CLAS Invests Three New Endowed Chairs

Professor of English Brenda Brueggemann, Professor of Economics Stephen Ross, and Professor of History Manisha Sinha were recognized at a ceremony on Wednesday, April 5.

From left to right: Interim Provost Jeremy Teitelbaum, James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History Manisha Sinha, Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair Stephen Ross, Aetna Chair of Writing Brenda Brueggemann, and interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Davita Silfen Glasberg, on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (Photos courtesy Defining Studios)

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences honored three accomplished professors at an investiture ceremony for endowed chairs on April 5. The chairs represent an investment in the College by individuals and organizations that support distinguished faculty members in their pursuit of excellence in scholarly research, teaching, and outreach.

“This recognition is one of the highest awards the University has to offer its faculty,” said interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Davita Silfen Glasberg. “Endowed chairs provide resources to the awardees and enable them to do even more of the work that makes us, as an institution, proud.”

Glasberg and interim Provost Jeremy Teitelbaum hosted the event, held at the UConn Alumni Center, which celebrated both the faculty installed into these endowed positions and the donors and organizations who support them.

Endowed chairs provide resources that enable faculty members to focus on academic endeavors, and provide funding for academic programs, such as speaker series, student development opportunities, and research initiatives.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to the Draper family for their generosity and commitment to the humanities,” says Manisha Sinha, professor of history, who was invested as the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History. “I envision this chair making invaluable contributions to and enhancing teaching and research of history at the University.”

Brenda Brueggemann, professor of English, was invested as the Aetna Chair of Writing. The chair focuses on writing and the teaching of writing at UConn by leading a number of outreach initiatives, such as an annual conference on teaching and writing research and the Connecticut Writing Project’s Summer Institute, a professional development workshop for primary and secondary school educators. The chair also hosts a creative writer-in-residence each semester and supports several publications on campus, including the Long River Review, UConn’s award-winning student literary magazine. In addition, the chair recognizes excellence in writing by awarding the Aetna Celebration of Creative Nonfiction and several prizes for students through the UConn Writing Center.

Brueggemann joined the Department of English in August 2016 from The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on disability and deaf studies in the humanities, particularly at intersections with writing studies. She is the author of Disability in the Arts and Humanities (Routledge, 2012), Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places (NYU Press, 2008), and Lend Me Your Ear: Rhetorical Constructions of Deafness (Gallaudet UP, 1999), as well as co-author, editor, or co-editor of five other volumes.

Stephen Ross, professor of economics, was invested as the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair. The professorship honors UConn President Philip E. Austin, who led the University for 11 years beginning in 1996. The endowment supporting the chair was created by prominent donors and leaders who worked closely with President Austin.

Ross is an urban economist whose research focuses on understanding the experiences of disadvantaged groups, especially African-Americans, in U.S. cities and metropolitan areas. He has published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, including the Journal of Political Economy, and is the author of The Color of Credit (MIT Press). He also serves on five editorial boards and is an affiliate of the Penn Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania and the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group at the University of Chicago. He joined the UConn Department of Economics in 1994.

Manisha Sinha, professor of history, was invested as the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History. The Draper Chair supports research and teaching in the history of colonial America and the United States to the middle of the nineteenth century in the Department of History’s graduate program. James Draper ’41 endowed the professorship with a $1.5 million gift to honor the memory of his wife, Shirley Draper ’41. The chair funds research assistantships, student fellowships, and workshops and colloquia in early American history. The chair has also overseen the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Graduate Student Conference in Early American Studies.

Sinha joined the UConn Department of History in August 2016 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research interests lie in early United States history, especially the transnational histories of slavery and abolition and the Civil War and Reconstruction. She is the author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery (University of North Carolina Press, 2000) and The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2016), which was long listed for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. She is a contributing author of The Abolitionist Imagination (Harvard University Press, 2012) and co-editor of the two-volume African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the African Slave Trade to the Twenty First Century (Prentice Hall, 2004) and Contested Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2007).