The Institute for the Arts and Humanities (IAH) has tapped the expertise and leadership of its former fellows and leaders across campus for its various faculty programs and initiatives for the 2023-2024 academic year.
The Institute’s faculty programs are participatory offerings that provide support, networking and community to faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. The programs are designed to support them throughout their career and leadership journeys, an extension of the Institute’s drive of empowering and building community among faculty.
The new program leaders are:
- Chairs Leadership Program director: Adam Versényi, professor of dramatic art
- New Faculty Program interim director: Todd Ramón Ochoa, associate professor of religious studies
- Retired Faculty Program co-facilitators: Jan Bardsley, professor emerita of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, and Ray Dooley, professor emeritus of dramatic art
Nadia Yaqub, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, returns for a second year as interim program director for the Associate Professor Program. Renée Alexander Craft, professor in the department of communication and curriculum in global studies, was appointed the chair of the Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group last spring.
“The IAH has always been one of my homes on campus,” said Versényi, who was a Barden Fellow in 1993 and an Academic Leadership Fellow in 2004. As chair of the department of dramatic art for eight years, he is also very familiar with the Chairs Leadership Program. “Having participated in the program not once but three times, I’m excited to take on the role of director to offer my knowledge and experience to new chairs and, in some measure, be able to give back for what the IAH has done for me.”
In addition to his role at the IAH, Versényi is also the dramaturg for PlayMakers Repertory Company. As Chairs Leadership Program director, he facilitates monthly dinners with new and reappointed department chairs in the College. Similar to the IAH’s Academic Leadership Program, the meals are an opportunity for chairs to share ideas and best practices and discuss a chair’s role in mentoring and developing faculty in their departments.
Like Versényi, Yaqub has received multiple fellowships from the Institute. She was a Schwab Fellow in 2004 and a McGowan Fellow in 2016. She sees serving as the interim director as a mentoring opportunity. “This allows me a chance to impart what I have learned from nearly 25 years at Carolina to my colleagues,” she said.
For the Associated Professor Program, Yaqub has organized social activities for new associate professors and shared IAH workshops geared to faculty applying for fellowships.
This is not the first time Ochoa (FFP ’13) has led the New Faculty Program. In 2013, he served as associate director for the fledging program under then-IAH director John McGowan. The program, which first launched with microtalks by new faculty, now offers professional development opportunities such as workshops and community-building activities to introduce faculty to the campus and surrounding area.
“The New Faculty Program exists for the purpose of connecting new faculty to one another and to their established colleagues at UNC,” said Ochoa. “The program seeks to accomplish in two semesters what might otherwise take years, and that is to kickstart relationships that might become collaborations and even lasting friendships. Our goal is pure IAH—to serve faculty such that their life at UNC is as fulfilling as possible.”
Bardsley (FFP ’98, ’04, ’15) and Dooley enjoyed the conversations when they were participants in the Retired Faculty Program in 2022. Not only did they appreciate the collegiality of the weekly discussions, but they also noted it was also an opportunity to make friends and trade tips on retirement life in Chapel Hill.
As professors emeriti, Bardsley and Dooley are excited to welcome retired faculty in Hyde Hall in the spring semester. “Going to campus weekly, sharing the energy of all the students and our colleagues renews our connections with life at Carolina,” they said.
Since the 2022-2023 academic year, the Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group has been led by a five-member steering committee to better respond to the needs of the people in that group. Alexander Craft, a Taylor/Digital Innovation Lab Faculty Fellow in 2013, recently welcomed participants in a reception to mark the start of the year.
“The Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group serves as a vital mechanism for underrepresented faculty to practice community, to affirm and amplify the value of our research and labor and to hold space for the kinds of conversations and collective actions that help the University embody its mission and values,” she said. “What better place for it to be housed and supported than the IAH.”
In addition to her work with the Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group, Alexander Craft is the director of outreach and public engagement in the communication department and co-director of SLATE (Student Learning to Advance Truth and Equity) in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Research in Black Culture and History.
The Institute’s faculty programs are designed to support faculty at every stage of their careers at Carolina: from their first semester through the tenure process and into retirement. Participation in the programs and Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group is voluntary, and interested faculty may contact IAH staff or the program leaders for more information.
The faculty programs complement the IAH’s long-standing fellowship programs. The Faculty Fellowship Program, directed by Romance studies professor Oswaldo Estrada, advances and support arts and humanities research through semester-long residencies. The Tyson Academic Leadership Program prepares and supports current and emerging academic leaders across the University and is led by psychology and neuroscience professor of the practice and associate dean for evaluation and assessment Viji Sathy.
By Kristen Chavez, Institute for the Arts and Humanities