Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 11:30 am


This spring, the Grinnell College Board of Trustees announced the promotion of faculty members to new ranks for the 2010-11 academic year:

• Promoted to full professor: Vicki Bentley-Condit (anthropology); Katya Gibel Mevorach (anthropology); Kathleen Skerrett (religious studies); and Susan Strauber (art).

• Promoted to associate professor with tenure: Jennifer Williams Brown (music); Monessa Cummins (classics); Karla Erickson (sociology); Astrid Henry (gender, women’s and sexuality studies); Tammy Nyden (philosophy); Elizabeth Prevost (history); Sujeev Wickramasekara (physics); and Shawn Womack (theatre and dance).

• Promoted to associate professor: Phillip Jones (library).

• Moving from active teaching to senior faculty status: Kent McClelland (sociology) and Edward Phillips (classics).

• Moving from senior faculty status to professor emeritus: Douglas Caulkins (anthropology); Gerald Lalonde (classics); and Dennis Perri (Spanish).

Background information:

Jennifer Williams Brown, associate professor of music. B.Mus., University of Illinois; M.A., Ph.D., Cornell University.

Brown, who teaches music history and directs Collegium Musicum, joined the music department in 2005 with previous teaching at Louisiana State University, the University of Rochester, and the Eastman School of Music. She is one of the leading musicologists in the field of 17th-century Baroque opera. In 2008, her edition of Francesco Cavalli’s “La Calisto” won the Claude V. Palisca Award, one of the highest honors given by the American Musicological Society. In addition to her teaching, Brown is regularly invited to serve as a peer reviewer of scholarly manuscripts and grant applications. She has also served on the off-campus study board and as co-leader of the early-career faculty group.

Monessa Cummins, associate professor of classics. B.A., Wichita State University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Cincinnati.

Cummins accepted a tenure-track appointment in the classics department in 2005, after teaching a full range of courses in ancient literature, history, archaeology, and art on a part-time or replacement basis for many years. In addition to her teaching and publications on the ancient Greek poet, Pindar, Cummins has served on the admission board and the curriculum committee. The 2008 graduating class honored her with an invitation to deliver their baccalaureate address.

Karla A. Erickson, associate professor of sociology. B.S., Illinois Wesleyan University; M.A., Hamline University; Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

Erickson began teaching in the sociology department in 2004 after completing her doctorate at the University of Minnesota. In 2009, she published “The Hungry Cowboy: Selling Service and Community in a Neighborhood Restaurant,” a behind-the-scenes look at the dynamics of class, race, and community. Erickson is conducting research for two new projects: a local project with nurses’ aides and other end of life workers; and a collaboration book project on privilege and professional perseverance in law schools. These research interests carry into local service on the ethics committee of a retirement and hospice-care community and the board of Grinnell Regional Medical Center.

Astrid Henry, associate professor of gender, women’s and sexuality studies. B.A., Sarah Lawrence College; M.A., New School for Social Research; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In 2008, Henry came to Grinnell to teach gender and women’s studies and English, after teaching at St. Mary’s College where she also served as director of the women’s studies program. She is the author of “Not My Mother’s Sister: Generational Conflict and Third Wave Feminism,” a recognized text in women’s studies curricula. Henry helped to design the structure for the new gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major and served on the Center for the Humanities advisory board. Since 2006, she has been a member of the governing board of the National Women’s Studies Association, currently serving as secretary.

Tammy Nyden, associate professor of philosophy. B.A., University of Nevada-Las Vegas; M.A., Baylor University; Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University.

Since coming to Grinnell in 2005, Nyden has taught a full range of philosophy courses. Last fall, she and a faculty colleague team-taught an interdisciplinary course called “Space, Time, and Motion,” which included her research interest in the history of science. In 2007, she published “Spinoza’s Radical Cartesian Mind.” Nyden has served on the ad hoc faculty governance committee, humanities core committee, Expanding Knowledge Initiative advisory board, neuroscience concentration committee, scholarship selection committee, and the ad hoc ombuds committee.

Elizabeth E. Prevost, associate professor of history. B.A., Trinity College; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University.

Prevost, who came to Grinnell in 2004, teaches British history, the history of the Empire, and African history, from the introductory level to advanced seminars. Oxford University Press recently published her book “The Communion of Women: Missions and Gender in Colonial Africa and the British Metropole.” Prevost’s record of service to the college includes involvement with delegations sponsored by the Center for International Studies, service as faculty advisor for several off-campus study programs, on the curriculum committee, and the ad hoc task force on certification in the liberal arts for incarcerated students.

Sujeev Wickramasekara, associate professor of physics. B.S., University of Southern California; Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin.

A theoretical physicist, Wickramasekara teaches courses at all levels of the curriculum. Prior to his arrival at Grinnell, he held postdoctoral positions at the University of Texas, Austin and Rice University. His scholarly productivity includes publication of 35 articles, many in first-class, peer-reviewed journals, and numerous lectures at conferences and universities in the U.S., Poland, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Italy, and Austria. Wickramasekara has served on the technology concentration committee and the scholarship selection committee and coordinated the department’s weekly seminar series.

Shawn Womack, associate professor of theatre and dance. B.F.A., University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; M.F.A., University of California-Riverside.

Womack came to Grinnell in 2003, after holding previous positions at Wright State University, Ohio State University, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In addition to teaching choreography and directing the college’s dance company, Womack has taught introductory and advanced courses in theatre. Her choreography has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of California, and the Ohio and Iowa Arts Councils. Service to the college includes participation in the liberal arts in prison program, the Center for the Humanities and interdisciplinary studies advisory boards, and the public events committee. She is a founding board member of Studio 6, the after-school arts program in the Grinnell schools, and has served as a panelist for the Iowa Arts Council’s grants program.