Seven Mount Holyoke faculty members retire

Seven long-serving members of the Mount Holyoke faculty have retired.

As classes start this fall, seven longtime members of the academic community will no longer be in the classroom. Retiring this past academic year were: Daniel Czitrom, professor emeritus of history on the Ford Foundation; Rose and Charles Flachs, professors emeriti of dance; Nancy Holden-Avard, senior lecturer emeritus in French; Stephen Jones, professor emeritus of Russian and Eurasian studies; Girma Kebbede, professor emeritus of geography; and Larry Schipull, professor emeritus of music.

“Although I did not have the chance to work alongside any of these long-serving members of our community,” said Lisa Sullivan, Mount Holyoke’s new provost and dean of faculty, “it’s clear to me as I review their careers here that they have contributed mightily to the reputation and excellence of this institution. They have set a high standard for all of us to follow in the years ahead.”

Daniel Czitrom, professor emeritus of history on the Ford Foundation, focused his teaching on American cultural and political history. Through his research and writing, he has reached wide audiences with acclaimed studies focusing on aspects of the history of New York City and the evolution of media. He wrote “New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era” and he was the co-author of “Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn of the Century New York.” His 1982 book, “Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan,” investigated the evolution of media in the U.S. and its effect on society. He is co-author of “Out of Many: A History of the American People,” a bestselling U.S. history college textbook, and has been active in countering efforts made by conservatives to “revise” the teaching of American history.

His commitment to bringing history to wider audiences has also come in the form of involvement in numerous PBS documentaries and “Copper,” a BBC America dramatic series about Civil War–era New York City. He has also co-authored the historical plays “Triangle” and “Red Bessie,” which are tied to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the rise of American radicalism. In 2012 Czitrom was elected to the Society of American Historians. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. He started at Mount Holyoke in 1981 and was a 2008 recipient of the College’s Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.

For the past 27 years, Charles and Rose Marie Flachs, professors emeriti of dance, exerted a profound influence on dance at Mount Holyoke, choreographing and staging ballet and contemporary works on a regular basis for both the Department of Dance and the Five College Dance Department. A main focus of the creative work they did with generations of students was on exploring the relationship between dance and music and expressing underlying themes or issues, all while examining ballet pedagogy with an eye toward influencing current trends in ballet.

From the time the husband-and-wife team arrived at Mount Holyoke, their guesting careers also thrived. The Flachses taught and performed at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow, Pioneer Valley Ballet, Amherst Ballet, Columbia College, University of Georgia at Athens and University of Wisconsin, Madison. They also taught for the Southeast Regional Ballet Festival and the American College Dance Festival. As choreographers they have created more than 20 ballets and staged excerpts from many of the classics.

Prior to teaching at Mount Holyoke, Rose danced professionally with the Nashville Ballet, Ballet West and the Cincinnati Ballet. She performed principal roles in the ballets “Giselle,” “Swan Lake,” “Cinderella,” “Scotch Symphony,” “Square Dance” and many more throughout her long career. She also had the honor of performing ballets created by many renowned choreographers including Paul Taylor, Val Caniparoli, Donald Saddler, John Butler and Agnes DeMille. She trained at the New York School of Ballet and the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet.

Before focusing on teaching and scholarly activities, Charles performed professionally with several ballet companies, including the Nashville Ballet, the Cincinnati Ballet and Ballet West of Salt Lake City. He performed principal roles in the ballets “Giselle,” “Swan Lake,” “Cinderella,” “Scotch Symphony,” “Square Dance” and many more throughout his long career.

Both are founding members of the Council of Organized Researchers of Pedagogical Studies de Ballet International, Inc., an organization dedicated to the development, exploration and advancement of ballet in higher education. Both have also been involved in writing about dance for numerous publications and developing instructional materials. In 2005 the Flachses founded the Massachusetts Academy of the Ballet, a private ballet training studio, which they continue to co-direct.

Over her 39 years at Mount Holyoke, senior lecturer emeritus in French Nancy Holden-Avard taught many levels of French but specialized in helping beginners develop a strong foundation in the language and culture, which included learning about music, art, food and literature. She also supervised French language assistants, helped establish the French floor,and mentored the French Club. Among many professional interests, she enjoyed exploring pedagogical innovation through technology. Instrumental in setting up Mount Holyoke’s first computer language lab, she created two programs for in-house use and more recently authored a digital dictation program with auditory and written feedback to sensitize students to French sound-spelling connections. President of the American Association of Teachers of French, Western MA chapter, from 1986–1990, Holden-Avard continued to serve the organization throughout her career and presented at local and national language conferences.

Holden-Avard, author of the textbook “Le Français sans peur,” also worked with the developers of the acclaimed “French in Action” immersion method. A French impressionism enthusiast, she translated selections of Auguste Renoir’s “Grammar of Art” manuscript for use in a 1998 work by art historian Robert Herbert. As co-founder and coordinator of the Foreign Language Writing Assistance Program, Holden–Avard fostered in students a love of language, nuance and carefully crafted expression. In 2015 the French government recognized Holden-Avard’s dedication to promoting French language and culture, naming her a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques — an esteemed distinction instituted by Napoléon Bonaparte.

Professor emeritus of Russian and Eurasian studies Stephen Jones joined the Mount Holyoke College faculty in 1989. His departure sends him to Harvard University where he will be initiating and leading a new program in Georgian studies at the university’s Davis Center. Jones’ expertise on post-communist societies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has made him an important resource for the U.S. Department of State, U.S. ambassadors to Georgia and top media outlets.

Jones taught Nationalism: East and West, Post-Soviet Foreign Policy and The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire. He has published widely — dozens of articles, chapters and books, both in Georgian and English — including titles such as “Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917” and his latest co-authored work, “Georgia’s Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Challenges for a Small State.” He spent a significant part of his career in Georgia in association with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and other entities, working on issues from the plight of refugees to the preservation of archival materials in Georgian libraries. A foreign member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, he has received grants, fellowships and awards from Harvard, London and Oxford universities, as well as from IREX, Fulbright, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Kennan Institute and the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton. He has received honorary doctorates from Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University in Georgia. He was also a 2007 recipient of the College’s Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.

During his 40 years at Mount Holyoke, Girma Kebbede, professor emeritus of geography, focused his teaching and research on a spectrum of issues in Africa, including the socioeconomic and political causes and consequences of political conflicts, interrelations between politics and development and the human dimensions of environmental change. His wide-ranging scholarly writing includes a number of books. Among them are “The State and Development in Ethiopia” and “Sudan’s Predicaments: Civil War, Displacement and Ecological Degradation.” Published in 2017, his most recent book, “Environment and Society in Ethiopia,” deals with the degradation of Ethiopia’s environment and natural resource base.

Kebbede also held a research fellowship at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University and visiting positions at Saint Anselm College, the University of Khartoum and Addis Ababa University. He has twice won Fulbright U.S. Scholar grants to travel to Ethiopia. He attended Addis Ababa University and Syracuse University. Kebbede taught several interdisciplinary courses. His Political Geography was a required course for international relations majors and his intermediate-level courses — such as Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and The African Environments — along with his upper-level Third World Development seminar course served the environmental studies major and other cognate disciplines. In addition to his research and teaching, Kebbede is a member of the International Geographical Union Commission on Hazards and Risks. In 1985 he won a National Endowment for the Humanities award, and he was also a 2019 recipient of the College’s Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.

Professor emeritus of music Larry Schipull — an organist, harpsichordist and fortepianist — taught Basic Musicianship, Music Theory, History of Western Music and harpsichord and organ at Mount Holyoke for 33 years. Before his appointment as Mount Holyoke College organist and professor, he was on the faculty at the University of Hong Kong, where he was active as a recitalist and accompanist, with solo appearances in the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the City Hall Silver Jubilee celebrations.

A frequent collaborative performer, Schipull and Mount Holyoke colleague Linda Laderach released a CD recording titled “Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Fortepiano.” Schipull, Laderach, Robert Eisenstein, Adrianne Greenbaum, Cheryl Cobb and Ng Tian Hui performed together regularly as the Mount Holyoke Faculty Baroque Ensemble. Schipull has also performed as a soloist and chamber musician in North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. He has appeared as organ recitalist at Wesleyan, Yale and Drake Universities and as a pianist/lecturer at Yale University. He is the recipient of the Premier prix à l’unanimité, École nationale de musique, Rueil-Malmaison, France. He was also the national winner in organ for the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Competition and won first prize in the Ottumwa National Organ Competition.

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