Retiree Spotlight: Thank you, Laura Wendorff

Laura Wendorff, a professor of various English courses of various levels, will be retiring from UW-Platteville after 27 years at the university.

Wendorff earned a BA degree in English and in history from UW-Madison and her PhD in American culture from the University of Michigan.

Her teaching career, spanning over 36 years in total, began when she was attending University of Michigan as a graduate student in 1984.

In the fall of 1993, Wendorff began teaching at UW-Platteville.

She started teaching College Writing I, College Writing II and African American Literature.

Then, she developed the American Literature of Ethnicity and Immigration course. And, in the past 15 to 20 years, she has also taught the American Literature surveys, Minority Women Writers, and Introduction to Women’s Studies courses.

How did you become interested in the field in which you taught?

“In college, I was interested in (and majored in) English and history. For a while, I thought I might teach high school, but I decided that my interests were pretty scholarly, so I decided against that. I had a history professor in college who taught a course in American cultural history, where he looked at visual art, literature, and intellectual history, and that really got me interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary graduate degree in American Studies (or American Culture, as it was called at the University of Michigan.)”

How did you become interested in teaching?

“My interest in teaching really grew on me the more I taught. Initially, coming out of graduate school, I kind of believed that everything was up to the student, and all I needed to do was present the material. The more I taught, the more I listened to my students, and the more I analyzed the problems some of them had with learning, the more I became interested in pedagogy. As I end my career, my strongest interest in terms of teaching is accessibility for students with disabilities.”

What are some fond memories of your time as a college instructor?

“I don’t have any single fond memory, but I will miss the joy of being in the classroom with students, of discussing things with them that I am passionate about.”

Do you have advice to share with students?

“Major in something you are passionate about because life is short, and you don’t want to spend thirty years in a job that you hate.”

Do you have any comments to add about your experience at UW-Platteville?

“I loved teaching here and I loved my job. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a job for twenty-six years that gave me so much joy.”

Do you plan on retiring from teaching entirely or do you plan to move to another institution after UW-Platteville?

“I don’t know yet. Right now, I don’t have any more plans to teach, and the state of Wisconsin won’t let retirees come back to work part time until two years after they retire. It’s possible that after two years, if I’m bored and the English department needs composition instructors, I might return part time.”