Getting to know the faculty

By Sean Ryan

Five new tenure-track professors joined the Macalester faculty this year, bringing with them a wide range of academic interests, teaching experiences and previous occupations. They include a medical geographer, an alumnus of Teach for America, an expert in Japanese visual culture, a Harvard glee club member with an affinity for chemistry and a former guest conductor of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. Eric D. Carter, the inaugural holder of the Edens Professorship in Global Health, studies the political and scientific ramifications of vector-borne diseases like malaria. After five years teaching anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa, Carter’s move to St. Paul heralds a number of personal and professional changes. “I’m excited to be surrounded by maps again,” Carter said. “Geography, for whatever reason, has always been fairly wide-ranging and tolerant when it comes to method. We’re a big tent, with room for lots of different research approaches. And as a result, I think we’re trained to integrate ideas from many fields.” Carter’s interest not only stems from his new position at Macalester, but also his new home in the Twin Cities. “It’s also great to be back in a big city, one with so many interesting neighborhoods, a rich history and so many places to interact with nature,” he said. “[My family and I] arrived in mid-June and didn’t leave the city for three months. We called it our Twin Cities summer stay-cation.” Lesley Lavery, who previously worked as a Teach for America corps member in San Diego and educational consultant at the Center for Education Data and Research in Seattle, joined the political science department as an expert in the policy feedback cycle. She hopes to expand course offerings in public policy by connecting their content to real-world events, a task she believes is especially important during a presidential election year. “Traditionally, most political scientists study political participation and government institutions from the perspective that mass participation influences the behavior of institutional actors and thus shapes public policy,” Lavery said. “My research begins with policy. I ask how a particular policy or set of policies might hinder or encourage the future political participation of various individuals and target groups.” Mark Mandarano, the new Director of Instrumental Activities, has an extensive conducting background that spans continents, ensembles, and educational institutions. This year he will lead the Macalester Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble while also teaching musical theory courses in form and analysis, which are heavily influenced by his practical experience as a performer. “In a classroom, we spend a great deal of time analyzing the printed page, which is necessary in order to deepen our understanding,” Mandarano said. “But, the mystery of music is that it is sound that travels through the air and comes alive in duration – a combination that moves and consoles and excites us all, from babies to teens to the elderly. The intention of my pedagogy is always to start from, and return to, this magic.” Michael McGaghie, the Director of Choral Activities, is another new addition to the music department. McGaghie, who is responsible for leading the Macalester Concert Choir and Highland Camerata, comes to Macalester with previous experience as the Director of Choral Activities at The Boston Conservatory, Assistant Conductor of the Harvard Glee Club and music director of the Concord Chorus. He has led a variety of ensemble tours around the United States and conducted world premieres by renowned choral composers Dominick Argento and Tarik O’Regan. Although McGaghie will not teach any courses this semester, he is looking forward to developing classes focused on Renaissance and Baroque performance practices, sectarian music and music criticism. “It’s really fun to brainstorm what crazy things I could teach here,” McGaghie said. “The possibilities are endless.” McGaghie’s education spans other disciplines, too. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate and taught it for a short while after college. “My experience teaching science is only slightly different from choir,” McGaghie said. “Both require attention to the individual needs of students in order to discover their strengths.” Finally, Kari Stephensen-Scott comes to Macalester from her graduate studies at Duke University, where she extensively researched representations of nationalism and empire in Japanese visual culture. While studying with Duke, Stephensen-Scott spent time in Japan as a Fulbright scholar. Several of these professors expressed interest in collaborative work amongst faculty and students, emphasizing the importance of close relationships amongst all members of the college community. “What can we achieve together?” Mandarano asked. “What can we discover? Where can we take ourselves musically, intellectually, emotionally?” “I’m excited to get to know my colleagues – and students – better,” McGaghie said. “I feel like the luckiest professor in the universe to come into this space right now.” refresh –>