Bowdoin welcomes 48 new faculty members this year, several of them right out of Ph.D. programs.
“We continue to be very ambitious in our hiring,” wrote Cristle Collins Judd, the dean for academic affairs, in an email to the Orient. “We have been able to add some wonderful new faculty to the College, who we believe have enormous potential as scholars and teachers, and will complement the strengths of our existing faculty.”
Ten tenure-track assistant professors, each entering a different department, joined the faculty this fall, along with 19 visiting appointees covering for professors on sabbaticals, and eight adjunct instructors filling various roles on campus.
In the government department, new appointments include one fully tenured professor, Andy Rudalevige, who arrived from Dickinson College, where he worked for 12 years. The Coastal Studies Center welcomed Artist-in-Residence Barbara Putnam, who is currently exploring the Arctic Circle and will return to Bowdoin in October.
Additionally, the College hired seven Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows in a handful of departments, as well as two Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellows in Art History and Gender and Women’s Studies.
“This college has done an exemplary job at making new faculty feel welcome,” said Marc Scarcelli, a new visiting professor of government. “They’ve been very inclusive, very supportive, very welcoming and it has been very much to the credit of this college that they clearly go to great lengths to make new faculty feel welcome and supported.”
The College’s formal process of new-faculty orientation, including a reception hosted by President Barry Mills, impressed Scarcelli, who has previously taught at Ohio University and at the University of California, Davis, where he earned his Ph.D.
Casey Meehan, an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Education, agreed with Scarcelli, commending the education department’s support as well as his students’ hospitality.
“The students here are incredibly warm and welcoming,” Meehan said. “They are just so open to trying different discussion techniques in class. They’re also always willing to give feedback, which is great. It helps me become a better teacher.”
Meehan, a former high school teacher in Wisconsin, is one of several postdoctoral fellows who are new to teaching at a small liberal arts school. The environment at Bowdoin is vastly different from that of large universities, where most of the fellows received their Ph.D.s.
“Postdoctoral fellows now form an important part of our faculty,” wrote Judd, “allowing the College to offer new classes in emerging fields or new sub-disciplines, as well as creating important connections to graduate programs and advisors for many of our students contemplating graduate study.”
The departments hosting postdoctoral fellows said they are grateful for the specialized skills and unique perspectives that younger educators bring to the classroom.
“All the regular faculty is very excited about the Mellon Postdoc program because it’s a way to get these young scholars in the college environment,” said Professor Raymond Miller, the chair of the Russian department. “They’re full of ideas. They’re full of energy.”
The Russian department welcomed several postdoctoral fellows this year, including Kristina Toland, who spent last year teaching Russian literature and culture at the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. Toland has a visual arts background, including painting training in Moscow and a masters in art history from The Ohio State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Slavic Language from Northwestern University.
“We’re talking about her introducing a course in Russian theater next semester, which would involve not just the texts but also acting technique and the visual aspect of theater,” said Miller. “Her perspective as an artist on literature is going to be much different. She brings a dimension to the department that we haven’t had before.”
The College is already busy searching for ten tenure-track professors for the next academic year. These professors will officially join Bowdoin on July 1, 2013, giving them time to acclimate to the school and appreciate the New England summer.
New instructors like Scarcelli and Toland feel comfortable at Bowdoin now, but as Scarcelli pointed out, he has to experience winter weather before he can really judge how he fits in at the College.
“I’ve lived in many different parts of the country, but never here in Maine before,” he said. “It’s been absolutely wonderful, although check back with me in February and we’ll see how I feel then.”