Recognizing Excellence in the Department

Our own Professor Cherene Sherrard-Johnson received a 2018 Outstanding Women of Color Award. The award recognizes the extraordinary work done by women of color from across campus and in the larger Madison community. Prof. Sherrard-Johnson “drew a collective ‘wow’” from the award committee with “her tireless recruitment and mentorship of women of color, faculty and students alike,” work that “is visibly transforming the Department of English and supporting the career success of colleagues at and beyond UW-Madison.”


The Diversity and Inclusion Student Committee (D+ISC) honored Composition and Rhetoric graduate student Neil Simpkins with its inaugural Leadership and Service Award. With this new award, the D+ISC seeks to recognize department members who have “committed significant time and initiative to foster a more inclusive environment within and beyond our department.” In addition to the work he’s done in an official capacity as a teacher and Assistant Director of the Writing Center, Neil was cited for his involvement with LGBT Books to Prisoners, a Madison-based organization that sends books to incarcerated LGBTQ people around the country. “In this space,” a colleague notes, “Neil is a consistent and meaningful presence, working with other volunteers to send queer and trans people in prison the books they want and need.”


Lecturer Dr. Heather Swan’s book Where Honeybees Thrive: Stories from the Field won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award’s (SONWA) top prize in nature writing. Given out by Northland College since 1991, the SONWA honors Sigurd Olson, a Northland alumnus and namesake of the College’s environmental institute, by recognizing and encouraging contemporary writers who seek to carry on his tradition of nature writing.”  In recognizing the book, the SONWA committee praised it as “an innovative look at the wonders of honeybees and humanity’s complex relationship with them.” You can read more about the award here.