College Plans to Hire Visiting Education Studies Professor
Issue   |   Wed, 10/05/2016 - 01:10

The college will hire a visiting education studies professor to teach for three years starting in the fall of 2017, said Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein in an email on Sept. 29 to a group of students who actively promoted education studies at Amherst.

According to Epstein, Charles Lewis ’64, a lifetime trustee of the college, agreed on Sept. 26 to fund the position, which will be called the “Lewis-Sebring Professor of Education Studies.” Epstein said Lewis has an interest in “educating educators.” He also funds the Program Director of Careers in Education Professions Robert Siudzinski, who is in charge of the Ed Pros Fellowship program.

Professors Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Hilary Moss and Ron Lembo are on the search committee for the visiting professor, with Sanchez-Eppler as the chair. Epstein said the committee will look at multiple departments for professors interested in education studies.

The professorship comes following numerous student and faculty proposals for education studies at the college. Students first informally asked for an education studies curriculum in 2013 during a dinner at President Biddy Martin’s house. Moss said that because of the students’ interest, she and Robert Siudzinski co-taught a course called “Imagining Education Studies” last year.

Students in the course studied the college’s curriculum and researched education studies at other liberal arts colleges. After finding historical evidence that the college’s mission statement includes education studies, the students compiled their research into a proposal, which they presented to the Committee on Education Policy and formally submitted to Epstein. Epstein sent this proposal to Lewis before he decided to fund the professorship.

In the proposal itself, students argued that the college should hire a visiting education studies professor. According to Moss, the students wrote that the college is an outlier in that it does not offer education studies classes. They also said that Amherst students were already pursuing education studies research and other related projects. The proposal culminated with a call for a visiting professor, which was approved by Epstein.

Epstein, however, said that it is unlikely that Amherst will have an education studies department any time soon. She said there may be a program or a concentration within a department, but the structure of that program would then depend on the department under which it was listed.

Anna Vuong ’18, who took “Imagining Education Studies,” said she envisioned an interdisciplinary education studies department, with cross-listed classes.

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