Lawrence departments search for new faculty

Sarah Morton

As Lawrence nears the winter midterm
season, several academic departments
continue conducting searches for new faculty members. These searches do not seek to increase the size of the faculty but rather replace retiring or leaving professors, said Dean of the Faculty David Burrows.
“These searches are to fill positions that are currently vacant,” said Burrows. “Some through retirements and some because faculty have left Lawrence for other reasons.” Lawrence has been searching for faculty to fill tenure-track vacancies in several departments, including art, art history, biology, the Conservatory violin studio, economics, English, history, physics, religious studies
and Russian. Additionally, the library is looking for a reference librarian.
The art department is currently in the preliminary stages of their faculty search, and will not begin professional meetings until the end of February. The department hopes to hire faculty in modern and American art history and painting and printmaking. Professor Carol Lawton also notes that the university
is “also applying for a Lawrence fellow in ceramics.”
Professor William Perreault will be retiring from the biology department at the end of the year. In regard to the search for his successor, Professor Nancy Wall stated, “We’ve had several
candidates visit campus and are currently deliberating about which candidate to make an offer. Although the search is not complete, we’re very pleased with our prospects.”
The English department has been specifically focused on finding a replacement
for Professor Mark Dintenfass, who will retire at the end of this academic
year. Currently, Dintenfass teaches
creative writing at Lawrence, and the individual hired by the university will, in the words of Professor Karen Hoffman, “be expected to keep the fiction writing program vibrant at Lawrence and to contribute to course offerings in literature.”
According to Hoffman, the English department has chosen three finalists from a group of talented and well-qualified
candidates. In addition, students will have the opportunity to hear these candidates read from their works. The first reading occurred Thursday. Two more are currently scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Feb. 2 and Feb. 7 in Main Hall 201. Students are welcome and encouraged to attend these readings.
The physics department is currently
concentrating on hiring faculty to replace professors David Cook and John Brandenberger. “Physics is conducting
two searches this year for tenure-
track positions to start in September 2006,” said Cook. “We will invite six candidates – three for each position – to campus.” Both professors have decided to adopt the “phased employment” option, which means they will work as half-time professors for the next two years and retire fully in June 2008. According to the department Web site, the department is searching specifically for an individual with a “Ph.D. degree in physics or a closely related field and must demonstrate a genuine interest in working with undergraduates … One position is to be filled by an experimentalist,
the other by a theorist, preferably with expertise in computation.” Cook also noted that “the fourth candidate is on campus right now and the remaining two will be on campus next week.”
The religious studies department
began searches last November to fill a tenure-track position for an individual focused in Judaism and/or Islam. Professors Karen Carr and Dirck Vorenkamp held initial interviews in Philadelphia, and have invited the top four candidates to Lawrence for more thorough interviews. “Our first on-campus interview was last week,” explained Vorenkamp. “We have one candidate here every week (including this week) through the week of Feb. 6-10.” Vorenkamp also said that he looks forward to the integration of fresh viewpoints
into the department. “We are very excited about these candidates; they are all very bright young scholars and already possess a high degree of scholarly training and teaching experience,”
he said.
Finally, the Russian department hopes to hire an associate professor to, in the words of Professor Brent Peterson, “Take charge of the Russian program, to give it more visibility on campus and to make it a vibrant part of the curriculum at Lawrence.” The department interviewed candidates at the Language Association Convention in Washington, D.C., and is considering
several individuals. According to Peterson, the department will probably
make a decision in March, when “several of the candidates have visited the campus, met with students, faculty and administrators and presented their work to the community.”
Thus, with the departure of many longtime Lawrence faculty members, students may expect to see new faces throughout the university. The departments
searching for faculty seem confident
in the promising candidates they are considering, and have dedicated themselves to finding individuals who will mesh well with the Lawrence setting
while bringing their own gifts and talents to the campus environment.