As CMC students, we love and respect our professors. We babysit their children on the weekends, join them for dinner, and sit down to talk with them during office hours. Before these close relationships develop, however, it is their teaching ability and renowned knowledge that initially draws us towards their classrooms and gives us the wonderful opportunity and gift of education.

At CMC, our professors take on a special Teacher-Scholar model where they dedicate their time to students as well as their own research. This duality can have its pluses and its minuses. While the model allows professors to spend more time in the classroom, it can also lead to teacher burnout or recycling of content without updates. Teachers who have been in the classroom for many years both may need and unquestionably deserve a break.

According to the Faculty Handbook, faculty members are eligible to take one full-year, full-paid sabbatical after twelve semesters of full time employment at CMC, or a half-year, half-paid sabbatical after at least six semesters of full-time employment at CMC. This break offers teachers the opportunity to get back into their respective fields, increase and expand their knowledge base, learn about latest trends, and make new professional contacts. In this way, a sabbatical offers students the benefit of a more expansive and updated education while also providing professors a chance to revitalize their passions and content.  

Below is a list of professors who will be taking their sabbatical and short blurbs outlining what they intend to do with their time. Also included is a list of professors who will be either taking a leave of absence, or leaving indefinitely.

Henri Cole, Professor of Literature, will be taking the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017 to to continue working on some of his own material. His work will include his new collection of poetry, his nonfiction book about Paris, tentatively titled “Orphic Paris,” and his assortment of translations from French. Since Professor Cole is a lyric poet, his poems will be interior soliloquies, neither confessional nor abstract. His nonfiction prose will be a hybrid work, blending autobiography, art, and architecture, with digressions about poetry. Cole also expects to spend time during his sabbatical traveling to places such as the Adirondacks, NY; Marfa, Texas; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; and Katowice, Poland. Although he is uncertain of what he will take away and bring back to the community from his sabbatical experience, he hopes that this experience will have a formative effect, “I will turn sixty in a few weeks, and I hope, in beginning a new decade of my life, to continue growing, but the future is difficult for me to see, and my life in Claremont is only beginning to take shape.”

Roderic Camp, Philip M. McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim, hopes to achieve three goals during his Fall 2016 sabbatical. His first goal is to revise a work entitled Mexico: What Everyone Needs to Know. The work is part of an Oxford series designed for a broad reading audience and its revisions will be published in 2017. His motivation behind this goal is to continue to educate the American public and leadership about Mexico’s many cultural, economic, and political qualities. His second goal is to work alongside historian Bill Beezley, a colleague from the University of Arizona, in continuing an already-begun project on live, professional video-graphed interviews. The interviews are with leading political figures and other distinguished Mexicans who played a critical role in the country’s transition from a semi-authoritarian model to an electoral democracy. His third and final goal is to visit Vietnam in order to include it as part of his curriculum on his course on Introduction to Comparative Politics, which focuses on third world development.

Jack Pitney, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Politics, will be spending spring ‘17 finishing his book on the 1988 presidential campaign, which will be published by Kansas University Press. He first became interested in this topic when he worked on George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign.  It has been more than a quarter of a century since his initial work, so the passage of time will allow Pitney to conduct a detailed analysis of the election’s place in political history. A number of books about the 1988 campaign came out within a year or two of the election, but Professor Pitney hopes to include a new perspective to this realm of study. He notes that we now know that it was the last campaign of the Cold War, the last hurrah of the Greatest Generation, and the last time anyone could plausibly speak of a Republican lock on the electoral college. In his book, Professor Pitney plans to explain this historical context and clear up persistent myths about the campaign, such as the notion that Bush won because of campaign ads about the Massachusetts prison furlough program.

Gaston Espinosa, Arthur V. Stoughton Professor of Religious Studies, will be spending the upcoming fall researching a book on the Spiritual Impulse of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement at Princeton University, where he has been named the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the Department of Politics. In addition, he plans to work with two colleagues on an edited book from a conference they organized together last summer near Berlin, Germany titled Protestants on Screen: Religion, Politics, and Aesthetics in European and American Film. Professor Espinosa’s final sabbatical plans are to give a series of lectures in October on Religion, Race, and the 2016 Election in Europe.

Jeffrey Flory, Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance, will be spending his sabbatical year rekindling old projects and starting new ones to bring back as tools for students to work with. He will be traveling north to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, where he will be working on a collaboration with a friend. Although he is an economics professor, he will be studying science during his sabbatical. One of his projects will be taking a Frankenstein approach to wasp genes in fruit fly cells and observing what role the new genes found in wasps play in fertility. Overall, Flory is excited to get back into the lab, launch some ideas, and see what takes off.  

Ronald Riggio, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, plans to spend the fall of 2016 working on several projects. His first project focuses on revising his textbook, Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology 7th Edition. His second project is on revising a book on transformational leadership with Bernard Bass. His third project will be to begin collecting data for a longitudinal study following people from childhood, through adulthood, and looking at how early developmental experiences predict leadership and “success” as 40-year-old adults.

Daniel Michon, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, has been on sabbatical for this semester, will be teaching a class in the fall, and will then be continuing his sabbatical in the spring. This past semester, he brought a manuscript from the archives in Italy back to CMC. The manuscript deals with a controversy in the 18th century between nuns and their archbishop. Having received the Senior Scholar Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, Professor Michon will be returning to Goa for another three months to work on a project studying the confluence of catholicism and Indian religion in the 17th and 18th century. His main focus will be on the group of nuns that lived in the convent of Goa. He hopes to visit the archive in Goa and find more documentation on the controversy he unhatched in Italy. Overall, he has ideas of what he’s looking for, but is excited to be surprised by what he finds.

Nita Kumar, Professor and Chair of the History Department, will be taking a sabbatical in the fall of 2016. Beginning in the summer, Professor Kumar plans to make a film called “Shankar’s Fairies.” The film, a more adventurous and fictitious rendition of her current research, chronicles the story of a girl belonging to an elite family who finds love and friendship from their servant named Shankar. After working on this film, Professor Kumar hopes to do some finishing research on her book, “Indian Education and the Rise of the New Indian Intelligentsia,” at the archives in Delhi. At the same time, she hopes to spend a few months doing research on her book on the Indian family, which is yet to be titled. Her motivation for these works is both academic and personal. The film “Shankar’s Fairies” was inspired by the death of Professor Kumar’s mother this January. The story is based off of her mother’s life and will be filmed in her mother’s old home, which was recently sold. The second and third projects are continuations of older, ongoing projects that Professor Kumar has been meaning to finish. When she returns from her semester off, Professor Kumar intends to feed these projects directly into her classes on Modern South Asia and South Asian leaders, as well as help guide her current research projects and possible theses.

Paul Hurley, Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy, has been awarded a Faculty Research Fellowship to spend his next year doing research in residence at Tulane’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy in New Orleans. His research project is to demonstrate that many of the most problematic aspects of contemporary ethics are grounded in an impoverished understanding of human agency and action. He plans to track these central problems with contemporary ethics back to what has come to be known as the “Standard Story” of agency and action, the account that informs everything from rational choice theory to cost-benefit analysis, and to demonstrate that a more plausible alternative to the Standard Story avoids these problems, helping to bring the agent back into her rightful place in ethics. His inspiration comes from his ongoing work with his PPE students.

Aseema Sinha, Wagener Family Associate Professor of Comparative Politics and George R. Roberts Fellow, a professor in the Government Department, International Relations program, and a politics professor in the PPE program, is currently on sabbatical. She has been working on a book-length project based on both her Fulbright-Nehru Research Award and new research in India. Her project, Transforming the US-India Partnership: The Role of Economic and Social Linkages, focuses on four communities: business, diaspora, middle class/students/professionals, and Indian media and elites. She is really excited about her new research and can’t wait to see all the exciting and unanticipated ways in which it will feed into her teaching when she returns.

Irene Tang, Professor at W.M. Keck Science Department, will be leaving for her sabbatical in the spring semester of 2017. She plans to work on several manuscripts and some proposals. She also plans to revisit the upper-division biology courses she’s been teaching and improve the design for her course-based undergraduate research experiences.

Kathleen Purvis-Roberts, Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science at W.M. Keck Science Department, will be working the next year with the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian & Pacific Affairs in the Office of Economic Policy. Her work, beginning in August, will focus on environmental policies around Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Her sabbatical is inspired by being awarded the 2016-17 Jefferson Science Fellowship. She is one of only 12 academic scientists, engineers, and physicians from US institutions of higher learning to be selected this year. Professor Purvis-Roberts will use her science background and expertise to work with the US interagency on developing policies and projects in APEC. She will help identify areas for cooperation on environmental policies in APEC and other forums and hopefully develop policy positions for senior US officials to advance these goals in APEC and elsewhere. Professor Purvis-Roberts is looking forward to learning more about how environmental policy and diplomacy play out in the real world. She wants to use what she learns to enhance the environmental chemistry courses she teaches here and her current research on air pollution. Her research has always had an environmental policy component to it, so she thought that it would be interesting to work at the State Department to learn more about how policies and diplomacy occur around the world.

Emily Wiley, Associate Professor of Biology at W.M. Keck Science Department, will be spending the spring of next semester working with a colleague at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on a collaboration which they recently started. Together, they will be pursuing an alteration of a protein (“histone clipping”) that may be involved in programming the cell’s DNA, or epigenetic gene regulation. A combination of her colleague’s biochemistry expertise and her own molecular/genetic experience will help the two investigate the biological role of histone clipping in processes such as stem cell differentiation.

These professors make up a portion of the professors taking a sabbatical. The rest are as follows: Jay Conger (Psychology), Wei-Chin Hwang (Psychology), Tomoe Kanaya (Psychology), Daniel Krauss (Psychology), Shanna Rose (Government), Sarah Sarzynski (History), Norman Valencia (Modern Languages and Literatures), Raquel Vega-Duran (Modern Languages and Literatures), Kersey Black (Keck Science), Melissa Coleman (Keck Science), Elise Ferree (Keck Science), Patrick Ferree (Keck Science), Sarah Gilman (Keck Science), Mary Hatcher-Skeers (Keck Science), and Thomas Poon (Keck Science).

In addition to sabbatical leave, professors at CMC can take a leave of absence or leave indefinitely. The following professors fall under either of those two categories:

Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow and Director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, will be taking a leave of absence beginning at the spring of 2017 and ending after the fall of 2017. Lower has been appointed Acting Director of the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Her work there will entail overseeing a staff of the world’s leading experts in Holocaust history. They are actively collecting about 10 million pages per year of archival documents  for the Museum’s collections, preparing publications, and organizing research and teaching workshops for scholars and faculty. Among her many responsibilities will be leading initiatives in the digital humanities, and in post-secondary Holocaust and genocide studies education.  

When summer begins, Audrey Bilger, Professor of Literature & Faculty Director of the Center for Writing & Public Discourse, will become the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of College at Pomona College. Last year, Professor Bilger was awarded an American Council on Education fellowship, which allowed her to study executive leadership in higher education and to explore the challenges and opportunities for colleges and universities at this point in history. During her fellowship year, she confirmed her sense of value in educational work and reinforced her commitment to serving higher education. She leaves with these parting words, “Having spent 22 years at Claremont McKenna College, I will cherish the memories of working with the talented staff, faculty, and students here. Fortunately, I will be right across the street, and I look forward to seeing CMC-ers at intercollegiate events and, of course, at the Athenaeum.”

Also leaving: Mitch Warachka