Mission
The Department of Spanish & Portuguese is a research-oriented unit made up of diverse and multidisciplinary faculty who specialize in language, literary and cultural studies, creative writing, linguistics, and Spanish for the professions. We provide students with diverse cultural perspectives, critical thinking skills, and awareness of contemporary and historical issues to prepare them to be multilingual global citizens. 

Vision
We aspire to become a national leader in Spanish and Portuguese. We strive to generate and disseminate knowledge and understanding about the languages, literatures and cultures of Hispanic and Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) peoples within the framework of an engaged Liberal Arts education aimed at a lifetime of learning and fostering greater understanding between peoples.

Strategic Plan

Goal

Produce multilingual undergraduate students whose knowledge of Hispanic and/or Lusophone language, literatures and cultures prepares them to be competent global citizens.

Strategy 1

Enhance the curriculum and opportunities for Spanish and Portuguese majors and minors.

Critical Tasks:

  • Assess curriculum and enrollment to identify strategic areas for course development [Portuguese, creative writing, Latin American studies, translation, interpreting, Spanish for heritage speakers, and Spanish for specific purposes (Spanish for business, health care, education and legal Spanish)] and expand current curriculum with literature and culture courses.
    • Identify gaps in the crucial areas of Spanish creative writing; Spanish American literature and culture; Portuguese and Brazilian literature and culture; linguistics; Spanish peninsular literature and culture; interpreting; and Spanish for professional purposes:
      • Plan curriculum development to close those gaps.
      • Hire T/TT faculty in the crucial areas of Spanish Creative Writing, Spanish American literature and culture, Spanish American and Brazilian literature and culture, Spanish linguistics, and Spanish peninsular literature and culture.
      • Redeploy current departmental instructional staff to support crucial areas of Spanish language instruction, Portuguese language, and Interpreting.
  • Allow students to customize their studies within their four-year degree plans:
    • Create plans of study for various student interests: heritage speakers, Latina/o/x studies, Latin American studies, Spanish peninsular studies, linguistics, Spanish for special purposes, translation, healthcare, education, Portuguese, etc., including potential study abroad opportunities;
    • Publish and maintain suggested plans of study on S&P website and encourage faculty to publish them on their courses’ ICON page.
  • Develop high-impact opportunities, such as student ambassadors, peer tutoring in GE Core, service/experiential learning, community engagement, UG research opportunities, and student-focused extracurricular organizations.
  • Develop a Spanish club and other extracurricular activities to enhance students’ sense of belonging.
  • Increase recruitment of URM UG students.

Strategy 2

Improve undergraduate student progression through the Spanish and Portuguese major and minor.

Critical Tasks:

  • Strengthen undergraduate advising:
    • Provide faculty and students with up-to-date degree requirements, course offerings, and advising best practices annually.
    • Incentivize faculty improvement of MyUI course descriptions and inclusion of information about future courses students could take by recognizing MyUI descriptions in annual merit pay evaluation.
    • With guidance from the Curriculum Committee, maintain an updated General Catalog of course offerings that provides a clear sequence for degree completion and recommended tracks for students who wish to take higher level courses.
    • Improve communications with the Academic Advising Center and the DWLLC professional advisor.
  • Evaluate student satisfaction through graduating student outcomes assessment survey annually.

Metrics:

  • By 2026, we will have enhanced the curriculum and opportunities for Spanish and Portuguese majors and minors, and using annual student surveys, we anticipate improvement in students’ satisfaction with their plans of study.

Goal

Prepare MA, MFA and PhD students for the creation and application of knowledge, for multiple career paths, and for collaborative research engagement in a global society.

Strategy 1

Continue to evolve our graduate programs.

Critical Tasks:

  • Acquire necessary resources to enable graduate curriculum development and instructional staffing in strategic areas of Spanish creative writing, Spanish American literature, Brazilian literature, Linguistics and Spanish Peninsular literature.
  • Assess graduate curriculum, teaching and advising to ensure effectiveness, currency, inclusiveness for URM students, and connection to faculty research and creative agendas.
  • Create current goals and outcomes for our graduate programs.
  • Add theory and secondary sources to MA reading lists.
  • Create a course rotation system to staff sufficient graduate courses.
  • Increase visibility of graduate programs to benefit recruitment of graduate students, including under-represented minority students, through department website with information on post-graduate careers and updates from program alumni, including their publications.
  • Develop recruiting targets for URM graduate students.

Strategy 2

Support the graduate student experience.

Critical Tasks:

  • Activate advising committees to ensure they work together throughout the student’s program(s) of study and meet with the student once a semester to ensure good progress toward degree.
  • Focus more on non-academic careers during graduate training; highlight training opportunities for careers outside the academy.
  • Periodically assess graduate student success within the program and after graduation, focusing on placement and publishing.

Metrics:

  • Increase in applications to our MA and PhD programs; increase in URM grad student enrollment; increase in graduate student satisfaction with their professional preparation.

Goal

Enhance the department’s profile through research and creative writing excellence and impact.

Strategy 1

Address recent resignation of assistant professor of U.S. Latina/o/x literature and culture.

Critical Tasks:

  • Assess role of U.S. Latinx Studies in department’s research and teaching mission.
  • Address retention of departmental URM faculty.
  • Work with related units to identify and staff crucial Latinx courses at UG and G level.
  • Explore TT hiring opportunities such as opportunity hires.

Strategy 2

Achieve optimal faculty balance and improve faculty time in rank.

Critical Tasks:

  • Create and implement a plan to support IF, assistant and associate professors to facilitate their promotion and improve retention, especially of URM faculty.
  • Rebalance service and teaching assignments to maximize efficiency and enable faculty to focus on their areas of strengths and new initiatives.
  • Hire research-active T/TT faculty to enhance the departmental research mission.

Strategy 3

Increase faculty research/creative work time.

Critical Tasks:

  • Commit departmental resources to support research faculty through travel/research funds and course releases.
  • Enable T/TT faculty to modify teaching loads for maximum research impact, e.g., from 2-2 to 3-1 or 3-2-0-3 [over 2 years].
  • Support linguistics faculty laboratory research:
    • Add lab space and facilities as necessary.
    • Distribute linguistics course load to increase opportunities to teach lab courses and also research time.
  • Support efforts to apply for grants, both internal and external, by pooling experience and expertise with specific application processes and making successful applications available as models - for AHI, NEH, Fulbright, etc. Explore opportunities for conversation around grant seeking strategies among faculty.

Strategy 4

Enhance the department’s research culture in collaboration with DWLLC and other units our faculty contribute to.

Critical Tasks:

  • Develop and implement a plan to foster a sense of community among the research-active scholars within the department. Possible activities: Weekly lectures, lunches, brown bag colloquiums, share our research with each other, share work-in-progress, discussion groups focused on recent faculty publications.
  • Create a better platform to disseminate our research and creative work [website, social media, press releases, department newsletter].
  • Hold an annual departmental faculty achievement celebration such as a book party.
  • Incentivize nominations for research awards by recognizing nominations in the annual merit pay review.

Metrics:

  • By 2026, we will have increased the number of grant applications, reduced faculty time in rank, enhanced the department’s research culture, and improved the department’s national ranking.

Goal

Strengthen departmental engagement and outreach.

Strategy 1

Expand the visibility of S&P on campus and across Iowa.

Critical Tasks:

  • Create an ad hoc strategic communications committee to assist DEO in coordinating with CLCL and DWLLC strategic communications and in creating and maintaining departmental platforms.
  • Create a better platform to publicize faculty and student achievements [website, social media, press releases, department newsletter].

Strategy 2

Expand engagement activities.

Critical Tasks:

  • Develop an engagement plan to strengthen, support and incentivize engagement:
    • Identify and document current engagement activities [such as translations for the International Writing Program].
    • Incentivize new engagement activities.
    • Strengthen engagement with the Latinx community on- and off-campus.
    • Periodically assess engagement activities to ensure satisfaction and effectiveness.

Strategy 3

Build a community of S&P alumni and donors.

Critical Tasks:

  • Work with Center for Advancement to cultivate S&P alumni and donors.
  • Publish a semi-annual departmental newsletter.
  • Participate in One Day for Iowa and other UI fundraising campaigns.

Metrics:

  • Increase in outreach activities and increase in donations to S&P accounts