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30-for-30 Campaign: A way for fellows to give back

March 5, 2018 | Jennifer Ho, IAH Associate Director

Faculty Fellows Meet at Hyde HallLike most of my colleagues at Carolina, I love what I do—the life of a professor is a good life. We take a deep dive into our intellectual passions and share our expertise in the classroom with hard working and curious students, and we perform myriad types of service to our department, college, and professional networks. Yet time off from teaching and service is so necessary to let our minds make fruitful connections in the work we are actively producing at a Research I university.

Faculty nationwide are assessed based on three factors: research, teaching, and service. The first two are the more visible and discernible aspects of faculty work: We publish our research and we teach students in the classroom. But often our service remains obscured from view. Whenever a faculty member sits on a committee at the department, college, or university level, they are performing service. When faculty come to department meetings to discuss the governance of the department, that’s service. Faculty review dossiers for colleagues to be hired, read the files of our fellow department colleagues, vote on personnel issues, and serve on tenure and promotion committees, that’s service, too. We conduct independent study classes with undergraduate and graduate students; we host visiting scholars; we invite guest speakers to campus; we recruit graduate students to apply and matriculate to UNC; we meet with prospective undergraduate students—this is all service, as in the various administrative positions we hold in our departments (chair, director of graduate studies) and at UNC. In our professional lives we review articles for journals, books for university presses, tenure and promotion files for our colleagues at other institutions, conference proposals, and on occasion dissertations for PhD students at other universities. Much of the service we do is in service to our professional communities, whether at the level of our departments or to our respective disciplines. As the name suggests, service is about giving back to our colleagues and to our scholarly fields because our careers depend on the service others have shown us in reading our files and helping us in our scholarship. It is necessary and labor-intensive work that largely goes unseen.

In 1988 the first group of faculty fellows gathered together under the auspices of the Program for the Arts and Humanities. The year before, Religious Studies Professor Ruel W. Tyson, Jr., along with a group of faculty, discussed the need to promote arts and humanities research at UNC and to support faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. Thirty years later, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities is proud to continue supporting faculty across ranks throughout the entire university.

Being an IAH Faculty Fellow isn’t just about having time off from teaching and service; the value lies in the community built within every semester’s cohort as they gather around the Fellows Table at Hyde Hall to share their research and discuss their scholarship with other academics. It is a shared experience of colloquy and camaraderie that stresses intellectual exploration and that emphasizes continued engagement, because our motto at the IAH is: “Once a fellow, always a fellow.”

As someone who has had the privilege of sitting at the Fellows Table twice, I wanted to find a concrete way to celebrate the 30 years and 600+ faculty who have participated in the Faculty Fellowship Program (FFP) and to give other fellows the opportunity to also express their regard for the Institute and their fellow faculty. With that in mind, I am calling on each faculty member who has gone through FFP to donate $30—a dollar a year, though of course we encourage faculty to give more if they can—in honor of the IAH’s 30 years of empowering faculty. Each fellow has a different story to tell, but one thing we share is deep appreciation for the Institute, using words like “transformative” and “intellectually generous” and “professionally affirming” when talking about what a semester at Hyde Hall truly meant.

A fundraising appeal to faculty can be a hard sell when UNC faculty haven’t seen raises in years. And $30 doesn’t seem like much when considering the cost of faculty course buy-outs. However, I can testify that it is. Not only is 30-for-30 an important way for faculty to show their appreciation for their time at the Institute, but if each faculty fellow donated $75 we could sponsor a fellowship at the IAH for one semester. That is why I have donated $300—and I hope others will join me in giving to the Institute for this 30-for-30 campaign.

The two semesters at the Institute were the most productive semesters I had in terms of writing. Being able to bounce ideas off the minds of my smart colleagues, listening to their innovative projects, and generally being immersed in a community that allowed me to think broadly and deeply about my research allowed me to think capaciously and to write to my capacity. Again, it was not simply the time off (though that time was crucial): It was the structured discipline of showing up weekly, along with the intellectual camaraderie and community. The experience allowed me to publish my second book; furthermore, I wrote more than I had written when I had free and unfettered time. I wish we could guarantee that every faculty member at Carolina could experience the insight and motivation that emerges from a few months around the Fellows Table at Hyde Hall. The 30-for-30 campaign is one small step in making that vision a reality one day.