Video by Joe O'Neill
Dickinson officially installed Professor of English Wendy Moffat as the second incumbent of the John J. Curley ’60 and Ann Conser Curley ’63 Faculty Chair in Global Education. The endowed chair, which is one of the highest honors a Dickinson faculty member can receive, was awarded to Moffat in recognition of her outstanding teaching, scholarship and service to the college.
"Professor Moffat exemplifies Dickinson's mission," said interim President Neil Weissman, during the installation ceremony, which included an address from Moffat, "The Texture of Teaching in a Liberal Arts College,” as well as performances from student musicians. Unlike at many other institutions where similar honors provide funding support for faculty research only, Weissman noted, endowed faculty chairs at Dickinson support every aspect of a professor's role—teaching, scholarship and service.
The Curley chair is one of 21 endowed faculty chairs at Dickinson and one of three that were created by gifts from the Curleys. Endowed chairs provide permanent funding to attract and retain the best teachers and scholars to the college's faculty. Funds associated with the chair allow the chaired professor to design and implement advances in teaching and research, while creating opportunities for students to participate in both. The first incumbent of the chair was Professor of Romance Languages and Literature Sylvie Davidson, who retired 2015.
"Being grateful for the professors we had, we wanted to do something to support today's professors," said Ann, who, together with her husband John, has also supported Dickinson's mission through gifts bolstering scholarships, athletics, the library and more.
Moffat, who joined Dickinson in 1984, focuses on British modernism in her teaching and research. Her 2010 biography of E.M. Forster, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster, was featured on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, won the Biographers Club Prize in the U.K., was runner-up for the PEN Biography Prize in the U.S. and was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Biography Prize in Scotland. A British and American dual citizen, Moffat established—and continues to administer—Dickinson’s yearlong program at Mansfield College, Oxford, for exceptional students in the humanities and social sciences and she has presented work at the University of London with Dickinson students and on a panel of distinguished biographers. In 2015, Moffat was awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship to write Wounded Minds, a book on the American experience of PTSD in World War I, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
"It's a marvelous thing because it isn't bricks and mortar," Moffat said of the Curley's decision to direct their giving toward endowed faculty chairs. "It's kind of a psychic devotion to the college—the heart of what the college is about, which is the teaching of the students here. They really have the bedrock sense that Dickinson is the important charitable work that they want to leave a legacy for. I think that's pretty cool."
Read Moffat's address from the event, "The Texture of Teaching in a Liberal Arts College.” (PDF)
Published February 8, 2017