Dear Mr. Vander Meulen and Committee,
I hope my responses below are helpful. Please feel free to email me if you
any further questions. I will be available at this address until May 14,
which you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at
I would like to add that I feel the American Studies program deserves to be
continued and developed further. It was a wonderful experience for me, one
which I hope will be available to UVA students in the years to come.
*AMERICAN STUDIES M.A. PROGRAM QUESTIONNAIRE*
When were you enrolled in the program?
Respondent #22: 1996 - 1997
How did you learn of the program?
I first learned of it in the material provided by the English Department.
Why did you enter the program, and did it meet your expectations?
I was actually approached by Alan after my application had been accepted by
University. He invited me to look at the xroads.virginia.edu site and he
me some more detailed information than I'd had before. The program far
any expectations I had.
What did you find most valuable about the program?
The particular environment of scholarship and camaraderie that the program
Alan's leadership fosters.
Was the program different in any significant ways from your earlier
In a number of ways. One difference is that I had never before been
part of a clearly-defined academic group (one that went beyond simply
the proximity of the classroom.)
Did the program help you develop any of these aspects of your life?
-Thinking and communicating?
No, I think they were pretty well defined beforehand.
Yes, very much.
Absolutely, to a very great degree. This has proved very valuable in my
post-grad life and career.
To what extent did your classmates affect your experience in the program?
Immeasurably. I was and remain incredibly impressed with the talents and
knowledge of my classmates in the MA97 American Studies group. I learned a
tremendous amount from their contributions -- in class discussions, in the
project work they did, etc.
To what extent did the public venue (the Internet) for much your work
affect your experience in the program?
Alan likes to call working on the Internet "showering in public." I
don't think I felt this pressure too much. Because I had no background
in the technology, it was easier to be forgiving of my own early
mistakes and inadequacies. On the other hand it felt good to be
developing a project for public consumption (not to mention developing
marketable skills to help make future student loan payments.)
Was the course work appropriate to the goals of the program?
Yes, although because I was so behind the learning curve as far as the
technology goes, I think I neglected some of my research on the subjects we
studied early on in the year. If I were to do it all over, I would try and
learn more of the Web material up front to allow myself to focus on the
early in the first semester.
Did you perceive yourself as part of any university department or
community larger than the American Studies Program itself?
Yes, although only very vaguely. I think this is an area in which
the English Department needs some work -- if I had not participated
in the AS@UVA program, I doubt very much I would have felt part of a
cohesive group (other than some smart people who like to read and
often bump into one another at the coffee shop/library/bus stop.)
The orientation meeting and materials were almost non-existent and
the only faculty-attended function I remember was the barbeque at the
beginning of the year. It is unfortunate because I left unfamiliar
with the faces and work of the vast majority of professors and
students (i.e. future colleagues) at UVA. The experience may be
different for PhD students. Hopefully this has changed since I've
been away. Because I had the American Studies group, however, this
did not have a strong negative effect my experience at UVA.
How well was interdisciplinary study integrated in the program?
Were the following resources (and any other ones) adequate for your work?
Beyond adequate. A joy (especially Special Collections.)
-Computers and technical support?
No - not enough American courses (but I'm a little biased.)
Yes. Alan and Mr. Railton stand out as very approachable, encouraging, and
pro-student. I heard many reports, however, that this is not the case with
majority of faculty members. I may have just been lucky.
Is this ever adequate? Still, it was worth it.
During the program did you have any relevant part-time employment?
Please describe briefly your major forms of schooling and/or employment
since your time in the program (giving dates, name of organization, and
chief activities there):
10/97 to Present - ENTEX Information Services
creation and maintenance of intranet site
writing and editing of marketing materials (including but not
limited to intranet content)
currently leading a project to redesign and upgrade ENTEX's
corporate Web site
until 11/98 I was a member of the electronic commerce team. we
were collectively responsible for the e-commerce
application and strategy here at ENTEX
Did you find advising and placement support in the program to be adequate?
I don't think I took advantage of this, as I did not plan to remain in
in the short-run.
Has your involvement in the program made a discernible difference in the
subsequent steps of your career?
How might the program be strengthened?
I think a greater awareness -- among people within the department and
other disciplines at UVA -- of the work being done in the AS@UVA program,
be of great value. This should go both ways; that is, Alan should try to
involve other members of the faculty and community to meet with and/or
collaborate with the AS@UVA students. There is a lot of history (and
and music, and religion, etc.) at UVA and in the Charlottesville area, all
which could add greatly to the AS@UVA experience.
Any other reflections?
Alan is a tremendous leader and he deserves the highest praise for his work
this program and specifically with its students. He is perhaps the only
member I've ever met at UVA or elsewhere whose unconditional support of his
students is a tangible force. Alan is by far the American Studies Program's
greatest resource and the key ingredient to its success.