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Four Faculty Receive Tenure

Four faculty members were awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor at the June 2007 Board of Trustees meeting -- Ryohei Matsuda, modern languages (Japanese), James Mountjoy, biology, Robin Ragan, modern languages (Spanish), and Jennifer Templeton, biology.

Matsuda received his bachelor's degree from Tokyo University of Education, his master's in arts and master's education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his doctorate from Indiana University. He joined the Knox faculty in 1998 as an advanced graduate student. Through Matsuda's leadership, Knox has built a robust Japanese language program.

Mountjoy joined the Knox faculty in 2000, accepting a shared appointment with Templeton. He received his bachelor's degree at the University of Guelph-Ontario, his master's degree at Queens University, and his doctorate at McGill University. Mountjoy is a field biologist who researches sexual selection among birds.

Ragan came to Knox in 2000 as an advanced graduate student and completed her doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she also received her bachelor's and master's degrees, within her first year at Knox. She teaches Spanish literature and film and has directed Knox programs in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

Templeton also joined the Knox faculty in 2000, sharing an appointment with Mountjoy, with whom she co-directed the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's study abroad program in Tanzania in 2003. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees at Queens University and her Ph.D. at Concordia University in Montreal. Templeton researches behavior ecology and social learning in non-human animals.

Knox Magazine had the opportunity to ask each of the tenure recipients a few questions about Knox, their research, and their life outside of the classroom.

Ryohei Matsuda
James Mountjoy
Robin Ragan
Jennifer Templeton

Ryohei Matsuda
Why Knox?
I am meant to be here. That's what my mentors said. I love to eat out with students.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
There are two: one is when I received a teaching award (Philip Green Wright-Lombard Prize) in three years as a non-tenure line professor. I was caught off guard, because I simply believed it would be given only to tenure-line faculty. The other is when Knox changed my position into tenure-track overnight when I told them that I had to look for another job somewhere.

Please describe your current research? What is most interesting about this research?
I am interested in how the Japanese government is helping develop education in less-advanced countries through international collaboration.

If you weren't a professor, you would be a . . . ?
A confectionery chef or a Miyagi Sensei, among many others.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
Friendly but nosy neighbors.

What were the last three books you read?
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout; The Bell by Iris Murdoch; A Man, A Can, A Grill: 50 No-Sweat Meals You Can Fire Up Fast by David Joachim.

What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
I went to the park with my friends, Riki and Lucy, and had steak together.

James Mountjoy
Why Knox?
Aside from the obvious qualities of Knox that everyone knows, the College's openness to hiring academic couples and the very reasonable approach to job shares was a huge plus. Also, the Green Oaks Field Station is a great place for me to do research, as well as an excellent place to go birding and to explore nature.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
We started off as visiting professors, so the day that we were offered tenure track jobs here was pretty memorable. But moments later, we were asked if we would like to go to Tanzania on a faculty development trip with some other Knox faculty. Since visiting East Africa has been a dream since childhood, the combination of offers was almost too good to be true!

Please describe your current research? What is most interesting about this research?
I am interested in sexual selection, and the main focus of my research is on how variation in bird song can signal the quality of the singer. I have previously studied European Starlings and found that males keep learning new sounds each year (unlike many bird species), and the most complex songs are sung by older males in good condition. When I came to Knox, I started studying Indigo Buntings, a bird with a simpler song that was thought to be pretty much fixed throughout life. In fact, my students and I have found that older buntings do add some new sounds to the end of their songs, and that birds in good condition sing longer songs. When you start to see patterns like this in quite different species, it makes you think you are really starting to understand some small part of how the world functions, and that is deeply satisfying.

If you weren?t a professor, you would be a . . . ?
A park naturalist is one possibility.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
It is farther south than Canada. (I HATE winter.)

What were the last three books you read?
Bob Hellenga?s The Fall of a Sparrow, Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow (I didn't teach FP this fall, but heard a lot about the book), and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
Dinner at Chez Willy's (without worrying about the bill) was the first step. I am sure the celebration will be continuing for a while.

Robin Ragan
Why Knox?
Because Knox let's me do all of the things I most want out of life. Knox encourages quality teaching and research. Knox constantly offers opportunities to attend workshops, symposiums, or conferences to continually educate ourselves. Moreover, Knox has generous research and parental leave policies, which demonstrates that they value all sides of a person. I love the sense of community fostered at Knox through potluck gatherings, faculty-staff intramural sports, and the traditional providing of meals for those who have had a baby or surgery.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
I would have to say they have been "off campus" with my students in Spain and Argentina. I'll never forget a snowball fight we had in the Andes after a rough ride up the side of a mountain in a huge jeep, a flat tire, and getting stuck in the mud, nor will I forget running after the fire devils in Spain during a festival, shrieking and laughing through the crowded streets.

Please describe your current research? What is most interesting about this research?
My current research is on Spanish film. I am especially fascinated by how Spain is reworking definitions of family and fidelity. I see young directors challenging our understanding of who constitutes family and what rules govern intimate relationships. Friends, neighbors, and community members are often substitute family members, either because they are better at meeting our individual needs or because biological family members are absent or even harmful.

If you weren?t a professor, you would be a . . . ?
I would be a midwife. As an undergrad, I worked in hospitals and my step mom was a labor and delivery nurse. Some of my dissertation research was on midwives in Spain, and their struggle for official recognition in the face of a burgeoning obstetrics and gynecology profession. I currently volunteer interpret for women in Galesburg and Monmouth who need help with their prenatal visits and delivery.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
The houses, Seminary Street, and the interconnectedness of the community.

What were the last three books you read?
I am re-reading Julio Cortzar's Rayuela (Hopscotch) now. I read it as an undergrad and have always wanted to get back to it. I just finished Susan Bordo's The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and Private. From cover to cover, I couldn't put it down. The book is written by an academic but not with all the elitist vocabulary typical of this type of book. She intersperses her personal experiences with men and her father with sociological data and media portrayals of men. Finally, much of what I read is directly related to the courses I'm teaching. For my course on Spanish youth, I read Guapos y Pobres, which consists of interviews with young people in Spain today, with particular focus on their level of happiness, autonomy, and economic status.

What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
I celebrated with wine and friends . . . how else?

Jennifer Templeton
Why Knox?
After being a visiting professor at Bowdoin College in Maine and Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, I knew I wanted to work at a small, private college that had bright students, as well as the opportunity to carry out research and to involve students in that research. I also wanted to work at a college that was supportive of academic couples. I found all this, plus a great community of friends, at Knox.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
Not really a moment, and not really at Knox . . . traveling to Tanzania with other Knox professors as part of a global studies program in 2003. We got to know each other really well while on safari, camping amongst the lions and elephants. A hyena even stole Laura Lane's leather sandals from outside her tent!

Please describe your current research? What is most interesting about this research?
One area of my research is the study of lateralization in avian brains. Lateralization is the specialization of each hemisphere for particular skills, such as visual discrimination abilities and spatial memory. Birds are excellent animals for the study of lateralization because information entering each eye goes to the opposite brain hemisphere. This means that you can study lateralization simply by covering one of the bird's eyes. What is most interesting about this is that if a bird learns something using one eye (say, where it just hid a piece of food), it is completely unable to find the food if it uses the other eye!

If you weren't a professor, you would be a . . . ?
Scientific illustrator, perhaps.

What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
Seminary Street/Landmark Café.

What were the last three books you read?
Bob Hellenga's The Sixteen Pleasures and Philosophy Made Simple and The History of Love by Nicole Kraus