Students Advocate for Pillsbury

Image of students sitting in hallway of Lind Hall

Image of students sitting in hallway of Lind Hall
Students waiting for class in the second floor hallway of Lind Hall

The below recent graduates have generously allowed us to quote from their letters to legislators in support of the Pillsbury Hall Renovation.

“I am passionate about moving English to Pillsbury for the benefit of the students. Currently, there is no space for English students to gather that is their own. There are five benches in the hallway on the second floor of Lind. These five benches are the only place for around 500 English majors, for around 6,000 students taking English courses. Moving the English Department into Pillsbury would allow for students to be able to meet and collaborate in their own space, surrounded by resources. Having a space where English students can engage with each other face-to-face would be invaluable.”
Jennifer Brown, English major, graduated 2017

“The Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota is one of the most well-respected programs in the country. Our faculty includes some of the great American writers of the last half-century, and the current students and new faculty. The renovation of Pillsbury Hall will allow the English Department to continue to attract the best faculty and students in the nation. In short: It will determine the future success of the department. As it stands now, shoe-horned into Lind Hall with the College of Science and Engineering, we cannot operate at our full potential. Our classrooms are impossibly small, and other spaces are unusable. Graduate student offices are wide open and make our meetings with undergraduate students, such an essential part of teaching writing, unmanageable. Funding the Pillsbury Hall refurbishment is an essential investment to keep not only the Department of English but the University of Minnesota competitive in the world of academia and beyond.”
Trevor D. Ketner, MFA candidate

“As a proud Minnesotan myself, I want prospective English majors to consider the University of Minnesota’s program. The courses are stimulating and varied, including everything from drama to Chaucer to the impact of baseball in fiction. The professors and teaching assistants are all dedicated, passionate, and knowledgeable about their work. I’ve had my perspectives widened and my writing improved. I’ve honed lifelong skills in analysis, communication, and organization, skills that have secured me internships and jobs during my education. With over 500 students in both the major and the minor, the English Department is easily one of the largest in the College of Liberal Arts. Pillsbury Hall would offer the Department of English the recognition it deserves as a vital institution within the College of Liberal Arts.”
Catherine Dang, English major, graduated 2017

“As students, we are constantly told that the working world of the twenty-first century is one not of individual projects but one absolutely filled with group work and cooperation. In business, art, government, etc., we are all asked to collaborate to reach our goals. The English Department currently lacks a cohesive space for students and scholars to come together and share ideas. I’ve met with numerous alumni of the program, every one of whom speaks about their time in the English Department with pride. Not only, they say, does the major prepare a student to read critically and write clearly, but it forces students to relate to people in situations unlike their own. The Pillsbury Hall renovation will provide a space for collaboration. It will be a gathering space for scholars and writers across the state. And it will allow the English Department to continue to educate leaders capable of making connections across cultural divides well into the next century.”
Henry Zurn, English major and 2016-17 Talle Family Scholar, graduated 2017

More from current students:

"When Virginia Woolf poses the rhetorical question, 'What have women and fiction got to do with a room of one’s own?' we, along with Woolf, anticipate the answer, 'Everything!' To support the renovation of Pillsbury Hall is to provide for the future flourishing of the UMN English Department."
—PhD candidate Elizabeth Howard

"Lind Hall is not adequate to fit both the College of Science & Engineering and the English Department."
—English major Jane Bollweg

"When I was a child, stories were a form of escapism from poverty and loneliness. Now stories have become a place to preserve culture and a medium for humanizing marginalized voices; they remain a place of joy. If stories keep history and ourselves alive, they need a home too."
—MFA candidate May Lee-Yang

"English undergraduates need one building that holds classes and professors' office hours, offers a studious environment, and provides us with the opportunity to network. When the English department moves, we will become a stronger community."
—English minor Logan Sweeney

"Our students end up in random available classrooms around campus that aren't always in the best of shape."
—English major Kory Verhaagh

"Playwright Oscar Wilde once said, 'Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.' Pillsbury Hall is the condition the English Department needs for greatness."
—English major and Creative Writing minor Hannah Brady

"There have been many problems with technology and rooms in my English classes."
—English major Zubda Altaf

"The infinite imagination within all humans culminates in the story. To focus our study of humanity and the stories we tell, English needs a home."
—English major Ryan Quinn