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Working Relationships

Endowed chairs fuel scholarship, teaching

Fourteen Dartmouth faculty members were recently honored with endowed professorships, recognizing their groundbreaking contributions as scholars. Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences, says that endowed chairs "enrich the life of our campus through teaching, mentoring, academic leadership, and development of programs and curriculum at the cutting edge of knowledge." Here is a closer look at the work of two of the College's newly appointed holders of endowed chairs.

John Carey with students
John Carey (center) with the government department's honors research seminar, from left: Kate Eklin '08 (Carey's thesis advisee), Morgan Cohen '08, Carlos Mejia '08, Tyler Frisbee '08, Peter Bonanno '08, and Joshua Kernoff '08. Carey was recently appointed to the John Wentworth Professorship in the Social Sciences. (photo by TIlman Dette '10)
Back to basics

John Carey, professor of government, was appointed to the John Wentworth Professorship in the Social Sciences. Established by an anonymous donor in 1995, the chair recognizes a faculty member whose teaching significantly contributes to his or her field. That rubric makes perfect sense at Dartmouth; Carey points to the introductory comparative politics course he teaches. For the students, he notes, it's often a first opportunity to think systematically about how politics works in a variety of countries around the world. For Carey, the return to fundamentals each time the course is taught forces him "to articulate, justify even, the nature of our broader curriculum. That exercise can be invigorating for my research. As a scholar, there is a tendency to specialize, but with that comes a danger of slicing the same area into finer and finer sections. Teaching an introductory course can be an antidote for that."

Carey's next research project is a study of taxation and its importance to representative government. "We're familiar with 'no taxation without representation'; it's our history," he says. His study explores the inverse: governments without broadly enforced taxation are rarely representative ones. A resource-rich country might not need to be responsive to its citizens; at the other end of spectrum, a country with no wealth to tax lacks an important means of engaging citizens in government. "It's a poverty trap, and yet some countries manage to escape. I want to understand what conditions allow that and what conditions impede it," he says. "Kate Eklin '08, my thesis advisee this year, is studying the efficacy of antipoverty programs in Latin America. I'm looking at how countries raise money; she's studying how it's spent. Her research is unquestionably enriching the dimensions of my own project."

Carey, who co-directs the Department of Government's honors programs, reports that the student researchers he and his colleagues advise "are creating phenomenal work, some of it publishable. At their thesis presentations each spring, the audience is filled with students' families, friends, classmates, teammates—as a Dartmouth faculty member, it's a great moment to be part of."

Lynn Higgins with students
From left: Lynn Higgins, the Israel Evans Professor in Oratory and Belles Lettres; Louisa Thompson '08; and Aulden Kaye '09. Thompson and Kaye are French majors who took Higgins's course, Women Filmmakers in the French Tradition, last spring. (photo by TIlman Dette '10)
Historic chair, timely focus

Professor of French Lynn Higgins holds one of Dartmouth's oldest named professorships, the Israel Evans Professorship in Oratory and Belles Lettres, which has its origins in a bequest from Israel Evans, Class of 1792. But a title with a decidedly old-fashioned name is not an awkward fit for a 21st-century scholar. "Belles lettres," Higgins remarks, "is what we would call humanities"; a fine match for a scholar of French culture, and of French film in particular.

For Higgins, film serves as a topic of interest in itself and as a deeply appropriate metaphor for her interests in point of view and cultural difference. "In film, 'point of view' is literal," she observes; "the camera is placed somewhere specific." Higgins is finishing a study of filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, whose work, she finds, is always negotiating the question, "What does it mean to be French?" Believing that "where I am standing is part of what I know," Higgins is an advocate for—and repeated leader of—Dartmouth's study abroad programs and appreciates their power to give students a global perspective. "The bigger my context, the more potential meaning," she says. Research funds accompanying the chair, Higgins notes, support travel to France for scholarly meetings and the study of popular culture. "Friends laugh when I go to see bad films," she says. "In fact, it's just about understanding the whole context—catching up with the average films that don't get distributed here, reading the books that aren't exported.

"Dartmouth is one of the top schools through which to gain an international experience," Higgins says. "One value of having such a high percentage of students studying language and culture abroad is that it raises the level of competence back here on campus." As a result, the French and Italian department, which she currently chairs, "is able to offer a large number of courses on challenging topics—literary theory for example—that are taught in French. That generally higher level of achievement also benefits students who don't go abroad. As a scholar," she continues, "it's a privilege to engage at this intellectual level, speaking French, with undergraduates. These are individuals with a range of careers in front of them, as future diplomats, attorneys, physicians, and artists. The richness and diversity of my students' futures is inspiring."

New appointments to endowed chairs

Colin Calloway
Department of History and the
Program in Native American Studies
The Samson Occom Professorship

John Carey
Department of Government
The John Wentworth Professorship in the Social Sciences

Mona Domosh
Department of Geography and the
Program in Women's and Gender Studies
The Joan P. and Edward J. Foley, Jr. 1933 Professorship

Hany Farid
Department of Computer Science
The David T. McLaughlin Distinguished Professorship

Carol Folt
Department of Biological Sciences
The Dartmouth Professorship of Biological Sciences

Andrew Friedland
Program in Environmental Studies
The Richard and Jane Pearl Professorship in Environmental Studies

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Department of English
The Kathe Tappe Vernon Professorship in Biography

James Haxby
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
The Evans Family Distinguished Professorship at Dartmouth College

Lynn Higgins
Department of French and Italian and the
Program in Comparative Literature
The Israel Evans Professorship in Oratory and Belles Lettres

Richard Howarth
Program in Environmental Studies
The Pat and John Rosenwald Professorship

Theodore Levin
Department of Music and the
Program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
The Parents' Distinguished Research Professorship in the Humanities

Kathleen McGarry
Department of Economics
The Joel Z. and Susan Hyatt Professorship

Jonathan Skinner
Department of Economics
The John Sloan Dickey Third Century Professorship in the Social Sciences

Douglas Staiger
Department of Economics
The John French Professorship in Economics

By KELLY SEAMAN

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Last Updated: 5/30/08