The Collegian
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

University welcomes new faculty

This year, 14 tenured and tenure-track professors joined the faculty at the University of Richmond, with two professors in the Robins School of Business, two in the T.C. Williams School of Law, nine in the School of Arts and Sciences and one professor in the School of Continuing Studies.

These numbers do not include the many visiting professors in each school, including the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

The process of bringing new faculty members to campus is a year-long one, said Provost Steve Allred. Recruitment is important and so the university dedicates a lot of time to it, with national recruitment conventions and meetings starting during the fall, he said.

It was at one of these conventions that Julietta Singh connected with Richmond. An assistant professor of English specializing in post-colonial studies, Singh, who had been at the University of Minnesota for her Ph.D., was chosen to go to the Modern Language Association conference in Philadelphia last year after responding to job listings, she said.

At this conference, Singh said, she had interviewed for different jobs at many schools, and after meeting people from Richmond at the conference, she was invited to campus before eventually being hired.

Suzanne Jones, head of the English department at Richmond, said that the department advertised jobs through the Modern Language Association, along with those of many other schools, and depending on the job received between 100 and 200 applications.

It is a similar process for other academic departments. Allred said job listings were posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as on Richmond's website. He said the university was striving to find applicants through networking with colleagues at different institutions as well.

"So the idea is to broadcast positions broadly, which means you get a couple of hundred applications," Allred said. "On the other hand it means you get a diverse talent pool from which to recruit and select faculty."

Allred also said that diversifying the faculty by adding more women and minorities was a goal of the search.

Laura Browder, a new professor of American Studies and English, who holds the position as the Tyler and Alice Haynes Professorship in American Studies and English, said she hoped to bring change to Richmond, including revitalizing the American Studies major. She enjoys the major because of the opportunities it affords for interdisciplinary collaboration, she said. With the classes she is teaching, Browder plans to incorporate work with the city of Richmond community, she said.

Browder, a tenured professor, said she had been drawn to Richmond through a writing group between Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, which she started many years ago with History and International Studies professor Carol Summers when Browder was still an English professor at VCU.

Her plans for community outreach will be included in a course she is co-teaching next semester with Patricia Herrera of the theater department on massive resistance in Richmond, which was a time period when public schools in the city refused to integrate. This class will involve students interviewing people in the community as part of their research, Browder said.

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Her interest in interdisciplinary work is also demonstrated through the classes Browder is teaching this semester: an English class on immigrant literature and an American Studies class on documenting the Iraq War. For the English class, students will be creating digital stories about immigrants on campus, and for the latter, watching documentaries and working with oral histories that Browder created while shooting a documentary this past summer about war deployment of mothers.

Similarly, Singh also hopes to bring something new to her department. Born in Canada, raised speaking French, with an Indian father and an Irish mother, Singh's interest are wide-reaching.

"I started by being interested in studying North American so-called 'minority writing,' ... and a lot of immigrant literature," she said, "so Diaspora literature, literature written by people who had been born elsewhere but immigrated to Canada or immigrated to the United States, and then this gradually transitioned into me being interested in literatures written or produced elsewhere."

Singh said that because of the nature of the English language, most English departments were focused on North American and British writings, "but I'm bringing a sort of more global, international perspective to the English department, so studying literatures that are often written in English, but are written from places very far away, from different cultural, religious and philosophical backgrounds."

Jones said that the English department had been missing areas of study in Indian and African literature and global feminism, and that Singh brought a broad, international perspective.

About Browder, Jones said that "she crosses disciplines in an interesting way. American studies are a good fit for her, because she's doing it from a historical, sociological perspective."

Allred emphasized all the new faculty members' impressive academic backgrounds as well as their commitment to teaching. He said that the professors Richmond was looking for needed to have a passion for teaching, in addition to doing research.

"What we're looking for is a teacher-scholar," Allred said. "Teaching's really important here. When we do recruitment, part of that message has to be from the beginning that we're highly focused on undergraduate teaching here."

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Hyman at elizabeth.hyman@richmond.edu

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