Pardue Fellowship: The first at the Institute


November 12, 2015 | Melissa Clay

How does a university support its accomplished faculty?

“The gift that we may appreciate the most is the gift of time,” says UNC music professor and jazz studies director Jim Ketch.

That’s certainly one of the aims of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities through its Faculty Fellows Program.

In 1992, Ketch became the first faculty fellow at the IAH, thanks to an endowment by David Pardue ’69 and his wife Becky. Back then, the Institute was called the Program for the Arts and the Humanities, located at the former West House between Hanes and Swain Halls.

The IAH was established in 1987 by Ruel W. Tyson Jr., professor of religious studies, and Gillian T. Cell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to nurture liberal arts learning and support faculty excellence. As a home for interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration, it serves to recruit, develop, and retain a world-class faculty for UNC.

The Pardues, who have a long history of supporting UNC, were also instrumental in helping to build Hyde Hall, where the IAH currently resides.

David and Becky lived in Burlington in the 1980s, so they remained close to UNC. “My business partner and I gave a gift of some real estate as part of the Bicentennial Campaign [in 1989],” he said.

“We wanted to channel our gift into something that was important to the Arts and Sciences Foundation and in particular to College of Arts and Sciences Dean Gill Cell,” said David. “It was one of the dean’s priorities to get the Institute going. So I would give a lot of credit to Dean Cell for that.”

Thus, the Pardue Fellowship was established. David Pardue went on to serve on the UNC Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2003. He and Becky also served on the IAH Advisory Board during the planning of Hyde Hall, which opened its doors in 2002.

Ketch remembers that finding out he was the first Pardue Fellow was “like Christmas.”

James Ketch, professor of music and director of jazz studiesJames Ketch

For Ketch, getting the time to focus on the language of jazz meant he was able to study in a way he couldn’t while maintaining a busy teaching schedule. But he immediately saw how the fellowship could serve his students, and not just himself.

The Pardue Fellowship helped Ketch teach his jazz students “to become native speakers of this language,” he said. “And it is a new language. You don’t acquire that overnight.”

IAH fellowships not only give faculty the gift of time, but the gift of community as well. Each week during the fellowship semester, they discuss their work over a meal with professors from a variety of departments.

Current Pardue Fellow, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, has found it “beautiful to be a part of” this community. Griest, the Margaret R. Shuping Fellow of creative writing in the department of English and comparative literature, is completing a book about communities that straddle international borders, particularly the Tejanos in Texas/Mexico and the Mohawk tribes in New York/Canada.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Margaret R. Shuping Fellow of creative writing, is the current Pardue Fellow in the IAH

“Usually when we [writers] finish a work we have other writers to go over it,” said Griest. “I think it’s even more valuable to give it to a mathematician to look at afterwards.” These colleagues, all from outside her field, are “intelligent, open, eager and compassionate, bringing all these ideas they have gathered over a lifetime of a career.”

Becky Pardue said she has been inspired by this interdisciplinary setting and the impact of that experience for the UNC community.

“Professors from different departments would have to discuss the projects on which they were working, which would lead to a more common dialogue among the professors because they would not be able to use the rarified dialogue that they use within their departments. And that ultimately would seep down from them to the kids. And the kids would be able to understand them more easily.”

“To us that was a beginning because at that time our son had just graduated [from UNC],” she said.

David said, “It helps, number one, make people like Jim [Ketch] a better teacher and, number two, helps retain them at Carolina. That’s a real goal. We’ve just been really pleased with the recipients of the fellowship.”

Ketch went on to become an Academic Leadership Program Fellow in 2002 and in 2014 he received UNC’s Student Undergraduate Teaching Award. He has served in several leadership roles on campus, including chair of the department of music. Off campus he serves as music director of the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and associate director of Swing Central Jazz for the Savannah Music Festival.

Becky said endowing the fellowship at the IAH has been a rewarding experience for her and her husband.

“I feel like, as much as we were delighted to direct our money that way, watching the good that it has done the different professors who have received fellowships—David and I have gotten back a thousand fold.”

To read more about the Pardues and their support of the College of Arts and Sciences, go to: http://college.unc.edu/2011/12/21/family-affair-pardues-support-new-theatre-professorship-fellowship/