The 2013 national conference of MELUS (Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S) on March 14–17, 2013, at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh was a wonderful success. President Michael Driscoll delivered a warm, presidential, eloquent, humorous, and inviting speech on March 15 during the plenary lunch with Professor Houston Baker in a packed William Penn Ballroom to welcome all plenary speakers, MELUS leaders and leading scholars, and conference participants.
President Driscoll; Bill Speidel, vice president for University Advancement, and Yaw Asamoah, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, offered tremendous support by driving one-and-a-half hours each way to attend the Friday plenary lunch and to support the conference. Lingyan Yang, associate professor in the English Department and director of the Women’s Studies program at IUP, was the MELUS 2013 Conference Committee chair and MELUS program chair/vice president, who has organized and coordinated the conference since June 2010.
Photo: Vice President Bill Speidel (University Advancement), IUP President Mike Driscoll, Associate Professor Lingyan Yang, and Dean Yaw Asamoah (College of Humanities and Social Sciences), at Conference Plenary Lunch
MELUS is a nationally and internationally prominent field of studies and professional organization on the research and teaching of American multiethnic literature, criticism, arts, and cultures.
The MELUS 2013 national conference was cosponsored by MELUS, IUP, and Delaware Valley College. Everything in the conference went very well. About 230 to 240 scholars, teachers, graduate students, and guests presented and attended the conference, including national and international presenters as well as about 45 IUP faculty, student, and leaders presenting and attending; about 70 attending from multiple universities in Pennsylvania; and another 10 to 15 attendants from Ohio. The four plenary presentations by seven leading multiethnic scholars electrified, excited, and engaged the audience critically. About 72 sessions/panels/events went very well, with lively scholarly exchanges. Attendants socialized at two receptions hosted by MELUS and Oxford University Press respectively. Three professionalization workshops on academic job search, surviving in academic institutions, and academic publishing benefited graduate students and faculty alike.
President Driscoll may be one of the few presidents from a MELUS hosting institution to have personally attended and welcomed conference participants in the past 10 to 15 years. Such overwhelming presidential and institutional support and hospitality moved all conference attendants, presented IUP in honorable and dignified scholarly manners nationally, and set a high standard for future MELUS conferences.
A profound “thank you” goes to all of the following IUP cosponsorship for their extraordinary support for the MELUS 2013 conference: President Driscoll and the President’s Office; Provost Moerland and the Provost’s Office; Vice President Wooten and the Office of Administration and Finance; Vice President Speidel and the Office of University Advancement; Michele Petrucci and the Office of International Education; Dean Yaw Asomoah from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Hilliary Creely and the School of Graduate Studies and Research; Professor Gian Pagnucci, chair of the English Department, and Jackie Rohrabaugh from the English Department; Professor David Downing, director of the graduate English program in Literature and Criticism; all colleagues and Sharon Aikins from the Women’s Studies Program; Maureen McHugh and Theresa McDevitt from the President’s Commission on the Status of Women; Malinda Levisfrom the PASSHE Women’s Consortium; Sarah Wheeler from the Latin American Studies Program; and Toni Linta from the University Printing Center.
Yang and her team of five IUP doctoral students in the graduate English program in Literature and Criticism—Jennifer Matos Ayala, Rachael Warmington, Kittiphong Praphan, Carolyn Marcille, and Ibrahim Azizi—won respect and appreciation from the conference participants for their dedicated and outstanding work.
Among the roughly 46 IUP presenters and attendants, about 30 were doctoral and master’s students from the graduate English program in Literature and Criticism, 11 were faculty, and four were university leaders. Ten were international graduate students. About 25 of IUP presenters/attendants were women faculty and students. Additionally, three presenters were IUP alumni.
See photos from the 2013 MELUS Conference.
Here are a few selected evaluations from the MELUS 2013 conference:
“The MELUS conference (2013) in Pittsburgh was superb in every way . . . It was quite splendid to have your President and Dean in attendance at the luncheon where I presented a plenary address . . . In brief, Prof. Yang, MELUS 2013 was a near-perfect conference.”—Houston A. Baker, Distinguished University Professor, Vanderbilt University
“Lingyan . . . It was a great conference. One of the greatest. Thanks for your hard work.”—Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies, Queens College, CUNY, Former MELUS President, 2003–2006, 2007–2009
“Dear Lingyan . . . The entire conference was absolutely lovely; you and your institutional supporters did a brillian, beautiful job!”—Joycelyn Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio, Former Editor, African American Review
“Dear Lingyan, What a fantastic conference! I have heard nothing but praises, and congratulations!”—Wenying Xu, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Chatham University, Former MELUS President, 2009–2012
“Dear Dr. Yang . . . I enjoyed greatly working with you and the team for MELUS 2013 conference. It was a great and enlightening experience, especially seeing the enjoyment and satisfaction of the members with your hard work. Everybody that I talked to had a compliment for your hard work. You have set the bar high for those that following in your footsteps for future conferences. You rocked!”—Jennifer Matos Ayala, Doctoral Student, Graduate English Program in Literature and Criticism, Member of the IUP MELUS 2013 Conference Team
“I would like to thank you and your team for all your hard work to make MELUS 2013 conference such a rewarding and stimulating experience.”—Emily Rutter, Graduate Student, Dept. of English, Duquesne University
Department of English