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For years, the first person people have seen at 70 Brown St. is Jane Donnelly. But after this academic year, the Department of English will be losing someone who has dedicated over two decades to the University.

Donnelly, the academic operations coordinator for the Department of English, will be retiring at the end of May after 21 years of working at Brown. She is among 139 staff members who have accepted an early retirement package, The Herald reported in February. The University announced in November that eligible employees would receive one year's salary in addition to an extra $15,000 if they retired.

"I felt it was an offer that was too good to refuse," Donnelly said. Originally planning to retire a few years from now, she said she decided to retire at the end of this year because she thinks this is a one-time offer with a "significant financial incentive."

This May, Donnelly will have completed her 12th year working in the department, where she moved after working part-time for nine years in the Department of Geological Sciences.

"I have really loved working at Brown for so many reasons," she said, adding that she enjoys the fact that her job has given her the opportunity to work with a variety of people at Brown, including students, faculty and staff. "I find it a very pleasant place to work. I feel like I have been respected by the kids and the faculty," Donnelly said.

A major component of Donnelly's current job as academic operations coordinator is curriculum planning and development, and she is a member of the English Curriculum Committee. Since the Department of English offers such a large number of courses each year, "it's a very comprehensive planning process," she said.

Donnelly also mentioned that she particularly enjoys "database design and management," and she has been able to incorporate this interest into her job over the years. She operates a large database containing information about all English courses, including teaching assignments, scheduling, course history and particular concentration requirements that courses satisfy.

"She is a real advocate for the undergraduates," said Kevin McLaughlin, professor of English and chair of the department, who noted that he thinks Donnelly has the most contact with undergraduates out of anyone in the department. He said Donnelly keeps the undergraduates in mind when planning the curriculum.

As the staff member in charge of assisting with faculty recruitment, Donnelly's duties include cataloguing applications and completely organizing candidate visits to Brown, McLaughlin said. All aspects of Donnelly's job are "really essential to the academic mission of the department," he added.

A few years ago, Donnelly took the initiative to start a project in which recent Brown English alumni were asked about how their English degrees had influenced their lives after graduation, McLaughlin said. Receiving over 100 replies, Donnelly organized the responses and posted them on the department Web site as a resource for undergraduates.

In addition, Donnelly has been active in helping bring panels of English alumni to campus to discuss career paths with undergraduates.

Donnelly also handles concentration filing for the Department of English and often gives informal advice to students choosing courses in order to make sure they are on track for their concentration. Undergraduate Council of Students President Clay Wertheimer '10 — an English concentrator who has worked with Donnelly in coordinating the English Departmental Undergraduate Group — said that when he filed his concentration forms, Donnelly enthusiastically said, "Welcome to English."

"I think Jane is fantastic," Wertheimer said. "Jane is a wonderful member of the English Department and the Brown community."

Jennifer Tan '11, an English concentrator who is one of many students Donnelly has gotten to know personally over the years, said, "She's such an integral part of the English Department at Brown."

Former Herald Sales Director Ellen DaSilva '10, an English concentrator who sometimes drops in and talks to Donnelly during her lunch, added that "she is just so giving of her time and energy."

"She really does everything," DaSilva said. "I think she will be sorely missed."

In her retirement, Donnelly said she plans to do volunteer work, frequently visit her children out of state and expand her garden. She also said she was looking forward to having the opportunity to be spontaneous in deciding what she wants to do.

According to McLaughlin, the Department of English will begin looking for a replacement soon. He said the position of academic operations coordinator will be somewhat redesigned once Donnelly leaves.

Donnelly "has been the glue to the undergraduate part of the program," McLaughlin said.



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