Working at Liberal Arts Colleges


How is being a tenure track faculty member at liberal arts colleges different from working at Research-1 institutions? What kinds of support do such institutions offer for research and scholarship? Many graduate students and postdocs who are exploring various options for their academic careers seek answers to these and other questions about teaching at liberal arts colleges. At least some liberal arts colleges feel like they are misunderstood--that most people erroneously perceive them to be institutions where the faculty only teach and no longer actively pursue research and scholarship. Even among those who do not hold this view, there are questions about whether and how faculty can balance the demands of being an effective teacher and productive scholar. Join a panel of faculty from liberal arts colleges both here in Illinois and in other parts of the country for a conversation about intellectual, social, and even personal life as a faculty member at these kinds of institutions.


Hank Allen, Professor of Sociology, Wheaton College (PhD Education 1988)

Henry (Hank) Allen is Professor of Sociology and Department Chair in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wheaton College (IL). Dr. Allen also held faculty positions at Bethel College (MN), Calvin College (MI), the Margaret S. Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester (NY), and the Behavioral Sciences Division at the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY). Throughout his career, Hank has published numerous research articles for the National Education Association about sociology, ethnicity, and academic work. Moreover, he has recently published articles on science and the future of higher education in the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. Dr. Allen’s major research interests include the sociology of science (science literacy), social networks, and mathematical sociology. Hank is a member of the International Sociology Association. Faculty Page

Karin Wimbley, Assistant Professor of English, Depauw University (PhD English 2012)

Karin Wimbley's teaching and research interests focus on African American cultural production across aesthetic registers and canons, most especially African American literature, film, and visual culture. The interdisciplinary nature of her scholarship and teaching includes the study of gender and sexuality; performance studies and material culture; American popular culture; critical race theory; and theories on representation, culture, and aesthetics. Faculty Page

Rodrigo Sanchez-Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, St. Olaf College (PhD Texas A&M Chemistry 2012)

Prof. Rodrigo Sanchez-Gonzalez joined St. Olaf College in August 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He completed his PhD in Chemistry at Texas A&M University in 2012, where he worked on the development of laser diagnostic techniques for the study of high-speed flows. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he contributed to the development and application of optical-based diagnostics to measure exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) distribution in prototype diesel engines using temporally resolved CO2 absorption measurements. He returned to Texas A&M University as a postdoctoral researcher, where he led efforts in projects funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research focused on novel laser-based diagnostics development, laser-grid turbulence characterization, and fundamental studies of turbulent boundary layers. He joined St. Olaf College where started the Non-Equilibrium and Laser Diagnostics Laboratory, focused on the study of fundamental energy transfer phenomena at low temperatures and the development of experimental methodologies and data analysis algorithms to study high-speed flows. LinkedIn

Mary James, Dean for Institutinoal Diversity, A.A. Knowlton Professor of Physics, Reed College (PhD Stanford Physics 1986)

Mary James is the Dean for Institutional Diversity and the A. A. Knowlton Professor of Physics at Reed College. Her principal areas of physics research have been in accelerator physics and astrophysics. As Dean, Professor James works across all college constituencies to design and implement practices and procedures to build a diverse faculty, staff, and student body and to create a campus climate in which community members from diverse backgrounds can work, learn, and grow in a supportive and inclusive environment. Professor James has served on and chaired the Committee on Minorities of the American Physical Society. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College. James received her B.A. in physics from Hampshire College and her Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. Faculty Page


Heather Keenleyside, Assistant Professor of English, UChicago

Faculty Page