Isa Amaro Varas ’23 awarded distinguished Watson Fellowship
Connecticut College’s faculty awards were presented at a May 2 ceremony honoring professors who displayed excellence in research, teaching and leadership. At the ceremony, President Bergeron honored the late Barkley Hendricks, professor emeritus of studio art, with the inaugural President’s Award for Creative Impact.
The creative impact award honors a senior or emeritus faculty member whose contributions to a chosen field over the course of a career represent a record of significant innovation, achievement and influence.
A painter best known for his life-sized oil portraits of friends, family, and sometimes strangers, Hendricks earned both bachelor and master degrees of fine arts from Yale University before joining the Connecticut College faculty in 1972. In his 38-year career at the College, he worked with generations of students to develop and refine their artistic voices in courses on representational painting, drawing, illustration and photography, with a creative focus on portraiture, the figure and landscape.
The College Art Association honored Hendricks with the 2010 Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work. The association said at the time that his work “transformed how African Americans saw themselves, and how they were seen.”
Hendricks’s major retrospective, “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool,” featured more than 50 paintings, and was on exhibition at a number of national museums from 2008 through 2010.
The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture had a Hendricks portrait on display when it opened in Washington, D.C., in 2006. In 2017, the New Orleans Triennial, Prospect 4, featured 12 of his paintings.
Bergeron said it was fitting to bestow the inaugural President’s Award for Creative Impact on Hendricks.
“We are proud to honor his legacy,” she said.
The rest of the 2018 faculty award winners are:
Sunil Bhatia is the recipient of the 2018 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments. The award was established in 1995 in memory of Nancy Rash, the Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History at Connecticut College from 1972 to 1995.
A professor at the College since 1999, Bhatia specializes in the development of self and identity within the context of postcolonial migration, globalization and formation of transnational diasporas. In particular, his research attempts to reformulate the concept of culture and identity in cultural psychology and human development by showing how critical concepts, such as diaspora and transnational migration, force us to redefine theories of culture, identity, cultural difference and development.
Bhatia is the author of Decolonizing Psychology: Globalization, Social Justice, and Indian Youth Identities, and American Karma: Race, Culture, and Identity and the Indian Diaspora, based on an extensive, two-year ethnography of the middle-class Indian diaspora in Southern Connecticut. Decolonizing Psychology, published in 2017 by Oxford University Press, integrates insights from postcolonial, narrative, and cultural psychology to ask how Euro-American scientific psychology becomes the standard-bearer of psychology throughout the world; whose stories get told; what knowledge is considered as legitimate; and whose lives are considered central to the future of psychology. The book examines how particular class identities shape youth narratives about globalization and “Indianness” and articulates an alternative vision of psychology in which questions of social justice and equality are seen as central to its mission.
Bhatia has also published more than 40 articles and book chapters on issues related to transnational migration, identity and cultural psychology. His articles have appeared in journals including American Psychologist, Human Development, Theory and Psychology, History of Psychology, and Culture and Psychology, and Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He was recently appointed as one of the Associate editors of Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology and he also serves on the editorial board of the journals Qualitative Psychology and History of Psychology.
In addition to his research, Bhatia is the founder of Friends of Shelter Associates, a local chapter of the Indian nonprofit organization, Shelter Associates. The nonprofit raises funds for the construction of community and individual toilets in one of the poorest slum settlements in Maharashtra, and raises awareness of global poverty and poor sanitation conditions in Indian slums. In 2015, Bhatia was honored by the American Psychological Association as the International Humanitarian of the Year.
Ross Morin ’05, a professor at the College since 2011, is the winner of the John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award was established to recognize teacher-scholars with high standards of teaching excellence and concern for students. It is named for the beloved professor of German whose warmth and humanity touched all who knew him.
Morin, an independent filmmaker, editor and cinematographer, believes in teaching film production as a combination of art, storytelling and social justice activism. His courses emphasize a strong relationship between practice and theory.
As acting chair of the department, he has shaped a curriculum that teaches fundamental and advanced technique, craft, art and skills like a traditional film school while integrating the intellectual and theoretical field of film studies. Morin immerses his students in the study of film, while at the same time teaching them to write and direct their own work.
In nominating Morin for the King Award, Associate Professor of Philosophy Simon Feldman praised his ability to teach students, many of whom have no previous experience studying or creating film, to produce work that is “remarkable in its scope and quality.”
“From watching Ross’s students’ thoughtful and active class participation, seeing their work on screen, and watching them do their work, I can say that they leave his courses with preconceptions shattered, having been drawn, by Ross, into newly imagined social, political and critical possibilities for their own work and for what film can be.”
As a scholar, Morin is interested in the representation of sexuality and gender in film and television, in particular the student film. He is the co-founder of Kiltered Productions, and his award-winning film work has screened nationally and internationally. His most recent short film, A Peculiar Thud is touring film festivals around the world.
Tristan Borer is the recipient of the 2018 Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Leadership Award, presented annually to a tenured faculty member whose outstanding service in a leadership role exemplifies the College’s commitment to shared governance, democratic process and campus community development.
Borer joined the College in 1995. An expert in human rights, her current research focuses on issues surrounding Western media portrayals of distant human rights abuses, especially those on the African continent. She has edited two books, Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering and Telling the Truths: Truth-Telling and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Societies. She is the author of Challenging the State: Churches as Political Actors in South Africa 1980-1994. She has also published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on South African politics, transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding.
Borer has served the Connecticut College community in multiple ways, as chair of the Government and International Relations Department, director of the Residential Education Fellows Program, and faculty director of the Faculty Staff Seminar on Advising and Mentoring. She has also served on the Grievances Committee, as a Posse Scholar mentor, and as a member of the Honor Code Review Committee.
In 2015, she was appointed by President Katherine Bergeron to a task force charged with considering actions the College might take to help support the millions of refugees displaced by the ongoing civil war in Syria. In 2016, Borer was named chair of the Committee on Refugee Relief and Education, formed at the recommendation of the task force. The committee works with Start Fresh, a New London area refugee settlement team, to help determine and meet the needs of local refugees. Last spring, a campus film screening of Salam Neighbor raised more than $1,800 for several Syrian refugee families that have resettled in New London, and last summer the committee acquired dozens of Arabic language children’s books for the New London Public Library.
Jane Dawson, the Weinmann Professor of Government and Environmental Studies at Connecticut College, sited Borer’s extensive work with student groups in a letter nominating her for the Brooks Regan award. Borer has served as a Posse mentor and a faculty liaison to the Honor Council. She has also worked with student journalists at the College Voice, helped students form a new club focusing on refugee assistance, and regularly participates in the College’s Residential Education Fellows program.
“I have been constantly impressed with—actually in awe of—Tristan’s dedication to the College,” Dawson wrote. “She has gone above and beyond in her service and is a model for all of us to emulate.”
Virginia Anderson is the 2018 winner of the Helen Mulvey Faculty Award, presented to an assistant professor who regularly offers classes that challenge students to work harder than they thought they could and to reach unanticipated levels of academic achievement.
Anderson, a professor at the College since 2013, specializes in LGBT theater, women’s theater, children’s theater and theater history. Her research and teaching focuses on the AIDS epidemic in theater and film as well as the history of the circus, musical theater history and representations of animals in performance.
Professor of Theater David Jaffe, who chairs the Theater Department, calls Anderson an “excellent teacher” who has made a tremendous impact on the department in just a few years.
“Her devotion to the students and their success is manifested in every moment of her time, and her attention to detail serves as a model for their own efforts as artists, scholars and learners,” he wrote in a letter nominating Anderson for the award.
“She has gone beyond the call to engage with her new academic home through deep and generous commitment to self-challenging examination of her teaching methods and structures. At the same time, Professor Anderson exhibits continuing devotion to her scholarship and publication, and how her own professional journey can inform and enlighten students in the classroom.”
During the award ceremony, Dean of the Faculty Abigail Van Slyck also shared thoughts from one of Anderson’s students.
“In completion of the course, I was left with an overall message from Professor Anderson: If you want change, you have to make change. It is with this simple, yet profound concept that I plan on applying to everything I do, in college and beyond. In a class that once seemed beyond my skill-set, Professor Anderson fed my interest with every assignment and conversation, leaving me with a passion I wouldn’t have found otherwise.”