Each semester at SHSU provides a new beginning, for both students and professors alike, and the same holds true for Dr. Helena Halmari, who was selected in the spring to oversee the position of Interim Chair of the English department.
“I did not apply for it. I was asked to do it, but I did not expect I’d be asked,” Halmari said. “Therefore, I was mostly surprised.”
Dr. Halmari has replaced Dr. Bill Bridges, former Chair of the English department, who stepped down last spring. As the title implies, this is not a permanent position, but temporary while a search for a permanent replacement is being conducted.
Dr. Douglas Krienke, an Associate Chair and Professor of the English department shared his thoughts on the selection.
“I’m very pleased over her appointment as Interim Chair,” he said. “I believe she’ll bring to the department a new sense of vision, focus, and direction.”
Originally from Finland, where she obtained two master degrees at the University of Tampere, Halmari came to the United States in 1989 to continue her education and her study of Linguistics.
“I taught English and Russian in a high school, and then I took a year off in order to study a little bit more in the United States,” Halmari said.
After her arrival in the United States, she obtained a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Southern California in 1994, and has been teaching at SHSU since 1995.
“I think the theory of language is fascinating,” said Halmari. “There are many different things you can look at when you study Linguistics, or do research in Linguistics, because language is involved in everything we do.”
As the Interim Chair for the English department, Halmari’s primary concern is to bring a fresh new outlook on the department, and to promote the department and its teachers.
“The main issue is that I want the university to know how good the English department is, how much talent is here, and how much research we’re doing,” said Halmari. “We have a lot of good faculty here.”
Halmari said the English department has a lot to offer, such as, another Foreign Film series, a Colloquium Series, and a multitude of events that are lined up throughout the semester.
“I would like to welcome the students to take English classes as electives, rather then just the obligatory courses. We have a lot of wonderful things that work as electives,” Halmari said. “You take an English class and the skills you learn there are applicable to life.”