Endowed Chairs Announcement 2022

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By Ellen Percy Kraly, Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty May 12, 2022

To the Colgate Community:

I am so honored and so pleased to announce the following appointments to endowed chairs, effective July 1, 2022.

Endowed chairs recognize Colgate’s top faculty for academic achievement, distinguished teaching, and the promise of future contributions to Colgate and to wider scholarly communities. They enable the University to honor and recognize our faculty, provide additional resources to advance their work, and publicly acknowledge their value to the Colgate community. Colgate faculty engage in path-breaking research and scholarship and are afforded an honor of distinction within their respective disciplines and subfields.

The Third-Century Plan states, “A named professorship is the highest academic award that the University can bestow on a faculty member, and it lasts as long as the University exists. Thus, it is both an honor to the named holder of the appointment and also an enduring tribute to the visionary donor who establishes it.”

We greatly appreciate the generosity of those who provide gifts to support the excellent work and outstanding achievements of the Colgate faculty.

Please join me in celebrating these highly valued colleagues for their achievement of these significant professional accomplishments. And, I hope we can all agree that each of these recognitions are shared by us all as mentors and colleagues, and I thank you all. 

Third-Century Endowed Chairs

Established in 2022, the Sweet Family Chair recognizes excellence in teaching and scholarship and was created to assist faculty in engaging with new areas of intellectual inquiry beyond their current field of expertise. The selected faculty member is expected to produce new curricular innovations and scholarly work as an outcome of holding the chair, including developing new courses within all University programs, including the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. The holder is also encouraged to explore new pedagogical approaches to be shared with Colgate faculty.

Awardee: Jeffrey Bary, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy (BS Emory and Henry College, PhD Vanderbilt University)

Jeff Bary joined the Colgate faculty in 2008, following four and a half years of post-doctoral research at the University of Virginia, where he held an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship. As an observational astrophysicist, he uses both ground- and space-based observatories to study the formation of stars and planetary systems. He engages his students in every aspect of observational work, which includes traveling to world-class observing facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, or Hawaii. He teaches courses at all levels of astronomy, from introductory astronomy for non-majors to upper-level courses in astrophysics. He is author of a first-of-its-kind learning video game, At Play in the Cosmos, designed for collegiate-level introductory astronomy courses and created in partnership with Gear Learning and W. W. Norton. Since 2017 he has served as faculty co-director of Coleman and Irene Brown Commons. He also serves as the University Professor overseeing First-Year Seminars, Global Engagements, and Core Distinction. In addition, he is a frequent contributor to the Core Curriculum teaching a course about the Galileo affair and the nature of science as part of the Core Scientific Perspectives component and Core Appalachia as part of the Communities and Identities component.

Established in 2022 by Becky ’81 and Christopher Hurley ’81, P’12,’12, this is a permanent endowment fund created to assist Colgate University’s efforts in recognizing one or more Colgate faculty members who serve as leaders in strengthening dialogue and deliberation in the Colgate community. Recognizing the importance of education in democracy, the chairholder supports a climate of debate and deliberation that is open and robust; that does not suppress ideas because some consider them wrong, immoral, or offensive; and that helps give students the power to summon reason, to gather facts, and to encourage discourse that is sound, fair, and powerful. The chairholder models to our scholarly community the importance of careful and responsive listening and routes of moving conversations forward in positive ways. Through scholarship and teaching, the chairholder promotes habits of mind that are necessary for productive and civil speech and deliberative decision-making both within the Colgate community and in our democratic society.

Awardee: Spencer Kelly, Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences (BA Washington University; MA, PhD University of Chicago)

Spencer Kelly joined the Colgate faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in 2001, after a two-year post-doctoral appointment at the University of Louisville. Since arriving at Colgate, he has helped to shape the department curriculum with courses in cognitive neuroscience, language and thought, and research methods, including an online Great Course, Language and the Mind. The main focus of his research examines the interacting roles of body movements and language in communication and cognition, publishing numerous articles in psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics journals; and he has recently co-edited a book, titled Why Gesture? How the Hands Function in Speaking, Thinking and Communicating. Spencer has received multiple grants from the  National Science Foundation, including one that led to the creation of Colgate’s Center for Language and Brain. He is currently president of his research society, the International Society for Gesture Studies.

Appointments to Existing Endowed Chairs

Established by the Charles A. Dana Foundation in 1966. The foundation invited Colgate to participate in the Charles A. Dana Professorship Program. The fund provides research support for distinguished members of the Colgate faculty. Said professors are faculty members whose responsibilities are in teaching rather than administration. They may be faculty members who are new appointees, in a subject matter determined by the University.

Awardee: Carolyn Hsu, Professor of Sociology (BA Yale University; MA, PhD University of California, San Diego)

Carolyn Hsu joined the Colgate faculty in 2000. Her scholarship has examined the rise of entrepreneurship and NGOs in the People’s Republic of China and yielded publications in The Sociological QuarterlyEthnographyUrban AnthropologyChina QuarterlyVoluntas, and the Journal of Civil Society, among others. Her first book, Creating Market Socialism: How Ordinary People are Shaping Class and Status in China, was published in 2007. Social Entrepreneurship and Citizenship in China: the Rise of NGOs in the People’s Republic of China was published in 2017. Carolyn is currently part of a research team conducting a national survey in the PRC every two years to examine the ways that the relationship between citizens and the state in the People’s Republic of China has been affected by increased authoritarianism under Xi Jinping. This research has led to publications in DemocratizationChina Information, the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, and the Journal of Contemporary China. Carolyn’s contributions to the Colgate community are numerous and include service as Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department, co-authorship on two Colgate campus life survey reports (2006 and 2009), and membership on several elected and appointed campus committees, including the Committee on Promotion and Tenure and the pandemic Task Force for Re-Opening the Colgate Campus. Her teaching includes a wide range of sociology courses, a longstanding commitment to the Core Communities and Identities Program through her China course, and an extended study course that she co-teaches with Professor April Baptiste, Environmental Problems and Environmental Activism in China.

Established in 1988 by Harrington (Duke) Drake ’41, chairman emeritus of the Colgate University Board of Trustees and The Campaign for Colgate, to assist Colgate University’s efforts to attract and retain outstanding faculty in the Division of the Humanities. The chair(s) will be awarded to senior and/or junior faculty members. The chairholder(s) will be appointed by the provost and dean of the faculty based upon the individuals’ teaching excellence and scholarly achievements.

Awardee: Yukari Hirata, Professor of Japanese and Linguistics (BA, MA University of Tsukuba; PhD University of Chicago)

Yukari joined the Colgate faculty in 1999, after receiving her PhD from the University of Chicago. Her research interests are second-language speech acquisition, computer-assisted training for the acquisition of second language speech, the acoustical analysis of native and non-native speakers’ speech. Specifically, Yukari examines how non-native speakers learn to perceive and produce Japanese speech. She has published numerous articles and scientific studies that have appeared in, among others, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, and she is currently associate editor for the journal Language and Speech. Yukari’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Japan Foundation. At Colgate, she has served as chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and chair of the Linguistics Program; she teaches Japanese language and culture, linguistics, and language acquisition and is the founding co-director of the Center for Language and Brain.

Established in 1996 by the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation to support Colgate’s liberal arts core curriculum.

Awardee: Christian DuComb, Associate Professor of Theater (BA Haverford College; PhD Brown University)

Christian joined the Colgate faculty in 2012, soon after completing his PhD in theater history and performance studies at Brown University. His research and teaching interests include the formation of racial, gendered, and national identities through performance and the relationship between performance and place. Christian’s students consistently praise his passion for teaching and his wonderful ability to promote inclusive and lively discussion. His book, Haunted City: Three Centuries of Racial Impersonation in Philadelphia (University of Michigan Press, 2017), traces the deep roots of Philadelphia’s annual Mummers Parade through the city’s history of blackface masking and other forms of racial impersonation. His articles and reviews have appeared in the journals Modern Drama, Performance Research, Theatre Journal, and TDR, as well as the edited collections Performing Utopia (Seagull Books, 2017) and The Anatomy of Body Worlds (McFarland, 2009). Among his honors are the Cambridge University Press Prize from the American Society of Theatre Research (2012) and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to spend a year studying theater internationally (2001–02). His research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Central New York Humanities Corridor, and both the Arts Council and the Research Council at Colgate.

Established by the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust in 1972 in support of the Kenan Professorship. The chair supports a scholar-teacher whose enthusiasm for learning, commitment to teaching, and sincere personal interest in students enhances the learning process and makes an effective contribution to the undergraduate community.

Awardee: Douglas Johnson, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences (BA Washington University in St. Louis; PhD Johns Hopkins University)

Doug came to Colgate in 1996, after four years as a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. His research initially focused on cognitive functioning associated with the use of various drugs and alcohol, then shifted to include their connections to educational outcomes and institutional policies. His most recent publications are collaborations with a departmental colleague and are found in the Journal of College Student Development and Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy. At Colgate, Doug is a masterful teacher and has deservedly earned numerous campus awards, including the Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year, the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching, and the Colgate Alumni Corporation Distinguished Teaching Award. His teaching interests range from psychology core courses and summer opportunity programs for OUS students to research seminars and the Core Scientific Perspectives, Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Doug is known for his generous service to the University, including directing the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research, chairing the Scientific Perspective component of the core, serving as associate dean of the faculty (now in his second term), representing Colgate on the Patriot League Policy Committee, and in numerous other roles for the benefit of our university 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 the principles of diversity embraced by the institution.

Awardee: Janel Benson, Associate Professor of Sociology (BA Franklin and Marshall College; MA, PhD University of Pennsylvania)

Janel joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 2008. Her research and teaching interests are focused in life course studies, particularly in the study of risk and resilience in early life. Recently she has turned her attention to the study of low-income first-generation students and their experiences in selective colleges. In addition to numerous articles in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Developmental Psychology, Advances in Life Course Research, and Sociological Forum, her most recent publication, with co-author Elizabeth Lee, is Geographies of Campus Inequality: Mapping the Diverse Experiences of First-Generation Students (Oxford University Press, 2020), for which she was awarded a Spencer Foundation grant. She is active in intergroup dialogue on campus and in a local nonprofit organization, A Better Chance, which focuses on economically disadvantaged students; she has also chaired the Athletics Committee. Her own multi-method scholarly work — both quantitative and qualitative — has informed her teaching as well; she teaches Social Research Design and Methods, Sociology of Education, Community-Based Research, and the research-based Sociology Seminar. She will be promoted to professor of sociology on July 1, 2022.

Faculty Initiatives

In our third century, we aim to expand our academic footprint and bring more world-class educators to Colgate. Read more about our plans to provide more support to our outstanding scholar-teachers.