May 10, 2010

KSAS scores big with ACLS New Faculty Fellows program

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and four of its recent graduates are benefiting from a new initiative addressing the tough job market facing today’s young PhDs.

The American Council of Learned Societies’ New Faculty Fellows program is providing two-year positions, with annual stipends of $50,000, to 50 recently minted doctors of the humanities and humanistic social sciences; four of the fellows earned their doctorates from the Krieger School, and two additional fellows with degrees from other institutions will be appointed to departments in the Krieger School this fall.

Thanks to the program, Mary Ashburn Miller, who defended her doctoral thesis in history in July 2008, will remain at Reed College, where she has been a visiting assistant professor of history since earning her degree. Alison Calhoun, who earned both her bachelor’s and doctorate in French at Johns Hopkins, in 2002 and 2008, is headed to the Department of French and Italian at Indiana University, Bloomington, after a year as a visiting assistant professor of French at Pomona College. She’ll join two professors who are also Johns Hopkins alumni.

Molly Warnock, who earned a joint PhD in intellectual history and art history through both the Humanities Center and the History of Art Department in 2008, has been appointed to the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago, after spending two years as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. And Jacquelyn Williamson, who in November 2008 defended her doctoral thesis in Egyptology through the Department of Near Eastern Studies, will be appointed to the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, after wrapping up a two-year archaeological field project in Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt, where she has been an assistant field director with the American Research Center.

Joining the Krieger School’s History of Art faculty will be Christopher Lakey, who earned his doctorate at Berkeley. The Department of English will appoint Ashley Marshall, who earned her doctorate at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Designed to address scholars’ employment challenges while also supporting teaching at universities and colleges, the American Council of Learned Societies’ New Faculty Fellows program commits participants to teaching three semester-length courses each year in exchange for their $50,000 stipend, a $5,000 annual research and travel allowance, health insurance and a $1,500 one-time moving allowance. The program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Greg Ball, dean of research and graduate education in the Krieger School and a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, served as the university’s liaison for the new faculty fellows program.

In the inaugural year, nominees were limited to graduates of the 60 U.S. members of the Association of American Universities and had to have earned their degrees between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. The fellows were selected based on a rigorous review process managed by the ACLS; reviewers were recruited from AAU member universities.

AAU institutions, along with select undergraduate colleges, were then allowed to recruit fellows and extend offers. The fellows either visited campuses or were interviewed virtually via Skype to weigh the pros and cons of the choices before them.

The Krieger School was allowed to nominate only 10 of its recent graduates, and to have secured positions for four of them is an outstanding achievement, Ball said.

“I am delighted that our success rate in the ACLS fellows’ competition was so high. Only one other university, with five fellows selected from more nominees than Hopkins was allowed, surpassed us,” Ball said. “It is another indication of the excellence of our programs in the humanities. I am also pleased that we were able to attract two outstanding scholars who will contribute to our teaching and scholarly activities in the coming two years.”

The Johns Hopkins–educated faculty fellows said that they are grateful for the opportunities the program offers, not just for the paycheck and stability but for the chance to continue pursuing their research.
“This was a difficult competition because not only were there only 50 [fellows] selected out of 800 [nominees], there was also an initial selection process by each candidate’s home institution,” said Calhoun, whose doctoral adviser, Michel Jeanneret, alerted her to the program. “I was slightly more nervous about the JHU selection than the actual competition. Despite a tough market, I knew it meant two years of job security in a meaningful and fulfilling position in my field, [and] a promising way to grow in one’s teaching and publishing while waiting for more jobs to present themselves.”

For Miller, whose book, A Natural History of Revolution, is due to be published next year by Cornell University Press, the fellowship will provide her with resources to pursue her next research project, which she’ll begin with a trip to Paris this summer. “Through the interview process, the fellowship has given me the opportunity to speak with some of the most highly respected scholars in my field and to get feedback on my work from scholars all over the country. Most importantly, however, it has given me an opportunity to continue doing what I have come to love: research and teaching as a historian.”