Colgate University Announces New Endowed Chair Appointments

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At their recent meetings, the Board of Trustees approved the following appointments effective July 1, 2020.

Third-Century Endowed Chairs

The creation of four new Third-Century Endowed Chairs was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2020. All newly established Third-Century Endowed Chairs will come with a four-course load.

The holders of these chairs were recommended by President Brian W. Casey and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey E. Hucks ’87, MA’90 in consultation with the Dean’s Advisory Council, and they were confirmed by the Board of Trustees at their most recent meeting.

The Rebecca Chopp Chair in the Humanities

Established in 2019 by former members of Colgate University’s Board of Trustees, with the guidance and support of President Brian W. Casey, in honor of the University’s 15th president, Rebecca S. Chopp, this is a permanent endowment fund created to recognize outstanding scholars and teachers in the humanities. The initial funding of the chair was provided by a lead group of donors in appreciation for President Chopp’s effective leadership and commitment to academic excellence.

Awardee: Constance Harsh

Constance Harsh is professor and chair of English. She came to Colgate in 1988, having received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her scholarly specialty is Victorian fiction, and she has published on the English industrial novel, the New Woman novel, and the fiction of George Gissing, particularly his representation of women’s subjectivity. 

An impressive teacher, Harsh has taught courses in the history of the novel, Victorian fiction, the Brontës, the female protagonist, and introductory literary study. Within the Department of English, she has directed numerous honors theses of Colgate seniors. She has also been an ardent supporter of the core curriculum, having taught the modernity course in the various forms that it has taken since her arrival, and serving as director of the Core 152: Challenges of Modernity component and as director of the Division of University Studies. Currently, as an active member of the Advisory Group of the emerging Robert H.N. Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative, she supports collaborations and programs that highlight the interdisciplinary intersections of neuroscience and literature. 

Harsh’s service beyond the department and the Core has been dedicated and diligent, as she has taken on complex roles as wide ranging as chair of the Committee on Faculty Affairs, co-chair of the Middle States Self-Study at the time of the institution’s decennial reaccreditation, president of the Colgate chapter of the AAUP, and — most notably — interim provost and dean of the faculty from 2015 to 2017.

The Carl Benton Straub ’58 Endowed Chair in Culture and the Environment

Established by Carl Benton Straub ’58, this is a permanent endowment fund created to support teaching and scholarship focused on the interplay between activities believed to be quintessentially human (religion, philosophy, art, literature, language, history, or related interdisciplinary programs) and the processes of the nonhuman natural world. 

Awardee: Jason Kawall

Jason Kawall is professor of philosophy and environmental studies. One of the first of several scholars hired into a joint appointment at Colgate when he arrived in 2003, Jason’s wide-ranging scholarship is concerned with human values and commitments. As a theorist of ethics and particularly lived ethics — the question of what it means to live a good life — he has published philosophical essays such as “Testimony, Epistemic Egoism, and Epistemic Credit,” European Journal of Philosophy (2019) and “Qualified Agent and Agent-Based Virtue Ethics and the Problems of Right Action” (2013).

Much of Kawall’s work focuses on environmental ethics. He is editor of The Virtues of Sustainability, forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and has published many essays on the topic, including, most recently, “Virtue Epistemology and the Environment” (2019); “Equitable Local Climate Action Planning: Sustainable & Affordable Housing” (2018); and “Environmental Virtue Ethics” in The Oxford Handbook of Virtue (2018).

At Colgate, Kawall has served as director of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs and as director of the Environmental Studies Program. In addition to regularly teaching Environmental Ethics and Introduction to Philosophical Problems, he also offers electives such as Topics in Environmental Philosophy and Contemporary Epistemology. Students find him to be an extraordinary guide into deep and hard questions of human ethics and praise his patient philosophical introduction to questions of virtue and environmental commitment.

The W. Bradford Wiley Chair in International Economics

The W. Bradford Wiley Chair in International Economics supports and encourages a scholar-teacher in the field of international economics, whose intellectual vigor, commitment to teaching, and sincere personal interest in students will enhance the learning process and make an effective contribution to Colgate’s academic community. 

Awardee: Chad Sparber

Chad Sparber, professor of economics, came to Colgate in 2006 from the University of California–Davis, where he earned his PhD in economics. His areas of specialization are immigration, international economics, and urban economics. His work examines the causes and consequences of U.S. immigration, with a focus on the connection between immigration and skills. His commitment to teaching and sincere personal interest in students’ learning processes are evident in all his teaching: the courses he offers are Economics of Immigration, International Economics, Economics of Race and Ethnicity, Urban Economics, Introduction to Economics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Introduction to Statistics, and the first-year seminar Economics for Non-Economists.

Sparber’s recent scholarly publications include “New Data and Facts on H-1B Workers across Firms” (2020); “Estimating the Determinants of Remittances Originating from U.S. Households using CPS Data” (2020); “Substitution between Groups of Highly-Educated, Foreign-Born, H-1B Workers” (2019); “The Effect of the H-1B Quota on the Employment and Selection of Foreign-Born Labor (2018); and “Choosing Skilled Foreign-Born Workers: Evaluating Alternative Methods for Allocating H-1B Work Permits” (2018). His work has been cited in a range of media venues, including Forbes, Bloomberg, NPR Marketplace, Christian Science Monitor, and the Huffington Post.

His service to the University includes serving as chair of the Department of Economics and as a member of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Advisory and Planning Committee. In his capacity overseeing the Forum on Economic Freedom in the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, he has brought speakers on immigration, the economics of philanthropy and altruism, the international debt crisis, and the virtues of free enterprise to Colgate. His service to the profession includes being a member of the editorial board of the Eastern Economic Journal. He is affiliated with the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany. 

The Daniel C. Benton ’80 Endowed Chair in Arts, Creativity, and Innovation

Established in 2020 by Daniel C. Benton ’80, this is a permanent endowment fund created to assist Colgate’s efforts in recognizing teaching excellence and scholarly achievements in the field of arts, creativity, and innovation and to support the University’s efforts to promote the Middle Campus. 

Awardee: Mary Simonson

With scholarship that bridges comparative studies in music (her PhD field) as well as dance, film, theater, performance studies, media studies, women’s studies, cultural studies, feminist theory, and queer theory, Simonson is a truly interdisciplinary scholar, teacher, and campus leader. She was jointly appointed in film and media studies and women’s studies and has served as director of film and media studies. Her first book, Body Knowledge: Performance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2013), was acclaimed as a pathbreaking work of scholarship on performance and politics at a critical moment in U.S. history. She has written as well on Isadora Duncan, the Salome dance craze, Richard Wagner’s operas, and many other musicological and performance-related topics. Her recent scholarship focuses on the role of the prologue in silent films.

Simonson has curated the important Friday Night Film Series and served as Colgate’s liaison to the Flaherty Film Seminar, an international film series hosted every June by Colgate. She co-developed a performing and media arts extended study in Hong Kong and has been working with the Independent Filmmaker Project in Brooklyn to develop programming and internships for Colgate students. She is the inaugural co-director of Brown Commons, one of the Residential Commons. Through the Brown Commons coffeehouse series, she has brought her passion for music to the students in the commons.

Simonson regularly teaches Introduction to Film and Media Studies, a course on Music, Film, and Media, as well as Introduction to Women’s Studies. Students find her to be a highly compelling teacher, adept at conveying complex theoretical material in media studies in an accessible and inviting way.

Simonson has played a critical role in the vision for the Middle Campus Arts, Creativity, and Innovation initiative. She formed a working group with faculty members from computer science, theater, and film and media studies and, with them, began conversations about weaving technology into Colgate’s vision for the arts.

Appointments to Existing Endowed Chairs

Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professorship

Established in 1974 through generous gifts from John K. Colgate Sr. H’69 and members of his family as a memorial to Russell Colgate, the chair is awarded to a distinguished faculty member in a department or field designated by the dean of the faculty and the president of the university.

Awardee: Ken Belanger

Ken Belanger, professor of biology, came to Colgate in 2001. He specializes in developmental, cellular, and molecular biology and genetics. The recipient of numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, his research focuses on understanding how cells respond genetically to changes in their environment. Ken’s scholarship has been published in DNA and Cell Biology, Genetics, Science, Current Genetics, Encyclopedia of Genetics, and others.

A consummate undergraduate educator, Belanger teaches biology courses from introductory to advanced levels as well as Cells and Human Development, a Scientific Perspectives course in the core curriculum. His teaching emphasizes understanding the process by which scientific information is obtained, and his stated goal is to ensure that students leave his courses having taken a significant step toward “thinking like a biologist.” Students praise his clear, accessible lectures as well as his brilliance and approachability. In 2010, Belanger was recognized with the Colgate University Alumni Corporation Distinguished Teaching Award.

Belanger is a dedicated and highly valued colleague. He is newly elected to the Committee on Promotion and Tenure and has served as associate dean of the faculty (2015–19), chair of the Department of Biology (2011–14), Colgate’s NCAA faculty athletics representative, and faculty liaison to the Colgate football team, for which he received the John LeFevre Appreciation Award for Contributions to Colgate Athletics.

Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Chair in Liberal Arts Studies

The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Chair in Liberal Arts Studies supports the academic, intellectual, and administrative leadership for the core program. The chair rotates among senior faculty, allowing a faculty member to turn his or her attention to some aspect of the core program (e.g. overall assessment of development of a particular component of the curriculum) during the term of the appointment, ensuring that the program continues to evolve in a vigorous and exciting manner.

Awardee: Elizabeth Marlowe

Elizabeth Marlowe is associate professor of art and art history and University professor for Core 151: Legacies of the Ancient World. She holds degrees from Smith College, the University of Cambridge, and Columbia University (PhD). Her fields of specialization are ancient art, late antiquity, the city of Rome, and Roman imperial monuments. She is the author of Shaky Ground: Context, Connoisseurship, and the History of Roman Art (Bloomsbury, 2013) and other publications on Roman art history and historiography.

Marlowe’s interests in museum studies, critical museum theory, the art market, cultural property, and antiquities looting and repatriation led to her developing a minor in museum studies at Colgate. She now serves as the founding director of the interdisciplinary Museum Studies Program, newly housed in the Division of University Studies. Research for articles such as “The Reinstallation of the Getty Villa: Plenty of Beauty but Only Partial Truth” (American Journal of Archaeology); “Seizure of Looted Antiquities Illuminates What Museums Want Hidden” (Hyperallergic); and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Provenance” (International Journal of Cultural Property) have shaped her teaching in museum studies courses like Critical Museum Theory and Looting, Faking, Collecting, and Understanding Antiquities.

As a teacher of Roman art, Marlowe introduces her students to questions of reception and reuse of ancient monuments in the modern world by scholars, collectors, governments, and various other interest groups. Similarly, in her teaching of Core 151, she focuses on modern uses of the classical past, exploring the many and varied literary, artistic, and political afterlives of the course’s core texts. In addition to teaching Core 151 regularly and serving as University professor for the component, Marlowe serves as a member of the Core Revision Committee.

Arnold A. Sio Chair in Diversity and Community

Established in 2004 by John K. Runnette ’54, and created in honor of Arnold A. Sio, professor of sociology and anthropology emeritus, the fund is intended to assist Colgate University’s efforts to support and recognize outstanding scholars, who, through research, teaching, and service activities, demonstrate a sustained commitment to principles of diversity embraced by the institution. This chair is awarded for a two-year term to a current faculty member or a distinguished visitor by invitation. The chairholder(s) may be appointed by the dean of the faculty. The chairholder is expected to provide creative and strategic leadership on issues of diversity through substantive contributions to the community in the form of on-campus programming and other related activities.

Awardee: Hélène Julien

Hélène Julien, professor of romance languages, came to Colgate in 1994 after studying at Princeton University and Paris-Sorbonne University. She teaches courses in French grammar and literature, literature from North Africa and its diaspora, women’s studies, and Francophone studies. In her scholarship and teaching, Julien takes an encompassing view of language studies, seeking to explore how we come to be who we are, how we tell our own stories, and what it means to be a human community.

Julien has lectured widely, published many essays and articles, and authored “Le roman de Karin et Paul:” Le Journal de Catherine Pozzi et les Cahiers de Paul Valery, (“The novel of Karin and Paul:” The Diary of Catherine Pozzi and the Notebooks of Paul Valery) (L’Harmattan, Paris, 2000). She is currently working on a book on the figure of the runaway youth in Beur and Maghrebi literature.

As a teacher, Julien makes the classroom a space of individual and collective exploration, critical reflection, and dialogue. Her students view her as a challenging yet accessible professor, one who is energetic, caring, and invested in their success. A four-time nominee for the Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year Award, she was honored with the ALANA Appreciation of Service Award in 2010 and 2013. Her sustained and active engagement with the Office of Undergraduate Studies, her leadership as director of Women’s Studies and of LGBTQ Studies, and her service as a member of the Faculty Affirmative Action Oversight Committee and the ALANA Affairs Committee are just a few manifestations of Julien’s sustained commitment to the principles of diversity embraced by Colgate.

Roy D. and Margaret B Wooster Chair

Established in 1988 through the generosity of Roy Wooster Jr. ’50 in honor of his mother and father, a 1921 graduate, the donation completed a challenge from the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a permanent endowment for a professorship in the humanities. The Wooster Chair is awarded to a distinguished teacher and scholar of the classics and/or religious studies.  

Awardee: Rebecca Ammerman

Professor of the Classics Rebecca Ammerman came to Colgate in 1982, and her research interests include Greek and Phoenician foundations in the western Mediterranean, indigenous populations of southern Italy, and terracotta figurines and their use in the practice of religion in ancient Italy and Greece. She has published a book, The Sanctuary of Santa Venera at Paestum II: The Votive Terracottas (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor: 2002), and many essays, including “Terracottas,” in The Chora of Metaponto 7: The Greek Sanctuary at Pantanello, J.C. Carter and K. Swift, eds. (University of Texas Press, Austin 2018). She has also published reviews in the Journal of Roman Archaeology, American Journal of Archaeology, and Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections.

At Colgate, Ammerman serves as chair of the Department of the Classics. A classical archaeologist, she enjoys the opportunity to engage students beyond the traditional classroom. She has led students to study archaeological sites over the entire length of the Italian Peninsula — from the Alps to Sicily — and to Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Rome, Cumae, and Pompeii. In the summer months, students frequently work as her research assistants at the archaeological sites of Paestum and Metaponto.