Creative Writing announces new interim chair



Tony Trigilio, professor in the Creative Writing Department and director of  the poetry program, will assume the position of interim chair of the department in the fall, replacing current chair Matthew Shenoda, who has held the position since 2013.

By Campus Reporter

As the search for a permanent chair of the Creative Writing Department continues, interim chair Matthew Shenoda announced he will step down at the end of this semester. Tony Trigilio, a professor in the department and director of the poetry program, is set to assume the interim chair’s duties this fall.

Shenoda has been the interim chair since the merge of the fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry programs in the Fall 2013 Semester. The college’s national search for a permanent chair ended unsuccessfully last year, so Shenoda continued to serve as the interim chair, as reported May 12, 2014, by The Chronicle. 

Shenoda said he planned to serve as the interim chair for only two years and is ready to leave the position but continue teaching in the poetry program.

“These leadership positions—especially one explicitly interim from the beginning—should not last a very long time,” Shenoda said. “I have done what I felt has been necessary to establish a foundation for the new department, and I am very happy to pass the torch and have someone else begin to build on that.”

Suzanne Blum Malley, interim dean of The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said she and Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost, offered Trigilio the position because his current experience with the department made him a qualified candidate.

Blum Malley said Trigilio will likely serve two years, and a national search for a chairperson is aimed to relaunch during the 2016–2017 academic year, with a permanent replacement ideally starting in the Fall 2017 Semester.

Trigilio said he is excited about the new position and the chance to expand on the work Shenoda has already completed and that they will be working together this semester to make the transition smooth.

“I see what I’m doing as a continuation of what he’s already done,” he said. “I really have great respect for what he’s done, and I think he’s done an amazing job.”

Trigilio said the qualifications needed for a successful chairperson include having an extensive background as an administrator, and the search is being held both internally and externally by the college.

Shenoda said he thinks it would be a better idea to have an interim chair from within the college community for now and bring in a permanent chair after the department has laid a more solid foundation.

“It’s perfectly appropriate to have interim leadership in a time of transition to create a foundation,” Shenoda said. “In terms of transition plans and leadership, it’s wise to do rather than bring someone in from the outside [who] doesn’t have as much of a history with the place.”

As a senior faculty member, Trigilio said he has no problems communicating and collaborating with other members of the department and cannot wait to start working with them as the interim chair.

“It will be really intense, hard work, but it will be exciting, too,” he said.