We are at risk of losing another essential educator, artist, and mentor on campus. Professor Cassarino has touched so many of our lives as a valuable member of the English/Creative Writing department and an influential advisor in the First Year Seminar program. Professor Cassarino’s personal work and curriculum centers queer identity, race, food studies, experimental poetics, mindfulness, gender, liberation via art, and so much more. The way she holds safe, supportive space for critical conversations and creative process is unmatched in the department. The absence of Professor Cassarino would be losing an exemplary advocate for students within the faculty body.
The College has failed to offer Professor Cassarino a stable position under the English/Creative Writing department. Instead, she was recently stripped of benefits, teaching opportunities, and has been left facing job insecurity for the fourth year in a row. While Middlebury’s policies offer Visiting and/or Assisting professors longer term contract opportunities, Professor Cassarino has NOT been offered contracts that extend beyond an academic year, or other classes in the Creative Writing program, despite student requests. In addition to being an incredible mentor and teacher, she is a decorated poet recognized for her emphasis on queer subject matter and teaches syllabi that focus on race, queerness, gender, and other intersecting identities, all of which would fill notable gaps in current English/Creative Writing course offerings. There are few other Creative Writing professors in the department who center the queer experience in their published and popular work. Such an absence in faculty diversity brings to question the priorities of the English/Creative Writing department, and what opportunities we as students are offered to write in accordance with identity and oftentimes under-represented subject matter in academia.
Professor Cassarino has taught over 20 courses at Middlebury since 2004 in both English and Creative Writing, as well as First Year and Sophomore Seminars. She currently has nearly 40 advisees, including those in the English/Creative Writing department, and innumerable students who consider her an irreplaceable mentor. See the Courses tab to read about what she’s taught and has in prep. We are advocating for her to receive a 3-year contract with benefits, which represents the bare minimum the College can offer to recognize her devotion to students as an educator and importance to the campus community. Please see the Testimonials tab to read letters of support from past and current students, as well as faculty colleagues. If you would like to share a testimonial, you can access the submission form here. We greatly appreciate your time and support!