Three young scholars who are considered rising stars at the University of South Carolina and in academia have been named 2015 McCausland Fellows in recognition for their research and imaginative teaching.
The College of Arts and Sciences has honored Shauna Cooper, an associate professor of psychology; Gretchen Woertendyke, an associate professor of English; and Michael Hill, an associate professor of Chinese and comparative literature and director of the Center for Asian Studies in the Walker Institute for International and Area Studies.
The McCausland Fellowships were created as part of a $10 million gift from UofSC alumnus Peter McCausland(’71)and his wife Bonnie in 2013 as a way of retaining and cultivating scholars who are leaders in their academic field and are committed and creative teachers.Fellows must be within 10 years of earning their doctoral degrees.
“It means quite a lot. Much of the work we do is unrecognized so this honor is especially sweet,” Woertendyke says. “And it illustrates the university’s commitment to the humanities, which is incredibly important to me as a teacher, scholar and parent.”
Woertendyke’s first book will soon be published by Oxford University Press. Titled, “Hemispheric Regionalism:Romance and the Geography of Genre,” it takes a fresh look at the U.S. literary landscape, bringing together a rich archive of popular culture, fugitive slave narratives, advertisements, political treatises and literature to construct anew literary history through the geographic lens of the world’s hemispheres.
In addition to writing a book and numerous journal articles on Chinese literature and culture, Hill translates books, including one by Wang Hui, one of China’s well-known public intellectuals, for Harvard University Press.
Hill says the McCausland Fellowship will help him have greater impact as a scholar.
“I want to contribute to how we understand China and its relations with the rest of the world. Now that China plays such a prominent role in the world, I think it’s important to move beyond the China-and-the-West model to understand different sets of relationships,”Hill says. “With that in mind, over the past few years I have begun to focus on the history of the cultural and political connections between China and the Middle East.”
Hill’s new research direction has him working on learning to read Arabic.
Cooper, whose research focuses on African American adolescents and families, is driven by her passion to teach and mentor students in her research lab.
“As a professor, I am committed to providing a learning context where students gain mastery of psychological processes as well as the ability to translate that knowledge into their everyday lives,” Cooper says. “I want to train the next generation of leaders –leaders who think critically about social issues and develop action-oriented solutions.”
She is conducting a longitudinal study of African American fathers’ parenting practices and the impact they have on adolescent adjustment. It is funded by the National Science Foundation. Her goal is to understand the circumstances in which children and teenagers develop and thrive. Her findings have been published in a variety of scientific journals.
The McCausland Faculty Fellows Program will offer 20 fellowships. Cooper, Hill and Woertendyke join eight fellows who were named in 2013 and 2014. The McCauslands are longtime supporters of higher education. They helped fund UofSC’s McCausland Center for Brain Imaging, which was dedicated in 2006.