Building on their Passion

Hall of Languages

The Hall of Languages is home to the literature and languages department, with programs in English, Spanish, French, and philosophy. The first floor offers students a bevy of academic resources including the Foreign Language Center, Communications Skills Center, the Writing Center, and the English Language Institute.

by Kim Williams

In the midst of a down-trodden economy and high unemployment, the A&M-Commerce English department has accomplished an amazing feat: a 100 percent job placement rate for its doctoral students after graduation. Thanks to the leadership of Dr. Donna Dunbar-Odom and the resources available in the Hall of Languages, the program now attracts students from throughout the country.

“We previously used a traditional approach for our doctoral students, but I wanted to take a practical approach in helping our students,” Dunbar-Odom said. “Instead of requiring two semesters of colloquium teaching, we now only require one semester with a three credit hour class called ‘Professing English’ where we actually teach the students how to get a job teaching.”

Dunbar-Odom believes that it is the faculty’s approach in general that creates the success of the doctoral program.

“We care about our students, so we make sure they have a true interest in teaching before we send them out into the world,” Dunbar-Odom said. “I look for that spark in students, and build on their passion.”

Literature and languages students are mentored from the first day they begin the program thanks to a writing lab that hones their creative interests and develops their writing skills.

Many students like Sean George acquire the passion Dunbar-Odom referred to as they progress through the program. George believes the emphasis on the teaching experience, balanced with a focus on producing scholarly material relevant to the field of English literature and language studies, contributed to his success after graduation.

Today, thanks to George’s experience in the A&M-Commerce doctoral program, he now enjoys a tenure-track position as an assistant professor of English at Dixie State College, a regional college in St. George, Utah.

“I look for that spark in students, and build on their passion.” — Dr. Donna Dunbar-Odom