Above: Six new Mellon Faculty Fellows joined ACM campuses this fall. Clockwise from top left: Lillian Brown, Emmanuel Cudjoe, Allan Farrell, Mariana Reyes, Marcy Quiason, and Gana Ndiaye.
Nine-year initiative funded appointments of new faculty who have enhanced diversity on the ACM campuses.
For Mariana Reyes, the small liberal arts campus of St. Olaf College, where she began as assistant professor of Spanish in August, was unlike anywhere she’d studied or worked. Born in Mexico, where she studied literature in college, Reyes earned master’s and PhD degrees in Spanish from two large universities: University of Texas at El Paso and University of Maryland, College Park, respectively.
Reyes, whose research focuses on border representations and how migrants in the Americas create communities, is one of six new Mellon Faculty Fellows to start teaching at ACM colleges this fall. While the residential liberal arts environment may be new to her, she says it fits her interests well.
“I knew that it was an environment where I could incorporate something that I’m really into, which is creating community,” Reyes said. “I saw during the hiring process that the department was also looking to create a good community, not just amongst them, but also for Latinx students, which is something that I’m very interested in.”
Mellon Faculty Fellowships offer tenure-track appointments at one of the ACM colleges to new PhD or terminal master’s degree graduates whose backgrounds and life experiences enhance diversity on the campuses. There have been 33 Faculty Fellow appointments in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, or the arts over the nine years of the grant.
The Mellon Faculty Fellowships, part of the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program for a Diverse Professoriate, aim to enhance the diversity of new faculty who teach at liberal arts colleges while also enhancing the careers of the Fellows and teaching programs of the colleges.
I saw during the hiring process that the department was also looking to create a good community, not just amongst them, but also for Latinx students, which is something that I’m very interested in.”
— Mariana Reyes, Assistant Professor of Spanish, St. Olaf College
The fellowships provide the colleges funding for two years of each fellow’s salary and benefits. Fellows also receive a reduced teaching load, mentoring by a more senior ACM professor, targeted professional development, and opportunities to network with other faculty and undergraduate Fellows at ACM member colleges.
“Teaching a full load with all new courses at a new institution is super overwhelming. Having that reduced in half allowed me to be more intentional. It also gave me more time to start my research,” said Jessica Benson, assistant professor of psychology at St. Olaf, who studies interventions focused on reducing prejudice and internalized oppression.
The strength of the network has kept Benson, a 2018 Fellow, and others engaged beyond their initial two-year Fellowship.
“It’s really nice to connect with people every year or six months,” Benson said. “It provides an unscripted environment where we can discuss how we feel and common problems that our institutions face. And, not only that, but also how we could potentially help, not only with our presence but in other ways.”
The ACM Faculty Fellows have enriched our students’ experiences through their teaching, scholarship, and dedication to the inclusive liberal arts. Thank you to the Fellows, our campus partners, and the Mellon Foundation for their important support in making this program a transformative success.”
—Sonya Malunda, President of ACM
At a recent such retreat that ACM organized in Chicago, 10 new and returning Fellows convened for meals, dedicated writing time, and a series of roundtables that explored such topics as transitioning from graduate student to full-time professor, managing availability and time, finding community in new environments, and navigating “invisible labor”—work that supports students and institutions but isn’t part of tenure review.
Reyes appreciated that the retreat also included unstructured time, something that academics don’t often have. “They didn’t think that support looks the same for everyone,” she said. “They let you choose what you needed at that moment.”
Reyes used part of that time to take a walk and call a friend. “I remember telling her that this program really gives me hope in academia and that there should be more programs like this,” she said.
“Programs like the Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows program enhance teaching and learning on campuses like ours by diversifying the perspectives that faculty and students share in the classroom,” said Brian Williams, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, ACM. “We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for supporting this program and look forward to our continued work with them and with others to create more inclusive institutional cultures at ACM colleges.”
“Since 2016, the ACM Faculty Fellows have enriched our students’ experiences through their teaching, scholarship, and dedication to the inclusive liberal arts,” added Sonya Malunda, President of ACM. “Thank you to the Fellows, our campus partners, and the Mellon Foundation for their important support in making this program a transformative success.”
Meet the 2022 Mellon Faculty Fellows
Assistant Professor of Theater, Ripon College
MFA, Theater, Ohio State University
BA, Theater, University of Northern Colorado
Research: Devising, Solo Performance, Applied Theatre, Theatre of Social Change, Mindfulness
Teaching: History of Religion in the Americas, Black Church Studies, the African American intellectual tradition, Religion in Sierra Leone, Africana Religions, and Religion and Capitalism in the Atlantic World
Instructor/Assistant Professor of Dance, St. Olaf College
PhD (ABD), Dance Studies, Boyer School of Music and Dance, Temple University
MA, Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage, Choreomundus International Master’s Degree, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Clermont Ferrand, University of Szeged, Roehampton University
MA, African Studies, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana
BFA, Theatre Arts and Dance, School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana
Research: Afrocentricity/Afrocentric Theory, with a focus on African dance forms/systems as agency of post-colonial theory; Dance as Intangible Cultural Heritage, Neo-traditional dance performance analysis, Dance in Post-Colonial Politics of West Africa, Dance Anthropology, Ethnochoreology, Dance Phenomenology, Dance History, Dance Ethnography
Teaching: Introduction to African Diasporic Dance, Neo- Traditional West African dance 1 and 2, Introduction to African Studies, Introduction to Dance, Music for Dance, Body Politic, Embodying Pluralism, West African dance Technique, Traditional Singing and Drumming in West-Africa, Anthropology of Movements, African Womanism/ Empowerment
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Beloit College
PhD, Sociology, Rice University
MA, Sociology, Rice University
BA, Sociology and Political Science, Gonzaga University
Research: Race and Ethnicity, Racial Ambiguity, Racism and Racial Inequality, Social Psychology, Multiracial experiences, Multiracial Identity Development, Mixed Methods Research, Mental and Physical Health disparities
Teaching: Introduction to Sociology, Quantitative and Qualitative Research methods, Multiracial Experiences and Identity, Immigration and Immigrant Experiences, Social Inequalities, Culture and Cultural Representation, Race and Ethnicity, Racism and Racial inequalities in the USA
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Beloit College
PhD, Sociocultural Anthropology, Boston University
MA, French Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MSc, Intercultural Mediation, KU Leuven
BA, English Studies, Mohamed I University
Research: Anthropology of ethics, anthropology of Islam, ꜤAjamī (enriched Arabic script) literary traditions of Muslim Africa, encounters between Islam and African Diaspora Religions in West Africa and Brazil, transnational migrations, race and ethnicity, visual anthropology
Teaching: Introduction to sociocultural anthropology, race and migration, popular culture in West Africa and Brazil, anthropology of Islam
Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, Lawrence University
PhD, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Kansas
MA, Political Science, University of Kansas
Research: Nongovernmental Organizations, Organizational studies, Postcolonial Theory, Neoliberal Globalization
Teaching: Queer theory, Global Feminisms, Asian and Asian-American studies, and Postcolonial Feminist Theories.
Assistant Professor of Spanish, St. Olaf College
PhD, Spanish, University of Maryland, College Park
MA, Spanish, University of Texas at El Paso
Research: Contemporary Mexican, Central American and Latinx literatures and cultures. Border and Migration studies. Religious studies. Gender studies. Digital Humanities.
Teaching: First-generation students, Spanish for heritage students, community organizing.