Middlebury

Middlebury board of trustees approves promotions for faculty members

May 28, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Three members of the Middlebury College faculty have been promoted from assistant professor to the rank of associate professor without limit of tenure: Noah Graham of the Physics Department; Bert Johnson from the Department of Political Science; and Amy Morsman of the History Department.

The board of trustees, at its meeting on May 6, accepted the recommendations of President Ronald D. Liebowitz and the board's educational affairs committee in promoting the three faculty members. Their promotions take effect July 1, 2009.


Noah Graham (Physics) joined the Middlebury faculty in 2002. He received his A.B. in mathematics and physics from Harvard University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999. Since arriving at Middlebury, he has gained the respect of colleagues and students as an outstanding teacher and scientist, and students routinely praise him for his ability to explain complex physical phenomena in clear, simple terms. In teaching a wide range of physics courses, from a first-year seminar to an upper-level course on quantum mechanics, and by including students in his research efforts and published papers, he has demonstrated a commitment to liberal arts learning at all levels.

Through his research on solitons, the Casimir effect, and related questions, Graham has earned national and international recognition as a leader in theoretical physics. Colleagues at Middlebury and beyond praise the quality and quantity of the papers he has published, on his own and with collaborators, often in such highly regarded journals as the Physics Review Letter. In recognition of his scientific work, he has been appointed to the Kalvi Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has also contributed to the College through service on Community Council and the faculty advisory board for Middlebury's school in the Middle East-and by helping to organize the annual "Hunt" on campus.

Bert Johnson (Political Science) joined the Middlebury faculty in 2004. He received his B.A. from Carleton College in 1994 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2003. He has made his mark as a teacher of wide-ranging expertise, a political scientist who is as comfortable at the lectern as in the seminar room. Students and colleagues praise his ability to engage political issues at the theoretical, historical, and statistical levels. Whether leading a discussion on the Federalist Papers or interpreting voting patterns in a Wisconsin township, he remains committed to teaching students how to analyze and understand American politics.

His scholarly contributions include studies of local politics and broad surveys of American political life. Articles published in the Social Science History and the Urban Affairs Review are viewed as important contributions to the study of local politics, while his work on The New American Democracy and America's New Democracy textbooks highlights his ability to explain the dynamics of American politics to a broader audience. His research on state and local politics and campaign finance represents a serious commitment to understanding how American politics works. He has also served the College through his work on the Community Judicial Board and as faculty advisor for the Truman Scholarship.

Amy Morsman (History) began teaching at Middlebury in 2001. She received her B.A. from Wake Forest in 1993, and her M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Virginia. Colleagues describe her as committed to helping students understand the fundamental methods of inquiry and moral questions that animate the study of history. Students note her wide-ranging knowledge of American history, and praise the care she takes in challenging their thinking and improving their writing skills. Students of all sorts, whether they major in history or chemistry, recognize her as an inspirational and supportive mentor and point specifically to the critical and positive impact she has had as an advisor for senior theses.

As an historian, Morsman has made an important contribution to the study of the post-Civil War South. Her forthcoming book, The Big House After Slavery, explores how elite Virginia families responded to the economic, social, and political changes brought on by the collapse of slavery, examines a series of previously well-examined topics in an original manner. Her next research project, focusing on the life histories of Northern white women who migrated south to teach emancipated slaves, promises a richly contextualized study of gender and race in the Reconstruction era. In addition to her work as a scholar and teacher, she has helped shape the curriculum in the History Department in significant ways, and has served the College well through her work on Faculty Council.

Also during this academic year, 13 associate professors were promoted to the rank of full professor. Promoted this spring were Pieter Broucke (History of Art & Architecture), Sandra Carletti (Italian), Andi Lloyd (Biology), Tom Moran (Chinese), Robert Prasch (Economics), Pete Ryan (Geology), and Bill Waldron (Religion). Promoted during the fall semester were Miguel Fernandez (Spanish), Peter Hamlin (Music), Barbara Hofer (Psychology), Will Nash (American Studies), Chuck Nunley (French), and Helen Young (Biology).