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Faculty Search Committee Paring Down List of Ethnic Studies Hires, FAS Dean Gay Says

Dean Claudine Gay
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Claudine Gay, poses for a picture in her office.

A faculty search committee has compiled a long list of candidates for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ ongoing ethnic studies faculty search, FAS Dean Claudine Gay said Tuesday.

Gay announced in June that FAS plans to hire three or four new faculty members this academic year who specialize in Asian American, Latinx, and Muslim American studies.

The search committee is currently paring down the list and will eventually invite a number of candidates to campus to give public lectures and meet with faculty and students. Gay said that, as is the case in many faculty searches, students will have opportunities to interact with the candidates.

“In most of the searches, there are opportunities for anyone who attended the lecture to share written feedback with the search committee, and that will be the case in this search,” Gay said.

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“This could be intellectually quite a galvanizing moment and educational opportunity, frankly, for the whole campus.”

Gay said the committee includes faculty from both social sciences and humanities. In addition to Romance Language and Literature professor Mayra R. Rivera and Sociology professor Mary C. Waters, who co-chair the committee, members include Government professor Ryan D. Enos, Romance Languages and Literature professor Lorgia García Peña, English professor Ju Yon Kim, and assistant professor of Psychology Katie A. McLoughlin.

The committee is not prioritizing prospective hires from certain fields, or necessarily seeking to balance the new appointments evenly between the Social Sciences and Humanities divisions, Gay said.

“It's an open search with respect to rank and particular academic discipline,” she said. “What we're optimizing for are folks who can expand our curriculum, our teaching, advising, and research capacity on issues related to ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration.”

In the past, Gay has said hiring such faculty could be the first step towards establishing a formalized ethnic studies program. Asked whether she would support creating an ethnic studies program in the future, Gay said it would ultimately be up to the faculty to create such a program.

“I support my faculty,” she said.

In October 2018, Gay said she did have the ability to create a program, but she would only do so in consultation with faculty.

“I have the structural authority to create an ethnic studies program like tomorrow, but I’m not going to be the one teaching it and advising the students in it, because I’m sitting in this office,” Gay said.

Since early in her tenure, Gay has placed particular emphasis on ethnic studies hiring. After taking office in fall 2018, she said was actively recruiting faculty who study race and ethnicity. In Feb. 2019, after the loss of two tenure-track professors specializing in Asian American studies, Gay said she would recruit three professors who study ethnicity.

Students and alumni have been pressing for a formalized ethnic studies program for the past four decades and have renewed efforts in recent years, protesting on campus and sending multiple letters to University administrators calling for such a program.

—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mollmccaff.

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