Interdisciplinary Scholars Join Faculty at CUNY Graduate Center

Poised for its 50th Anniversary next year, the CUNY Graduate Center is adding to its already renowned faculty 12 senior-level professors who will help set the tone for the institution’s next era as a national leader in doctoral and graduate-level education.

“At a time in which other universities have frozen or slowed their hiring, we have grown substantially,” says Graduate Center Provost Chase Robinson.

Eight of the newly appointed professors begin this fall, one next January, and three in the fall of 2011. They are:

Juliette Blevins (Linguistics), one of the world’s leading phonologists, an expert and advocate for endangered and aboriginal languages;

Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science), internationally renowned theorist, past Guggenheim Fellow, and longtime Cornell professor of government;

Kandice Chuh (English), a prominent figure in Asian American studies, known for her theory of “subjectless discourse”;

Alexander Gamburd (Mathematics, coming in fall 2011), expert in number theory, probability, and quantum chaos, winner of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers;

Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Earth and Environmental Sciences), well-known geographer and community activist from USC, current president of the American Studies Association;

Peter Godfrey-Smith (Philosophy, coming in fall 2011) from Harvard University, a leading scholar in the philosophy of biology and philosophy of the mind;

Uday Singh Mehta (Political Science), Clarence Francis Professor in the Social Sciences at Amherst College, whose recent work focuses on war, peace, and nonviolence;

Alva Noë (Philosophy, coming in fall 2011), a philosopher from UC Berkeley doing groundbreaking work on perception and consciousness;

Paul Julian Smith (Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages), member of the British Academy, a wide-ranging critic whose work spans literature, film, fashion, and media;

Bryan S. Turner (Sociology), one of the most respected sociologists of religion, who was Alona Evans Distinguished Visiting Professor at Wellesley College;

Roderick Watts (Social Welfare), a psychologist who combines cutting-edge research, theory, and a commitment to social justice, known for his work with African American youth;

Douglas Whalen (Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, coming in spring 2011), a world-class scientist in the fields of speech and phonetics, from the Yale-affiliated Haskins Laboratory.

Many of the new faculty recruits — who come from institutions such as Amherst, Cornell, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, Harvard, Wellesley, and USC — are being appointed to the rank of Distinguished Professor or Presidential Professor. All are full, tenured professors.

All of the new hires represent a significant level of support from CUNY’s central administration. In addition, seven of the twelve appointments form part of a major initiative for renewal and interdisciplinary innovation in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences further supported (along with the Central Administration and the Graduate Center) by the Mellon Foundation, which gave $2.41 million toward three interdisciplinary committees: the Committee for Science Studies, the Committee for the Study of Religion, and the Committee for the Study of Globalization and Social Change.

“This reflects a commitment on the part of the Graduate Center to complement its preexisting disciplinary strengths with scholars who are undertaking the most significant interdisciplinary work,” says Robinson, who acknowledges the enlightened leadership from CUNY in making faculty funds available for this new generation of talent. “It’s a partnership between the Graduate Center, the central administration, and the Mellon Foundation that has created these interdisciplinary committees and filled them with exceptional scholars,” says Robinson.