11 new tenure-track faculty

Brianna Stapleton

The new tenure-track faculty members for 2006-2007 have been announced. Eleven new faculty members will join us on campus next year, adding new curriculum opportunities to many academic departments.
Elizabeth Carlson will be joining the art history department to teach classes in European and American visual culture. Carlson is completing her PhD at the University of Minnesota. Her current work examines texts and interpretations of visual displays in 19th-century Paris. She will teach several survey courses in art history and also a course in 19th-century art.
New to the art department is Benjamin Rinehart, who will be teaching printmaking and painting. Rinehart earned his MFA in printmaking from Louisiana State University.
Megan Pickett will be a new associate professor of physics. She holds a PhD in astrophysics from Indiana University and has taught at Purdue University Calumet and Valparaiso University.
Pickett conducted her post-doctoral research at the NASA Ames Research Center. Her interests include the origins of the solar system, star formation, and computational astrophysics.
Students interested in religious studies may want to explore classes offered by Martyn Smith, who has a PhD in comparative literature. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and is interested in Islamic studies. Smith will be teaching the religious studies intro course in spring term 2007, as well as the “Quran” and “The Hajj to Mecca” courses.
In the government department, Arnold Shober will be teaching American politics. His dissertation title is “Building Government: Autonomy, Responsibility, and Resilience in State Departments of Education.”
Shober is interested in the role of government agencies in shaping policies. He will offer a course titled “Elections, Candidates and Political Parties,” as well as an introductory government course.
One familiar face among the new tenure-track faculty will be Mark Urness. He has been teaching double bass as an adjunct faculty member in the Conservatory of Music for four years. He holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and specializes in jazz, music technology and composition.
Urness said, “The one thing that made me most excited about LU is the excellence of the Conservatory faculty both as educators and as performing artists. It is a rare combination and it is a very inspiring place to work.”
When asked about his goals for his time at Lawrence Urness replied, “To build the double bass studio into a raging monster that will eventually need its own building.”
Another fresh tenure-track faculty member in the Conservatory is Wen-Lei Gu, or Lei-Lei. She will teach violin and chamber music. Gu has won many prizes in violin performance and is completing her PhD in music at Indiana University.
Jake Frederick will be joining the history department. His field of study focuses on colonial Latin America and his previous experience includes teaching at the University of North Florida. He earned his PhD from Pennsylvania State University. Frederick’s classes next year include “Colonial Latin American History” and “Native American Empires.”
The Russian studies department is glad to have Peter-John Thomas joining them next year. He earned his master’s and PhD from Northwestern and teaches Russian language and literature. Thomas enjoys researching the patterns of thought in the poetry of Boris Pasternak.
Ronald Peck will be joining the biology department. Peck specializes in microbiology and his research goals include determining how microbes adapt and respond to extreme environments.
Lastly, the English department will be adding David McGlynn to their faculty. He obtained an MFA in creative writing from the University of Utah and is now completing his PhD in English literature and creative writing there as well.
McGlynn’s dissertation is a collection of stories titled “The End of the Straight and Narrow.” He is also the managing editor of the Western Humanities Review*. McGlynn will be teaching fiction writing and American literature classes.
When looking for potential tenure-track faculty, provost and dean David Burrows said, “We want individuals who are passionately committed to the concept of liberal education – that students develop intellectual and personal autonomy through enhancing their abilities to think, make judgments, use knowledge effectively and develop values.”
Concerning the new tenure-track faculty, Burrows said, “This is a group of people who have good records of teaching and scholarship or creative activity, and will engage Lawrence students effectively in the learning process.”
Generally, during the spring of their third year at Lawrence these professors will have an evaluation to see if they are achieving their goals here. According to the Faculty Development Guide, they will have the opportunity to be reviewed for tenure if they stay at Lawrence for approximately six years.
Many students have filled out the green “Survey of Student Opinion of Teaching” forms that appear in mailboxes. This is just one part of the tenure review process. These potential tenured professors must conduct a self-evaluation and also be reviewed by their fellow faculty members.
Each of these new professors also gets a current faculty member as a mentor. Dean of the Faculty Brian Rosenberg started the mentoring program in 1999.
The new professors must meet with their mentor several times throughout the year and the mentor observes some of their classes. The program also includes weekly meetings to check in and help the new professors adjust to the atmosphere of Lawrence.