Four visiting professors to join for the 17-18 academic year
Four new postdoctoral fellows will join the faculty next year in an effort to improve its diversity.
Alvaro Corral, who specializes in Latino politics and immigration policy, will join the political science department; Scarlett Hester, a specialist in rhetoric and media studies, will join the communication studies department; Eunsong Kim, a poet and researcher in literature and cultural studies, will join the English department; and Carlo Moreno, whose focus is in food systems and agriculture, will join the environmental studies program.
The fellowship positions are made possible by the Reggie Williams and Dale Perry Fund, which was created by the Board of Trustees in October following a demonstration by the campus community. The demonstration was a silent protest in response to outcry surrounding a comment made by a member of the Board.
According to Carolyn Newton, the provost of the College, the hiring of four postdoctoral fellows at a time is a first for Wooster.
“We believe that the experience of the four faculty members will be enhanced by being part of the cohort, similarly to how the Posse program works for students,” Newton said, referencing a program by the Posse Foundation where high school students are selected in groups of ten to receive four-year scholarships to the same college.
Applications for the fellowships were received from the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, an association of 48 liberal arts colleges of which Wooster is a member. The Consortium is dedicated to increasing the representation of minority groups at colleges, particularly among faculty.
Departments at Wooster that were interested in having a fellow sent proposals to the College. Departments whose proposals were selected then interviewed Consortium applicants with matching expertise.
“I think one of the English Department’s main goals [in having a fellow] is to provide students with as much diversity as possible in terms of literature and culture,” Professor Dan Bourne, chair of English, said. “That goes for whom students work with as well as read.”
In addition to pursuing research within their area of interest, the fellows will each teach around three courses next year in their departments. In English, Kim is planning to teach additional classes on Asian-American literature, as well as on the connection between literature, art and social protest. According to Professor Denise Bostdorff, chair of the communication studies department, there are plans for Hester to teach a section of Public Speaking in the fall and two 200-level courses in the spring, most likely on race and gender.
Bostdorff, who is also the chair of the Faculty Conference Committee with Trustees, was a signatory to the committee’s November open letter on faculty diversity published in the Voice. Reflecting on this letter, Bostdorff praised the hiring of the fellows but maintained that she would like more to be done to improve diversity.
“Wooster still has a long way to go to improve faculty-staff diversity and to create an environment in which diversity can thrive,” Bostdorff said, “But the hiring of the fellows and the generous gift that made their hiring possible is a step in the right direction.”
All of the fellowships except for Moreno’s last for one year, but will be renewable. According to Newton, the College hopes to keep the same number of fellows in future years if funding is available.