Dean of Faculty Report, February 2009

At every monthly faculty meeting during the school year, the Dean of Faculty presents brief overviews of recent publications and other achievements by the Mount Holyoke faculty. Here are excerpts from the February 2009 report of Donal O'Shea, Dean of Faculty.

Apologies in advance for the unseemly haste, and sketchiness, of what follows.

Center for Environment

I am delighted to announce that Beth Hooker, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, has agreed to take on the role of interim director of the Center for the Environment this semester. Please join me in thanking her for her willingness to serve in this way. We are currently conducting a national search for a director to take up duties July 1, 2009. The ad was posted in January, and I have begun the process of assembling a search committee. If you would be interested in serving as director, please consult the ad and apply. If you would be willing to serve on the committee, please let me know – there are still a couple of unfilled slots.


Thanks to all who attended the Ad Hoc Committee faculty retreat on January 26 and the science faculty retreat on January 21. Reports from both will be forthcoming.


Requests for tenure-track and long-term lecturer lines were due at the Academic Policy Committee by February 13. At this time, I still don’t know enough about the budget to say whether we will be able to approve any new searches. Even if we have no positions, the APC would be willing to comment on proposals and to give departments and programs feedback. Institutionally, it is important for the APC to know the major pressure points on the curriculum, and to have a sense of the intellectual landscape as seen from the point of view of departments and programs. Although I can’t promise anything and the budget looks grim, I’d love to be able to do some searches--even if only one or two. This is a great time to hire--there are some spectacular individuals in this year's pools and I suspect the same will true next year.


Please see the letter I distributed last month that provides a template for Nexus programs. It is on the Dean of Faculty Web site.


I signed us up for two surveys (Coache and Sloan). I intend to beg you to fill them out. I will explain why I think they are worth your time.

Senior Symposium

The senior symposium is Friday, April 17. Please mark your calendars.


We’ve had lots of grants. Darby Dyar, associate professor and chair of astronomy, had two: $94,000 from the National Science Foundation for her project “Scaffolding Effective Practice for Use of Animations in Teaching Mineralogy and Physical Geology” and another from NASA for $719,000 for her four-year project “Technique Development for Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: Calibration, Classification, and Light Element Analysis.”
Lilian Hsu, Elizabeth Page Greenawalt Professor of Biochemistry, received $465,000 from the NSF for her three-year project “Mechanism of Promoter Escape by E. coli RNA Polymerase.”
Bettina Bergmann, Helene Phillips Herzig ’49 Professor of Art History, has received a grant from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to work on creating a digital image of a Roman room with frescoes that can be blown up.
Lynn Morgan, Mary E. Woolley Professor of Anthropology, has received a fellowship from the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.
Kathy Aidala, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics, received $45,000 from Research Corporation for her proposal “Investigation and Control of Magnetic Nanorings using a Scanning Probe Microscope.”
Marianne Doezema, director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and her museum colleagues received $500,000 from the Mellon Foundation to fund their proposal to strengthen the academic role of the museum’s collection and programs.


An article by Associate Professor and chair of Chemistry Wei Chen and her students (that appeared in the most prestigious journal in Physical Chemistry) is in the top ten (#6) on the list of “most read” articles.
Bettina Bergmann’s catalog for the Pompeii exhibition in the National Gallery of Art is amazing. It appears on a White House coffee table in a publicity photo of Laura Bush and Michelle Obama chatting together.
Jane Crosthwaite, Professor and chair of Religion, is a principal speaker at a high-level conference at Wake Forest entitled “Scandalous Women and Religious Traditions.” Her book with Christian Goodwillie on Shaker hymns will be appearing shortly with UMass Press. Stay tuned.
See the interviews with Joe Ellis, Professor of History on the Ford Foundation, in the Washington Post.

Great articles

Lauret Savoy, professor of environmental studies, on the inauguration and the tangled relation of Washington, D.C. and the slave trade.
Robert Shilkret, Norma Cutts DaFoe Professor of Psychology (with Galina Markova and Djalev Liubomir), “Parents’ Attachment Styles, Mental Representations, and Institutionalization of Children in Bulgaria” (in Infant Mental Health Journal 29:6 (2008) 555-569).


Mellon Professor of English Chris Benfey, whose book American Audacity has just appeared, has another which he edited entitled Lafcadio Hearn: American Writings (New York, Library of America, 2009). Visiting assistant professor of film studies Heath Atchley, Encountering the Secular: Philosophical Endeavors in Religion and Culture. (U. Va. Press, 2009). English professor Corinne Demas, Always in Trouble (New York: Scholastic Press, 2009).