New fellows search underway

Aline Drr

Fourteen departments at Lawrence are currently looking for new fellows. This marks the second search for Fellows since the program’s initiation last year.
The program was initiated last year and Lawrence currently has eight postdoctoral fellows that were chosen from more than 240 applicants from Australia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.
A general ad was placed in the Chronicle of Higher Education in December and departments advertised in field-specific outlets.
Even though the available fields were restricted to 14 this year, Lawrence has received 614 applications, which represents an almost 300 percent increase over the first year.
Applicants came from all eight Ivy League schools, all Big 10 schools, several top campuses in the University of California system – ranked as the premier public university system – such as Berkeley and Santa Barbara, and premier private universities in England, such as Oxford and Cambridge.
The hiring process includes many forms and is a very rigorous process. Departments are currently reviewing files and must fill out an interview recommendation form for up to two candidates by Friday. This form requires them to justify their recommendation and must be based on a phone interview.
The Fellows Committee will then review departmental recommendations and recommend which candidates ought to be interviewed on campus. Departments may interview only their best candidate and students play a very significant role in this on-campus visit.
After campus interviews, which include interviews by the Fellows Committee, departments will fill out another form in favor of hiring the candidate they interviewed. This form is also available online so students, applicants, alumni and faculty can see how departments have to justify their desire to hire.
The Fellows Committee will review the forms and discuss their own interviews with candidates. They will then make recommendations to President Beck, who will make the final call.
Of the 600 applicants, Lawrence currently has room for only four more fellows. Beck will probably seek funding for more, but it is likely that only 1 percent of those who applied will be hired. Lawrence was one of five institutions nationwide that was awarded $100,000 by the New York-based Teagle Foundation to support the fellows program.
What are the departments looking for? Peter Glick, director of the program, said, “The best and the brightest, which means basically the most exciting, talented teacher-scholar-performers who can do great work with students and faculty, increase intellectual excitement on campus and teach great classes.”
Departments also look for people who look like they will enhance the department’s offerings and are likely to work with the faculty.
Lawrence’s director of research administration, Bill Skinner, stated that the results of the study – which includes self-assessment of teaching and scholarship, video and in-class observations, course evaluations, and surveys – “are expected to provide beneficial information not only on the Lawrence Fellows program but be helpful to programs conducted at other institutions as well.”
David Sunderlin, the fellow in the geology department, is amazed by the questions the students ask in and after class and the close relationship between teachers and students.
“It helps me to find out how to teach the class and it is great to see how the students respond to it and raise new topics that they are really interested in,” he said.
Annette Thornton from the Department of Theatre Arts said, “I met a generous group of faculty during the Freshman Studies Symposium who became my champions and lifelines during the term. I also had the privilege and joy to work closely with my theater colleagues on the fall play. These two opportunities combined gave me a realistic view of the “Lawrence Difference.”
For students who are interested in taking classes held by current fellows, here are some of in the course offerings by Lawrence Fellows in spring term: Topics in Music History: Life and Times with Daniel Barolsky, The American Musical with Annette Thornton, Absolute Idealism with Jennifer Keefe, Surficial Processes with David Sunderlin or Introduction to Queer Theory with Melanie Boyd.

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