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Nine Faculty Members Named to Endowed Chairs


Dean of Faculty Patrick D. Reynolds announced the appointment of nine Hamilton faculty members to endowed chairs. All were effective July 1.

Richard Bedient was designated the William R. Kenan Professor of Mathematics; Margaret Gentry was named the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Women’s Studies; Bonnie Urciuoli was appointed the Leonard C. Ferguson Professor of Anthropology; Patricia O’Neill was named Leonard C. Ferguson Professor of English and Creative Writing; Sam Pellman was designated the James L. Ferguson Professor of Music.

Doran Larson was appointed the Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Ethics and Christian Evidences; Ann Silversmith was named as the Litchfield Professor of Physics; Associate Professor of Biology Wei-Jen Chang was appointed the Sidney Wertimer Professor for Excellence in Advising and Mentorship; and Brett Hull was named the Jerome Gottlieb ’64 Coaching Fellow for Exemplary Mentoring.

As described in the Faculty Handbook, appointment to a named chair “is an honor reflecting the special distinction that the holder of the Chair brings to the College and his or her profession.”

Richard Bedient earned a bachelor’s degree from Denison University, and a master’s degree from The University of Pittsburgh. With his wife Betsy, he served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines working in elementary math teacher training.

Upon his return to the states, he earned his doctorate from The University of Michigan. His early research was in low dimensional topology and knot theory. After his arrival at Hamilton, Bedient’s research moved into the relationship between knot theory and chaos theory, which in turn lead to investigations in the area of fractal geometry.

All of these research topics have affected his teaching interests; he has taught a Senior Seminar in Topology, Knot Theory and Fractal Geometry many times. Bedient's most recent work has been of a pedagogical nature along with a return to his roots in knot theory.

Margaret Gentry has been a member of the Hamilton faculty since 1982. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Washington University. She recently concluded a term as associate dean of faculty.

Gentry’s areas of teaching and research include widowhood, women and aging, marriage and family life, violence against women, and feminist pedagogics.

Before joining the academic world she was a mental health worker in Boston and a research associate for the National Institute on Aging, studying needs and behavioral strategies of widows throughout the lifespan.

Gentry is co-author of the book, Gender and Thought: Psychological Perspectives (1989), and is the author of numerous articles that have been published in journals such as Psychology of Women Quarterly, Psychology and Aging, Journal of Gerontology, Transformations, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Bonnie Urciuoli came to Hamilton in 1988. She received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Her areas of interests are linguistic and cultural anthropology, specializing in public discourses of race, class and language, and particularly the discursive construction of “diversity” in U.S. higher education.

Urciuoli’s book, Exposing Prejudice: Puerto Rican Experiences of Language, Race, and Class, was published in 1996; it was awarded the 1997 Gustavus Myers Center Award for the study of human rights in North America. She has published in American Ethnologist, Language and Communication and the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.

Urciuoli is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Society for Cultural Anthropology, the American Ethnological Society, and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology.

Patricia O’Neill received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and is the author of Robert Browning and 20th Century Criticism (1995), editor of Olive Schreiner’s 1883 novel Story of an African Farm (2002) and contributor of essays on globalization and cinema. She published an article on Bollywood in Continuum: A Journal of Media and Cultural Studies (2013).

O'Neill's current work is the creation of a digital archive that promotes knowledge and discussion of the poetry of Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali. Through the Beloved Witness Project, she is assisting in the acquisition of the papers and manuscripts of poet and former Hamilton Professor Agha Shahid Ali, building a digital archive of recordings of Shahid's readings and an internationally accessible archive of manuscript material, and developing courses in digital humanities that promote the use of library and digital technologies in the study of literature.

Her final project for the Beloved Witness Project is to create a poetry generator that will allow users to write their own ghazals, an Urdu-Persian poetic form that Shahid taught and wrote in English. She teaches 19th century British literature and Women Filmmakers.

Sam Pellman received his master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University. Many of his works can be heard on recordings by the Musical Heritage Society, Move Records, and innova recordings, and much of his music is published by the Continental Music Press and Wesleyan Music Press.

Recently Pellman’s music has been presented at the International Symposium of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology in Melbourne, Australia, and the Electric Rainbow Coalition festival at Dartmouth College, and the Musicacoustica Festival at the Central Conservatory for Music in Beijing. Pellman is also the author of An Introduction to the Creation of Electroacoustic Music, a widely-adopted textbook published by Cengage.

At Hamilton he teaches theory and composition and is co-director of the Studio for Transmedia Arts and Related Studies.

Doran Larson teaches courses in prison writing, the history of the novel, 20th-century American literature, and creative writing.

Since November of 2006, he has taught a creative writing course inside a maximum-security state prison. Larson's essays on prison writing and prison issues have been published in College Literature, Radical Teacher, English Language Notes and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

He is the editor of The Beautiful Prison, a special issue of the legal journal, Studies in Law, Politics, and Society; and Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America.

Larson is also the author of two novels, The Big Deal (1985), and Marginalia (1997). He has published articles on Herman Melville, Theodore Dreiser, Henry James and popular film. Larson's stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, Boulevard, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Alaska Quarterly Review and Best American Short Stories. The Iowa Review published his novella, Syzygy, in 1998. He has also published travel writing, magazine features and paid op-eds.

In 1989, Ann Silversmith joined the Hamilton College faculty after completing a Ph.D. at the Australian National University and doing post-doctoral work at the IBM Almaden Research Center.

Silversmith introduced laser spectroscopy, an aspect of physics easily accessible to students, to the Hamilton Physics Department and has supervised more than 30 research students. Two of her student collaborators were named finalists for the Apker Award, given annually by the American Physical Society for excellence in undergraduate research.

Silversmith specializes in developing new laser materials that would be useful in the solid state laser industry and is currently investigating the spectroscopy of rare earth doped sol-gel glasses. Her research has been funded by the Research Corporation and National Science Foundation. Silversmith's recent papers have appeared in the Journal of Noncrystallized Solids and the Journal of Luminescence.

Wei-Jen Chang, associate professor of biology, joined the Hamilton faculty in 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree from National Taiwan University and his master’s and Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo.

During his postdoctoral work at Princeton University Chang studied gene evolution and genome organization in unicellular organisms. He has written or co-written several professional articles in Gene, Protist, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This year he published “Molecular Genetic Diversity and Characterization of Conjugation Genes in the Fish Parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis” in the May issue of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. It was co-authored by six Hamilton students and recent graduates.

Brett Hull is in his 24th season as head coach of the Hamilton College men’s cross country and track & field programs. He has guided 98 indoor and outdoor individual conference champions while at Hamilton. A total of 34 school indoor and outdoor records have been broken or tied since Hull's first season in 1992.

Hull is a USATF Level I and Level II certified coach. He has developed 16 All-Americans, including national champions in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 meters, the mile and the steeplechase. Hull was the head cross country and track & field coach at SUNY Cortland and SUNY Plattsburgh before he arrived at Hamilton. He was named the SUNYAC Coach of the Year while at Cortland in 1985-86.

Hull received bachelor's and master's degrees from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

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