Message from Chair Richard Wright

Submitted by Monica Charlotte Rachel Cohn on

 In September 2019, we welcomed two new assistant professors.  This year, as I prepare to begin my second five-year term as departmental chair, we welcome another two faculty but bid farewell to another.

Looking back at the 2019-2020 academic year we must acknowledge the profound changes to our lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am deeply grateful to the Linguistics faculty who, with almost no notice, heroically moved their teaching online to accommodate the university’s response to the pandemic, and who taught their students with compassion and empathy. I would also like to acknowledge the incredible hard work on the part of our graduate and undergraduate students who adjusted to learning online and completed their coursework while overcoming difficult obstacles. Our faculty and students did this from home while adjusting to schools and daycares being closed, while caring for loved ones, and without the infrastructure that the university campus provides.

In September 2019, we welcomed two new assistant professors to our department, Naja Ferjan Ramírez, who specializes in first language acquisition, and Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, who specializes in computational semantics. In July 2020 we said goodbye to phonologist Gašper Beguš, who has left UW for UC Berkeley. In January 2020, our beloved long-time departmental administrator, Michael Furr, retired. We welcomed our new administrator Monica Cohn.

Our students are the lifeblood of the department and we are humbled by their academic achievement. In June 2020, forty-three students received their BA degrees, many with departmental honors, five cum laude, seven magna cum laude, five summa cum laude, and three nominated for Phi Beta Kappa. Twenty-eight students received Master’s degrees, and five received PhDs. A video of the graduation ceremony can be seen at this link:

Like most of the rest of the country, our university and city was rocked by anti-racism protests. Our department stands in solidarity with Black communities in the U.S. and with the greater BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community in their fight against systemic racism.

This fall we welcome our new undergraduate and graduate students and our two newest faculty, Assistant Professor Qi Cheng, who specializes in language deprivation and morphosyntactic processing, and ASL Assistant Teaching Professor Dan Mathis