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After More Than 5 Years as Department Head, Laura Severin Returns to Faculty

brick building next to trees

After serving as head of the Department of English for five and a half years, Professor Laura Severin is stepping down and will return to the faculty, effective July 1, 2023.

While department head, she worked to ensure stability during a period of major demographic change in the department, advocated successfully for increases in professional faculty salaries and led the diversity initiative that resulted in the department winning the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award. She also oversaw, along with the department head of communication, the associate director and the director, the administrative restructuring of the Ph.D. program in communication, rhetoric and digital media.

Severin joined NC State in 1984 as a lecturer in the department, rising to assistant professor in 1989, to associate professor in 1995 and to professor in 2004. Within the department, she served as associate head and director of undergraduate studies and interim director of the first-year writing program. She was named head of the department in January 2018. 

“Throughout the course of her leadership, Laura has been steady in her commitment to the Department of English and our college,” said Deanna Dannels, dean of the college. “She is a consummate professional, a champion for diversity, and an ardent supporter of the important and relevant work her English colleagues pursue. I appreciate her dedication and long-standing service to her department, our college and the university. We look forward to Laura’s return to the faculty.”

Laura Severin

During her tenure at NC State, Severin also has held numerous administrative positions at different levels within the university. They include serving as special assistant to the provost, where she led, along with Senior Vice Provost Duane Larick, the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, and as associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she served on the General Education Diversity Task Force that first instituted interdisciplinary and diversity requirements. In addition, she acted as a co-principal investigator on the university’s ADVANCE grant (2008-2012), which has led to diversification in the university’s administrative leadership.

Severin has authored two books, Poetry Off the Page: Twentieth-Century British Women in Performance and Stevie Smith’s Resistant Antics. She has also written many articles on 20th-century and contemporary British literature. 

Severin’s current scholarship focuses on multimedia experimentation in the works of contemporary Scottish women poets, including Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead and Valerie Gillies, around the topics of the environment and health. As a faculty member, she has taught introductory, advanced and graduate courses in 20th- and 21st-century British literature, among others. 

Additionally, she is a former American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow (Duke University, class of 2011-2012). The ACE program prepares senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities. 

Severin earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree in creative writing and a doctoral degree in 20th-century British and American literature from Indiana University.

NC State English professor Jason Swarts takes over as head of the Department of English this summer.