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College of Arts and Sciences

Grad students honor three A&S professors with awards

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  A&S Communications
June 21, 2019

Two A&S professors — Jenny Mann, associate professor of English, and Jolene Rickard, associate professor of American studies and history of art and visual studies — were honored recently by the  Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) with Faculty Teaching, Advising and Mentorship awards. Michael Niemack, assistant professor of physics, received an honorable mention. Faculty members are nominated by current graduate students or alumni. This year there were more than 90 nominations for four awards.

“The committee received 90 letters from graduate and professional students, nominating faculty from across the university,” said Carol-Rose Little, a linguistics PhD student and chair of the awards committee. ”We were looking for faculty who went above and beyond, like changing department culture, being crucial in helping students through difficult times and bringing diverse perspectives to teaching.”

The professors received the awards at a May 15 ceremony in the Art Gallery of Willard Straight Hall.

“I am so honored to have been nominated by my students,” Mann said, “Graduate students are crucial members of the research and teaching ecosystem at Cornell.”

Mann has made diversity and inclusion a priority, funded moving costs for underrepresented minority students, sponsored events to raise graduate student morale and did away with the GRE as an admissions criteria because she thinks those results correlate to class and race rather than success in an English PhD program, Little said.

Mann, a scholar of early modern English literature and culture, researches the relationship between rhetoric, natural philosophy, knowledge formation and poetic expression in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rickard’s nomination letters highlighted the many roles she plays to create a welcoming community on campus for students, Little said.

“Her student writes that ‘as a fierce advocate of Indigenous studies and treatment of indigenous issues with integrity at Cornell, Prof. Rickard is rigorous but not isolating, precise but accessible to all Cornell community members, but continually adaptive, strategic and listening,’” Little said.

Rickard has received a Ford Foundation Research Grant to conduct research in the Americas, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, culminating in a new journal on Indigenous Esthetics. She also has a forthcoming book “Visualizing Sovereignty.” She is an affiliated faculty member in the American Indian Program and was a 2010-2011 recipient of Cornell Society for the Humanities Fellowship on the thematic topic of “Global Aesthetics.”

The graduate student group GPSA created the awards in 2011 to express their gratitude to excellent faculty mentors. The awards recognize faculty who provide student-specific guidance on how to achieve successful completion of program requirements, direct students toward resources that can assist them in their work and foster community and collegiality among students and faculty.

“I learn something new from the graduate students in my program every single day,” Mann said. “I’m glad to be able to use my faculty position to advocate for graduate students both individually and collectively.”