Dear “The Queer Does Not End Here,”
Thank you for writing about your concerns regarding the future of Queer Studies at Hampshire. As you know, we have finally begun to build up a Queer Studies program in the last years. We will continue to do so.
We made a number of advances over the past two years. Two hires are worth noting. Recognizing the emergence of Queer Studies over a year ago, and eager to experiment, the deans and I crafted a visiting position during a very tight budget year. We hired Professor Jaclyn Pryor as a half time visiting faculty member in Queer Studies and Public Practice for 2011-2012. The year before, The Five College Deans approved funding for a new position in Feminist Science Studies. Professor Angela Willey also started in this position this AY (2011-2012) and is a recognized expert in Queer Studies. Professor Willey’s permanent position is shared by Hampshire, Mt Holyoke, and UMASS. I worked to make sure that Hampshire shared this permanent faculty position.
This year we have had NYU Law Professor Gabriel Arkles to campus twice to conduct sessions to educate the faculty and administration about gender identity, we have reviewed bathroom signage policy campus wide, and we are currently working on a college policy regarding preferred names and pronoun usage. These efforts are a start and will continue in years to come. I deeply appreciate the collaborative work of the students, staff and faculty on the Transworking Group on the bathroom signage policy and the preferred names and pronoun. Last, the Five College Deans/Chief Academic Officers and Hampshire’s Education Policy Committee recommended and the Hampshire Faculty passed the Five College Queer and Sexuality Studies Certificate.
Next year I also expect the following.
First, Hampshire will continue to explore academic aspects of Queer Studies. I hope that we can use the beginning of the year to continue to educate the community about the diverse intersections of Queer Studies and about the field itself. This exploration might take the form of a series of workshops and lectures. In addition to Professor Willey, many of you have heard that we have hired a Five College Pre-doctoral Fellow, Aniruddha Maitra. Mr. Maitra’s background is in Feminist and Queer Studies, based in a number of fields and theoretical orientations including but not limited to media studies and critical theory within diasporic and transnational frameworks. He will be teach one course, most likely in HACU, offer some public presentations and will be additional full time resource on campus. I do not want to overburden him with committee work, since the main goal is to finish writing his dissertation (a second goal is to familiarize a scholar who would add diversity with teaching at Hampshire). Mr. Maitra may serve on some Division II and Division III committees. He will enrich us and I hope you will warmly welcome him.
Second, the deans are deeply concerned about finding good committees for every student. Each semester, this is one of our greatest challenges in many areas of study. Visiting faculty leave, regular faculty retire, go on leaves and sabbaticals, and sometimes unpredictable life events make it impossible for them to maintain their committee obligations. In each case, CASA, usually by following the leaving faculty member’s recommendations, and in consultation with school deans, helps students to find other advisors and committee members. The process is often upsetting, but it is part of the way Hampshire functions and has been successful. The institution is firmly committed to placing all students who are losing faculty committee members with new members.
Finally, as the deans have written in March, 2012, we are going forward with a permanent position in Queer Studies through an open national search under affirmative action guidelines. A position description will be drafted in the next few weeks. The regular position, pending budget and board approval in May, would allow us to search for the position in 2012-13 with the hope of the successful candidate beginning as our first permanent, full time faculty member in Queer Studies on July 1, 2013.