2000s and Beyond
In 1999, after serving as chair for four years, Jay Fox was released, and John S. Tanner, who had been an associate vice-president, was appointed the new chair. Tanner’s primary assignment was to help strengthen the faculty according to principles laid down in the aims of a BYU education, the Rank and Status Policy, and the university document on Academic Freedom. He focused on scholarship, teaching, and citizenship, making salaries equitable, hiring strong new faculty, continuing to build the department on its past strong foundation, and after an extensive review developing a progressive rather than a cyclic curriculum.
Under Tanner the department also continued discussion begun by Lambert and continued by Fox about moving department specialists in language and certain language courses to the Linguistics Department. In 2002, Don W. Chapman, Doris R. Dant, William G. Eggington, Dallin D. Oaks, Royal J. Skousen, Linda H. Adams, and Don E. Norton moved, taking their several specialties with them.
A major preoccupation at this time was the planning and building of the new Joseph F. Smith Building and moving the College of Humanities from the Jesse Knight Humanities Building to the new and spacious facility.
Although retirements had slowed down somewhat from the early Nineties, the late Nineties saw another group of faculty retiring: W. Dean Rigby, Charlotte D. Lofgreen, Mae (Mable) Blanch, William A. (Bert) Wilson, Lorna R. Best, and Brian S. Best. Replacing them over a span of a decade were Edward S. Cutler, Jill Terry Rudy, Jacqueline Thursby, Danette Paul, Dennis R. Cutchins, Sirpa T. Grierson, Eric A. Eliason, Deborah M. Dean, and Nicholas A. Mason.
Cecil O. Samuelson became president of BYU in 2003, and the next year, John Tanner was released as chair, later to become academic vice-president.
Edward A. Geary was appointed in Tanner’s stead. The major event during his one-year chairship would be the department’s preparing to move to the fourth floor of the new JFSB along with the rest of the College. Because of comparatively abundant resources, it was possible to hire new faculty, provide better annual raises, and offer reasonable opportunities for research and professional development. The department also devoted much time and energy to preparation for yet another accreditation review.
Gregory D. Clark was serving as composition coordinator and enjoying a half-time professional development leave when he was asked in 2005 to replace Ed Geary, who had decided to retire somewhat earlier than anticipated. Clark immediately organized a committee to help the department prioritize the work of English studies. However, this effort was preempted by the new push by BYU accreditors for learning outcomes-based assessment that in effect focused on the department’s collective priorities.
Retiring at the beginning of the new century were Neal E. Lambert, Verdon W. Ballantyne, Richard H. Cracroft, Glade O. Hunsaker, John J. Murphy, and Louise R. Plummer. Newly hired faculty were Trenton L. Hickman, Brett C. McInelly, Dennis R. Perry, Matthew W. Wickman, Dean Hughes, John Talbot, Frank Q. Christianson, Leslee Thorne-Murphy, Aaron C. Eastley, Kimberly Johnson, Kristin Matthews, Matt Haslam, and Patrick Madden.