Professor Spotlight: Dr. Rebecca Flannagan


Photo by: Kyle Graham

Dr. Rebecca Flannagan hopes that her time as an English professor will help her in her role as chair.

A new academic school year brings new beginnings for Professor of English Dr. Rebecca Flannagan, who recently assumed her new position as the Chair of the English, modern languages and philosophy and religious Studies Department at FMU. After 23 years of teaching, along with multiple leadership roles in university-based committees and various committees in the English Department, Flannagan was chosen by other faculty and colleagues to advance her academic career.

Flannagan said that while she was excited to make this change and explore her opportunities in this new position, she wanted to be sure to take her new role seriously and consider all important aspects of the job.

“I really had to evaluate the shoes that I had to fill: Dr. Johnson’s,” Flannagan said. “I think I was basically in the right place at the right time. Dr. Johnson was ready to explore new opportunities, and I was at a point where I was ended my chairship as faculty chair and was ready to do new things.”

Flannagan’s journey to this new position required support and endorsement from other faculty members. Flannagan said that department chairs are evaluated every three years and are required to run for re-election. With Dr. Christopher Johnson opting to make career changes, the faculty of the English Department felt that Flannagan was the woman for the job.

“A lot of the process for this position came from other professors and faculty,” Flannagan said. “I never would have been chair if they had not voted me into this position and endorsed me and believed in my abilities.”

Aside from her day-today responsibilities in her literature and composition courses, Flannagan’s new position will bring distinct responsibilities and expectations. As the Chair of the department, Flannagan will be expected to fulfill registration and orientation responsibilities, oversee the department’s budget and spending and supervise work done by standing department committees. While she does not anticipate any major changes in the department, Flannagan will also be heavily involved in any major curriculum or departmental changes. Flannagan said that one particular aspect about her new responsibilities that excites her is the opportunity to extensively help students and other faculty members.

“I get to work closely with students and professors about what’s going in classes and handle certain problems that may come up, and I get to be their first recourse,” Flannagan said. “I also hope to be able to meet with my peers early on in my chairship to see if there are any ways in which I can facilitate them in reaching some of their personal goals, like writing or publishing books, for example.”

Flannagan then said that she hopes to use the abilities that she has acquired in front of the classroom to help her meet expectations in her new position. She said that in the classroom, she has learned to work well with and adapt to different personalities and to be well organized.

As far as her teaching responsibilities go, Flannagan said that despite the demanding schedule that comes with this position, teaching students will always be something that she enjoys and will remain a top priority for her.

“For me, teaching is just exciting and wonderful, and I think that teaching is what I was meant to do,” Flannagan said. “I love being in the classroom and watching students learn and grow throughout the course.”

Outside of the classroom, Flannagan enjoys many different hobbies, such as writing poetry, running and learning the Turkish language. Flannagan said that some of these hobbies have had to be temporarily set aside in the hope that she can fulfill her newly-received responsibilities and have a successful chairship.

“Overall, I’m just really hopeful for things to go smoothly and have a good few years both in the classroom and as the new chair,” Flannagan said.