headshot of Sally Parry
Professor of English and Associate Dean Dr. Sally E. Parry

The College of Arts and Sciences has announced that Dr. Sally E. Parry, professor of English and associate dean for academic programs and student affairs, will retire after 33 years of service to Illinois State University, effective June 30, 2021.

“Sally Parry will be greatly missed, not just within the College of Arts and Sciences, but across the entire University,” Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Diane Zosky said. “She is one of those people we describe as ‘an institution’ and the type of person who is so integral to so many aspects of the University that she can go by just one name—Sally. Everyone knows who you are referencing with just her first name. Sally can be proud of all that she has given the University and what she is leaving behind, which is a better College of Arts and Sciences and a better Illinois State University due to all of her hard work,” Zosky added.

Parry began her career at ISU as a visiting professor in the department of English in 1988. She came to the University with her husband, Dr. Robert L. McLaughlin, now an emeritus professor of English. The courses she taught included 20th century American Literature, literature and popular culture of World Wars I and II, introduction to the major, senior capstone, women’s literature, adolescent series fiction, Bible as literature, and American film and theater.

From 1990-2000, she was the assistant to the department chair and undergraduate academic adviser in the Department of English. During this time, she also began advising the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, which she continues to do to this day.

For five years (2000-2005) Parry was the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English and for seven years (2005-2012) was the director of general education for the University.

In 2005, Dr. Gary Olson, then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, hired Parry to serve as associate dean for academic programs and student affairs. Hearing of her impending retirement, Olson, currently president of Daemen College (New York) said, “Smart, precise, and immensely knowledgeable about the curriculum, Sally was a delight to work with, but I especially loved her infectious sense of humor. I miss her to this day.”

“Sally has done it all: CTE, CGE, ENG, CAS, GE, AAC, MLA, ASPT, NACADA, not to mention BSC through WGS,” said Dr. Jonathan Rosenthal, who was Parry’s predecessor in the College office and who continued to work closely with her during the years he served as the associate provost for undergraduate education. “She’s been a leader in General Education, Advising, Curriculum, and Teacher Education, to name a few. Along the way, she’s been a problem solver, a skilled negotiator, an invaluable source of institutional memory, and a trusted collaborator and friend to many.”

Parry was the winner of ISU’s Herb Sanders Award for Outstanding Academic Advisement in 1994 and its Stan and Sandy Rives Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award in 2013. She was a 2009 recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the ISU Administrative/Professional (A/P) Council. She received a Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association in 1995 and the Outstanding Service to the College of Education by a Member of the University (ISU) Award in 2014.

She is the author, with Robert L. McLaughlin, of We’ll Always Have the Movies: American Cinema in World War II. Their subsequent volume, Broadway Goes to War: American Theater during World War II, will be published by the University Press of Kentucky in June. She is also the editor for two separate collections of Sinclair Lewis short stories and has been the editor of the Sinclair Lewis Society Newsletter since 1992. Her articles have appeared in numerous journals, and she has made many scholarly presentations nationally and internationally.

Since 1996, she has directed and produced shows at the Community Players Theatre in Bloomington, Illinois, and served as president of the group from 2012 to 2014.

Parry holds a Ph.D. in American literature from Fordham University. She is widely regarded as the country’s leading authority on the works of Sinclair Lewis and has served as the executive director of the Sinclair Lewis Society since 1994.

“Sally Parry leaves very large shoes to fill as she retires from her position as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Dr. Greg Simpson, who served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2011-2018. “Her vast knowledge of the history of the College and ISU is a tremendous asset to all who serve the University. As a result of her tireless service on many committees concerned with curricular and student matters, she knows virtually every member of the academic community. I also found it remarkable that in spite of the demands of her work in the dean’s office and on the many University committees, she continued to teach and mentor students. She also maintained a high level of scholarship, including the publication of books on film and drama during WWII (both co-authored with Robert McLaughlin), and her leadership role in the Sinclair Lewis Society. For her commitment to scholarship, to the growth of our students, and for her intelligence and wit, she will be greatly missed. I wish her a long and healthy retirement.”

The College will host a reception for Professor Parry from 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, on the plaza outside the Barnes and Noble bookstore in the Bone Student Center, with remarks at 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Bone Student Center.

 Thank you, Sally, for all that you have done for Illinois State University!