLAS administrative offices. Renovation is underway and expected to be complete for move-ins in fall 2017.
And so with this news, I step aside for the next department leader to guide us through the doors of the coming physical transformation.
Photo of Mark Lussier by Andy DeLisle