Seven new professors were approved for tenure-track positions at the University on July 1. Those promoted were Professor of Philosophy Sanford Shieh, Associate Professor of French Stéphanie Ponsavady, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies Robert T. Conn, Associate Professor of Mathematics Ilesanmi Adeboye, Associate Professor of Government Logan Dancey, and Associate Professor of Astronomy Meredith Hughes. The Argus spoke with a few of the chosen professors about what drew them to the University.
Adeboye is currently conducting research this semester, but during the spring, he will teach MATH 120: “Elements of Calculus, Part II” and MATH 516: “Analysis II.” Adeboye emphasized that the ability both to teach and to conduct research is something he appreciates about the University.
“Wesleyan offers something unique in that most schools would feature teaching or research but often there is a decided lane between the two,” Adeboye said. “Teachers can go teach and continue a research career. It is one of the many attractions [of Wesleyan].”
Next semester, Dancey will be teaching GOVT 215: “Congressional Policy Making,” and GOVT 238: “American Political Parties.” He, like Adeboye, finds himself lucky to work in a place that achieves a special balance between conducting research and teaching.
“This is an institution that values both research and teaching, and it provides resources for faculty to succeed in both areas,” Dancey said. “The intellectual curiosity of the students is also something that stood out to me when I interviewed for the job back in November of 2011. It’s a pleasure to walk into the classroom and have the students ready to engage with the course material in a serious and thoughtful way.”
Dancey relies on thoughtful participation to develop a curriculum that is driven by passionate viewpoints and is based off of current events.
“Each semester there are new issues and dynamics in American politics to discuss with my students and colleagues,” Dancey wrote in an email to The Argus. “I’ve taught Campaigns and Elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018, and each electoral cycle seemed unique in interesting ways. I look forward to seeing how American politics evolve over the next several years and trying to make sense of it alongside the students.”
Hughes, who is teaching ASTR 155: “Introduction to Astrophysics,” ASTR 430: “Seminar on Astronomical Pedagogy,” and CIS 321: “Special Topics in Integrative Sciences,” also looks forward to seeing her curriculum develop and grow throughout the year.
“This summer I have really enjoyed thinking about new things I want to try with my teaching and research that I might have been a little bit afraid to try before I had tenure,” Hughes wrote. “One thing I’ve always tried to do in my classes is to make connections between astronomy and important issues like climate change, social justice, and ethics, and I’m interested in continuing to build those connections into the curriculum in the future.”
As she enters her first tenured year of teaching at the University, Hughes hopes to emulate the professors she first encountered when she visited Wesleyan as a high school student.
“Wesleyan and I go way back: my grandfather and uncle are both alumni, and it was my most memorable college visit as a high school student,” Hughes wrote. “I remember wandering up to the observatory as an astronomy-interested high school nobody, and one of the professors saw me in the hall, invited me into his office, and talked to me for an hour about astronomy and Wesleyan—it was so kind! Even at that age, I remember thinking: ‘That’s the sort of professor I’d like to be someday.”
These professors join others who were promoted earlier in the spring, which went into effect July 1: Associate Professor of Mathematics David Constantine, Associate Professor of American Studies Megan Glick, Associate Professor of Sociology Kerwin Kaye, Associate Professor of History Jeffers Lennox, Associate Professor of Spanish Maria Jeffers , Associate Professor of Religion Justine Quijada, and Associate Professor of English Lily Saint.
Oliver Cope can be reached at Ocope@wesleyan.edu.