Art History Department conducting search for new professor on Mellon grant

Thanks to a fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Wheaton College’s Art History Department is in the process of hiring a new professor, who will serve for two years. The professor’s expertise will be in the fields of Asian or Islamic art, as dictated by the fellowship.

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships are typically granted to aspiring professors who have just completed their doctorates. The fellow must teach for two years while continuing to conduct research, which generally means working on one or multiple publications. This is often fulfilled by postdoctoral candidates turning their dissertations into book manuscripts.

Ellen McBreen, Assistant Professor of Art History, is the chair of the committee assembled to hire the new professor. Though she heads the group, she stressed that the entire department (including students) oversees the selection process.

“We wanted to make sure that the students were posing their own questions to the candidates,” she explained. To that extent, groups of Art History students met with the prospective candidates for the post.

The selection process included reviewing the résumés of all applicants, as well as a series of interviews conducted in New York. After that, three individuals were chosen to visit Wheaton, where they have undergone a new set of interviews, taken campus tours and met with students. All of this, McBreen said, is to ensure that the new professor will be effective as an instructor that students want to work with, in addition to benefiting the college with his or her research.

The department will be careful to select a professor who will offer the students more variety in their courses of study. In general, the college is looking for a person who will provide a unique and capable contribution to the art community and to the Wheaton campus in general. “We’re really looking for someone who is a strong, solid educator,” said McBreen.

If you would like to have an input in the final choice, the last Mellon candidate, Halle O’Neal of Harvard University, will be on campus Friday, March 22 and will be giving a lecture entitled “‘The Universe in a Fingernail: Relics and Salvation in East Asia” at 4 p