Fellows to bring new academic opportunities to Lawrence

Liz Tubman

The Lawrence Fellows Program was recently established by President Beck to enhance academic opportunities here at Lawrence. The Fellows Committee, comprised of Lawrence faculty members Alexis Boylan, Marcia Bjornerud, Mark Jenike, Steve Jordheim, and Peter Glick, will bring in recent doctoral and MFA graduates who are beginning their academic careers for two- or three-year positions in various departments of the college and conservatory. The fellows will teach courses and offer individualized instruction for students while continuing their own professional activities as musicians or scholars.
This new program will be beneficial not only for students, but for faculty members and fellows as well. For students, having fellows on campus will mean increased course offerings and more opportunities for individualized instruction as well as an overall decrease in class size because of the additional faculty members.
For current Lawrence faculty members, having additional instructors will allow them to concentrate on teaching more specialized courses, tutorials, and advising independent studies. Students and professors will also have the opportunity to collaborate with fellows on various research projects and performances.
Beck, along with the Fellows Committee, hopes that the program will help the fellows in their transition from graduate school to academic careers. With a lighter teaching load, the fellows will be able to create new courses under less pressure while continuing their other professional activities. The Fellows Committee also hopes that, as the fellows pursue careers outside Lawrence, they will maintain ties to the university and thereby help improve Lawrence’s academic reputation.
The process of choosing fellows is very competitive; according to Glick, the Fellows Committee is “committed to hiring only extremely high-quality candidates.” The committee began by advertising in the Chronicle of Higher Education and on listservs – online mailing lists – in a variety of different fields. Applications were reviewed first by the Fellows Committee and then by individual departments. The departments conducted phone interviews with candidates they were interested in and decided whether to have on-campus interviews. The Fellows Committee reviewed these recommendations and authorized interviews for ten different departments and one interdisciplinary area. The interviews have all occurred in the last two weeks of April. Once the Fellows Committee reviews the feedback from faculty and students, they will make recommendations to Beck.
The committee is currently in the process of interviewing 11 candidates, and they hope to hire six fellows for the upcoming academic year. In future years, the committee hopes to have up to 20 fellows on campus.
All fields are eligible to seek a fellow. The current candidate fields include math, gender studies, music history, biology, psychology, geology, physics, philosophy, music composition, theatre/drama, and anthropology. The candidates’ academic backgrounds are impressive: the undergraduate schools of the prospective fellows include Harvard, Yale, Wellesley, Oberlin, Mount Holyoke, Tufts, Cornell University, and Colgate.
Glick remarked, “these candidates are talented young Ph.D.s who will enhance the intellectual atmosphere of the Lawrence community and create new opportunities for students in classes, collaborations, and individualized instruction.”
Beck and the Fellows Committee are looking forward to welcoming the new fellows into the Lawrence community next fall.