English Studies Alumni Advisory Board

The ISU English Studies Alumni Advisory Board was founded in 2012 to promote a public understanding of the unique nature of today’s English Studies; establish and maintain a network of English Studies alumni; foster internships for mentoring of current students and alums; assist in recruiting high quality students; collaborate with current faculty on creating and hosting public events that feature English Studies and that adds to its scholarly and creative programs ; and assist in development activities to provide economic support for English Studies at the University.

The ISU English Studies Alumni Advisory Board is made up of Illinois State University alumni and former faculty. Ex-officio (non-voting) faculty and staff from the Department of English advise the Board.

Current Members

Portrait of Leslie Bertagnoli

Leslie Bertagnoli

| B.A., 1970; M.A., 1971

Leslie Bertagnoli is a retired attorney who practiced trademark and copyright law for thirty-eight years with the international firm of Baker & McKenzie LLP where she was head of the North American Intellectual Property Practice Group and member of the firm’s Global IP Practice Steering Committee for six years. She is a native of Bloomington-Normal and holds a B.A. and M.A. from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. She and her husband, Kenneth P. Taube, reside in Long Grove, Illinois. She is a violinist and founding member of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra of lawyers, judges and members of the legal profession. Her current projects include curating a downtown Chicago condominium library and facilitating the distribution of free books to organizations including a Township Office and Metra Station in suburban Chicago.

Portrait of Elaine Dion

Elaine Dion

| BS ‘73, MA ‘85, DA ‘92

Spent over forty years in education, teaching English/Language Arts at the middle school and high school levels as well as composition courses at the college level. She also authored/coauthored twelve teaching materials books, led teacher workshops for Regional Offices of Education 26 and 33, coordinated school improvement, and trained writing tutors for Quincy University. She attributes classes at ISU and encouragement from ISU professors as giving her the confidence to use her degrees in multiple ways.

Portrait of Bruce Erickson

Bruce Erickson


Portrait of Deborah Fox

Deborah Fox

| B.S., 1979

Deborah Fox currently serves as the assistant dean for external relations in the Illinois State University College of Arts and Sciences. After graduating from ISU in 1979, she taught high school English for six years. In 1985, she joined the staff of the National Council of Teachers of English in Urbana, Illinois. From 1997 through 2004, she was the central and southern Illinois sales representative for a major textbook publishing company. Debbie worked as a development officer at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, prior to coming to Illinois State in 2006. She holds a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University.

Portrait of Susan Hazlett

Susan Hazlett

| B.S., 1985

With a career in communications that spans 35 years, Susan Hazlett is currently a director in the Agency department at State Farm Insurance. Previous career experiences include journalism at several Illinois newspapers and brand management at organizations such as Caterpillar, Inc. A graduate of Illinois State University, her freelance newspaper column has appeared weekly in The Pantagraph for more than 25 years. She has won Associated Press writing awards and Illinois State University's Outstanding Graduate Award.

Portrait of Jacqueline Johnson

Jacqueline Johnson


Portrait of James A. Knecht

James A. Knecht

| B.S. ‘68

Used his appreciation for language and literature in a legal career as a lawyer, Circuit Judge and now Justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois, serving the judiciary for 44 years. He also serves on the Illinois State Foundation Board of Directors.

Portrait of Linda Lienhart

Linda Lienhart


Linda Lienhart taught English at Bloomington High School for 32 years, during which time she initiated the Advanced Placement Composition course, taught AP workshops around the Midwest, served as a Reader and Table Leader for the yearly assessment of the AP Language Composition exam, and advised the BHS yearbook. She completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in the ISU English Department, with a special emphasis on the Teaching of Writing. She participated in the National Writing Project at ISU and worked with Dr. Ron Fortune and Dr. Janice Neuleib on an NEH grant to research and implement new strategies for teaching writing. Most recently, Linda served as Coordinator of Student Teaching for the ISU English Department.

Portrait of Janice Witherspoon Neuleib

Janice Witherspoon Neuleib

| M.A., 1970

Earned the Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in 1974 and is Emeritus Professor of English at Illinois State University. Professor Neuleib taught high school for three years before coming to ISU. She has been in the department since 1970 and has worked extensively with the teaching of writing and pedagogy. She initiated the Writing Center (1976-1986) that become the University Center for Learning Assistance (1986-1996), then directed the Writing Programs for the department and university (1996-2006). She has worked closely with teachers at all levels through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the Illinois State Writing Project (with a National Writing Project grant), the Illinois Association of Teachers of English, and the National Council of Teachers of English. She has worked with scores of teacher/graduate students on their theses and dissertations and continues to participate in teaching research and development.

Portrait of Cindy Ross-Ringer

Cindy Ross-Ringer

| B.S. 1971; M.S. 1973

Taught briefly at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Illinois before accepting a position with State Farm Insurance Companies, where she spent the remaining 30+ years of her career. She worked in Illinois and Michigan, holding positions in several departments, including Human Resources, Public Affairs and Agency. In 2012, she retired as Director of Sales Communications. Cindy is the chairperson of the English Studies Alumni Advisory Board.

Portrait of August Schiess

August Schiess

| B.A. 2013

Is the director of social media for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, overseeing the vision and content for the University-level social media accounts. She enjoys strategically using writing, design, photography, and video to tell the Illinois story—and helping others do the same. She received her bachelor's degree in English publishing studies from Illinois State University and a master's degree in advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Current Ex-Officio Faculty and Staff

Chris De Santis portrait
Chris De Santis

Department Chair

Angela Haas portrait
Angela Haas

Graduate Program Director

Libby Harness portrait
Libby Harness

Office Administrator

Julie Jung portrait
Julie Jung

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Mark Vegter portrait
Mark Vegter

Assistant to the Chair