Five members of the Knox College faculty were awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor at the June 2009 Board of Trustees meeting -- Emily Anderson, English; Monica Berlin '95, English; Gina Franco, English; Jason Helfer, educational studies; and Jennifer Smith, dance. Knox Magazine had the opportunity to ask each newly-tenured faculty a few questions about Knox, their research, and their life outside the classroom.
Anderson received her bachelor's degree from Willamette University, her master's from Mills College, and her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Knox faculty in 2003. Her research centers on theories and histories of the 18th- and 19th-century novel and on the study of narrative in film and literature. In 2007, she won Knox's highest award for teaching-the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching.
Knox Magazine: Why Knox?
Anderson: I came to Knox because I had loved my own experience as a student at a small liberal-arts college. Now that I'm here, I can't imagine teaching anywhere else. Above all, I appreciate the sense of community, the opportunities, and the people.
Monica Berlin has been a member of the Knox English faculty since 1998. A 1995 graduate of Knox, Berlin earned an M.A. from Western Illinois University and an M.F.A. from Vermont College. She was awarded the 2003 Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching and the 2007 Young Alumni Achievement Award from Knox. Berlin has served as faculty advisor for Catch, Knox's award-winning student literary journal, and she has published poetry, as well as critical essays, about the teaching of creative writing.
Knox Magazine: What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
Berlin: On any given day, I'd answer this question differently. Today, though, my favorite memory is of standing in the back of The Common Room late this May while a poetry workshop, taught by one of my colleagues, gave their final reading. The visiting professor happened to be a student of mine some years ago. That evening, as I listened to her students present their final work, I was witness to something we don't often get to see: a demonstration of what this place makes possible in the future lives of our students, the foundation we help to build upon which their lives are lived.
Gina Franco has taught the writing of poetry and prose, as well as literature based on her research in 19th-century British Romanticism, at Knox since 2003. Her widely published poetry includes the collection The Keepsake Storm, and her poem "The Earth Without" won a special mention in the 2005 Pushcart Prize competition. Franco is a graduate of Smith College and earned M.A. and M.F.A. degrees at Cornell University.
Knox Magazine: What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
Franco: It is endlessly photographable. Some places aren't. I'm always out adventuring for art in Galesburg, and I find that I usually arrive someplace interesting and mysterious.
Jason Helfer joined the educational studies department in 2006, and he currently serves as co-chair of the department. His teaching areas include philosophy of education, ethnography, and the development of teaching identity. He and colleague Stephen Schroth are widely published and have
been instrumental in the development of Knox's revamped College for Kids program. A graduate of Millikin University, Helfer earned M.Mus. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Knox Magazine: Please describe your current research/creative work? What is most interesting about this work?
Helfer: Currently, Stephen Schroth and I are completing a series of studies on fine arts and gifted children and teacher preparation with first generation and/or minority students. What is most interesting about these projects is that they feed off one another. That is, neither project stands alone; both assist us in thinking about what we do as teachers and scholars.
Jennifer Smith directs the dance program at Knox College, where she has taught since 1997. In 2003, she won the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Award for Distinguished Teaching. Smith has choreographed and performed extensively in Chicago and at the American College Dance Festival, the Dancemakers Concert in Milwaukee, and the Festival Off in Avignon, France. She earned B.A. and M.A. degrees at Columbia College and an M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Knox Magazine: If you weren't a professor, you would be a . . . ?
Smith: I would be an adventure travel guide. I would be the person on the camel leading a group through the Valley of the Kings. Oddly enough, a location I went to when I celebrated getting hired at Knox.