In the second part of our interview with English linguistics professor and Graduate Coordinator Clai Rice, he talks about why UL's graduate students are better at getting professional appointments at colleges around the country, how writing is critical, and why UL is unusual among large state universities.

The first part of this interview can be read here.

You're currently the acting head for English.

Yes, for the summer. The chair had been Marcia Gaudet, but she's working with the Ernest Gaines Center. The new chair is going to be Jim McDonald. He's a rhetorician.

You're also the graduate coordinator.

One of the things we do with our graduate students, one of the things I like, is that our students aren't overspecializing. Coming out of the graduate program at UL right now, you're not likely to get a job at Yale right off the bat.

So we're trying to prepare our kids for jobs that they're likely to get. We're not preparing them for the top-notch universities, but for most of your public universities and liberal arts colleges. One of our graduates just took a job at St. Leo's in Tampa. We had another who got on at Old Dominion. Good schools, no doubt, but not headliners.

The main reason they're getting these jobs is because they're not focusing on a single topic. We're requiring them to have diversity in their studies. Even if they specialize in say, rhetoric, or Victorian novels, they still have experience teaching composition courses, and they've had courses in other areas of English studies.

What's something important about the UL English Department that you want people to know?

One of the most important things to us is that every student on campus has to come through English. So what we do is extremely important, it's reading, it's writing. We can't teach them all the skills they need, so we'd really like to see the rest of the University do more writing and essay papers. Not just paragraphs and questions, but more in-depth writing. It's something we need across the University. Most of the UL faculty would agree with me.

Why don't they teach that way?

It's hard to do with 250 kids in a class... there are ways to do it, by using teaching assistants. If we don't require our students to write essays in many more of their classes, they won't be able to refine the skills they're learning in their English classes.

For people who work in engineering, in the gas company, wherever, the ones who are promoted are the ones who can speak and write.

Frankly, it's especially important in a University with our history, and our mission. [The late] David Thibodeaux's family just unveiled the portrait of him. David is a great example of what makes this place special. There was never a student who came to him for help, whom he wouldn't work with. He would overload his classes, teach all day, and then go work on the School Board at night. And it wasn't about David. His motives were never in doubt.

That's why UL is different. It's not just about scholarship, it's about working with the community, working with the students. It's about working with people who want to learn and improve themselves, and their community.