GRADUCon 2018 - Teaching at Liberal Arts Colleges Panel


How is being a tenure track faculty member at a liberal arts college different from working at a research-1 university? What kinds of support do liberal arts colleges offer for research and scholarship? Many graduate students and postdocs who are exploring various options for their academic careers seek answers to these and other questions about teaching at liberal arts colleges. At least some liberal arts colleges feel like they are misunderstood–that most people erroneously perceive them to be institutions where the faculty only teach and no longer actively pursue research and scholarship. Even among those who do not hold this view, there are questions about whether and how faculty can balance the demands of being an effective teacher and a productive scholar. Join a panel of faculty from liberal arts colleges in Illinois and other parts of the country for a conversation about intellectual, social, and even personal life as a faculty member at these kinds of institutions.


Rebecca Graff, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Lake Forest College, (PhD Anthropology 2011)

Rebecca S. Graff is an assistant professor of anthropology and Lake Forest College (PhD and MA, University of Chicago; BA, University of California, Berkeley). She previously taught at Michigan Technological University and was an Earl S. Johnson Postdoctoral Instructor at the University of Chicago’s Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS). As an historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-century urban United States, she explores the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, and contemporary heritage and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. Her book project, “The Vanishing City and the Enduring Home: Approaching Modernity at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the Charnley-Persky House” is based on a multi-sited archaeological project and is being published under the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) after winning their 2013 Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award. Graff has directed and co-directed archaeological projects in Chicago, including those in Jackson Park, Bronzeville, Forest Home Cemetery, and at the Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Charnley-Persky House.

Philip Venticinque, Associate Professor of Classics, Cornell College Iowa (PhD Classics 2009)

I am a classicist who specializes in the social and economic history of the Greco-Roman world, specifically Roman Egypt. Though my research and recent monograph, Honor Among Thieves: Craftsmen, Merchants, and Associations in Roman and Late Roman Egypt (University of Michigan 2016), focuses on these topics, my teaching at Cornell College, where I am currently an Associate Professor of Classics and chair of the Classical and Modern Languages Department, covers a range of language, history, and humanities classes. Since joining Cornell’s faculty in 2009 I have taught Latin and Greek language at all levels, first year seminars (such as Classics and the Graphic Novel and Egypt in the Imagination), Greek and Roman history, Roman religion, and the ancient economy. I have also delivered a commencement and a convocation address (in 2015 and 2018) and served on numerous committees including (Salary, Administration, Divisional Council) and participated in multiple searches (German, French, Spanish, and Classics).

Krista Aronson, Associate Professor of Psychology, Bates College (PhD University of Michigan 2003)

Krista Maywalt Aronson is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Bates College, where she joined the faculty in 2003. Her work focuses on illuminating how people come to understand complex social constructs like race and ethnicity, including how children process and understand race, appropriate/productive ways to discuss this topic with them, and the effective use of picture books to enhance intercultural relationships and self-understanding during childhood. As director of The Diverse BookFinder, Krista enacts this work through publicly engaged research designed to inform academic social science and librarianship as well as the diverse books movement and children’s book industry. In addition, she as an evaluator for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), through the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE). Krista holds a B.A. from Ithaca College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Rodrigo Sanchez-Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, St. Olaf College (PhD Texas A&M 2012)

Prof. Rodrigo Sanchez-Gonzalez joined St. Olaf College in August 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He completed his PhD in Chemistry at Texas A&M University in 2012, where he developed the first single diagnostic capable of full-frame instantaneous and simultaneous two-component velocity and temperature measurements, the VENOM technique, by using laser induced fluorescence methods that employ nitric oxide originating from NO2 photodissociation as a molecular tracer. He worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he contributed to the development and application of optical-based diagnostics to measure exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) distribution in prototype diesel engines using temporally resolved CO2 absorption measurements. He returned to Texas A&M University as a Postdoctoral Researcher, where he led efforts in projects funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research focused on novel laser-based diagnostics development, laser-grid turbulence characterization, and fundamental studies of turbulent boundary layers. He joined St. Olaf College where started the Non-Equilibrium and Laser Diagnostics Laboratory, focused on the study of fundamental energy transfer phenomena at low temperatures and the development of experimental and image processing methods to study high-speed flows.


Mary James, Dean for Institutional Diversity and AA Knowlton Professor of Physics, Reed College (PhD Stanford Applied Physics, 1988)

Mary James is the Dean for Institutional Diversity and the A. A. Knowlton Professor of Physics at Reed College. Her principal areas of physics research have been in accelerator physics and astrophysics. As Dean, Professor James works across all college constituencies to design and implement practices and procedures to build a diverse faculty, staff, and student body and to create a campus climate in which community members from diverse backgrounds can work, learn, and grow in a supportive and inclusive environment. Professor James has served on and chaired the Committee on Minorities of the American Physical Society. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College. James received her B.A. in physics from Hampshire College and her Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University.