University of Minnesota
Department of English

Department of English

English in the Public Sphere: Alumni

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What's New

  • 5 X Friday: BA Alumnus Brian Lieb

    It’s not your imagination: Government public communications are increasingly easier to understand and to use, thanks to the 2010 federal Plain Writing Act--and one English alum. As Hennepin County’s Public Affairs Officer, Brian Lieb (BA 1991, MA 1996) led one of the country’s first plain writing programs. He created official writing standards. He developed and taught writing classes for hundreds of Hennepin County employees. He coordinated the revising of web content during the county’s website redesign—which was recognized in 2014 as the nation’s best large-population government website. When other public-sector organizations called for advice, he started Brian Lieb Communications to teach plain language writing outside of work hours. “I like working in the public sector,” he reports. “There are times when you know that your work can help improve people’s lives." Read on.
  • New English Alumnae/i Magazine

    2014 Winter Alumni Newsletter Cover The largest literary conference in North America lands in the Twin Cities April 8-11, and our Creative Writing Program faculty and alums are all over it. English Chair Ellen Messer-Davidow recommends Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century--and a thriller or two. Plus an annotated list of the latest fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from professors, alums, and students, and information about our unique collaboration with Penumbra Theatre in February. Read the winter 2014 e-Quarterly!

  • 5 X Friday: BA Alumnus Mark Mishek

    Mark Mishek"There continues to be a large segment of the population that believes overcoming addiction is a matter of willpower," says Mark Mishek (summa cum laude BA 1974; JD with honors 1977), CEO and President of the recently merged Hazelden and Betty Ford Foundations. The former, which he's led since 2008, has of course been a pioneer for 65 years in defining addiction not as a crime or character flaw but as a disease. Changing minds is still difficult. "The thing that's helped right now in a sad sort of way," Mishek notes, "is that with the opioid crises affecting young males more than any other population, more parents are realizing that it's not a matter of willpower, it's not a matter of more education, more self-knowledge, and so on. While that stuff's important, it can't get you well in and of itself." How did Mishek come to lead the nation's largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider? Two words: liberal arts. Read more.

  • 5 X Friday: PhD Alumna Mary Petrie

    Mary Petrie and son StrykerYou may have read Mary Petrie's story in The Star Tribune this summer, or on the Today Parents site. Not long after her oldest child, Stryker, graduated high school last spring, he presented Petrie (PhD 2000) with a wrapped gift. Inside was a book proof of a novel Petrie had written more than a decade ago--a novel a New York agency had shopped unsuccessfully, and Petrie had put aside. Her son had proofed, formatted, and readied the book for self-publishing--to thank the Inver Hills CC professor for raising him and to, as Petrie has said, take "your mother's dreams off the shelf." A story that good needs a follow-up, and we did. Read more.








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