Dr. Craig Sirles, BA ‘75/H&S, is a self-described “dedicated and serious student of words” so it is no surprise that his love of language and writing led him to be a student in the Department of English in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. His studies put him on a path that later included a doctorate in linguistics from Northwestern, teaching courses in etymology and philology and the publication of a Root Awakenings, a textbook on etymology for honors-level high school English classes.
Sirles, now retired, is a professor emeritus of English and former associate chair of the English Department at DePaul University. His experiences as a student in the VCU Department of English inspired him to pledge $100,000 to establish the Craig Sirles MA in English Scholarship that provides funding for a first-year graduate student engaged in literary studies in English. “More than any major I can think of, the English major imbues students with a sense and a sensitivity to the possibilities of oral and written expression: style and grace, diction, sentence structure, figurative language, levels of meaning, and rhetorical strategies for reaching your audience. Certainly, my English classes at VCU gave me this sense.”