Macalester celebrates newly tenured faculty and previous year’s tenure awardees

Macalester celebrates newly tenured faculty and previous years tenure awardees

Talia Bank, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 1, Provost Lisa Anderson-Levy and the Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching held a celebration in the Olin-Rice Smail Gallery to recognize six newly tenured professors: Erika Busse-Cárdenas, Amy Elkins, Jessica Pearson, Katrina Phillips, Megan Vossler and Leah Witus.  

The event also recognized last year’s cohort of tenured professors who could not be celebrated with an in-person event due to COVID-19, including Samuel Asarnow, Dennis Cao, I-Chun Catherine Chang, Penelope Geng, Bret Jackson and Lisa Mueller. 

For Witus, a chemistry professor, Macalester stood out as a school that centers student input and involvement, making a long-term position at the college especially appealing. She joined the Macalester faculty in 2015 and began a tenure-track position the following year. 

“When I was interviewing, I was really impressed with the students,” Witus said. “Macalester was one of the few schools where students were on the search committee. That stood out to me and I was so excited to work with them.” 

Since then, she has worked closely with students on research projects and continues to emphasize collaborative opportunities. 

Along with the bagpipe performance that traditionally accompanies tenure announcements on campus, Witus was also surprised with a visit from her parents who live in Michigan. 

“I was so happy to get tenure and be able to celebrate it with my parents, my kids, everyone in Olin-Rice, all my supportive colleagues — it just made it so special,” Witus said. 

Busse-Cárdenas, a sociology professor, also found Macalester unique because of the enthusiasm and curiosity within the student body. As someone looking to experiment in the classroom and find new ways to teach, Busse-Cárdenas found a willing and eager crowd among Macalester students. 

“I love working with students and Mac allows me to do and try new things all the time,” Busse-Cárdenas said. “Every semester I change how and what I teach, which I love. Students, for the most part, are game; they are always very inquisitive and want to explore new things.”

Busse-Cárdenas joined Macalester in 2017, leaving a previous teaching position at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru. With family in Minneapolis and Lima, she had traveled often between the two cities prior to taking a tenure-track position at Macalester. 

Anderson-Levy led the celebration of tenured faculty, toasting to the previous year’s tenure awardees and introducing the newly tenured professors with brief biographies and quotes from students who had been positively influenced by their teaching. 

“We are here to celebrate our newly tenured colleagues in-person this year, which feels like its own celebration,” Anderson-Levy said. “[I want to make] a toast to these genius colleagues; welcome to the ranks of the tenured.” 

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