First 4 McCausland Faculty Fellows named

English professor Catherine Keyser has studied with a lauded playwright and seen her own plays produced. She is working on her second book, this one looking at how food appears in early 20th century American literature. But what gets her up in the morning is something she learned as a teaching assistant at Harvard.

“I realized what a dynamic, exciting and gratifying process it was to be in the classroom, to connect with individual students,” said Keyser, one of the inaugural McCausland Faculty Fellows at USC.

The fellowships are being funded by a $10 million endowment – a gift from USC alumnus Peter McCausland (’71), chairman and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania-based Airgas Inc., and his wife, Bonnie.

The fellowships reward young faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences for excellence in teaching and research. The endowment also will be used to create a visiting scholars program and encourage other imaginative teaching and research projects.

“Something like the McCausland Fellowship says that the university recognizes the importance of this kind of critical inquiry and the importance of teaching for our undergraduates — and that means a great deal to me,” says Keyser,an English professor who wants her students to see the world from different perspectives and have fun while learning.

For history professor Joseph November, the McCausland Fellowship stipend will allow him to do additional interviews for the book he is researching.

“The computing pioneers are aging, and if I don’t catch them now, I may lose the opportunity to interview them,” says November, whose varied fields of interest have informed his classes, which include Computer Games and History, History of Medicine in America and Science and Technology in World History.

Marine sciences professor Blaine Griffen wants his students come out of his classes seeing the world a little bit differently than they did coming in.

“I want them to understand the connections between our actions and resulting issues in the environment and understand the responsibility that we have to address these issues,” Griffen says. “As college students, they are making the transition into society where they are going to need to be contributors to solving the problems that the world faces.”

Being named a McCausland Fellow has inspired Hunter Gardner, who remembers her own struggles to learn Latin, “to try to freshen up my teaching, to think about asking new questions in my classes that I haven’t been asking in the past.”

It is precisely that innovation that McCausland, a graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences, hopes to foster with his donation.

“The University of South Carolina was a perfect fit for me. I felt that I was safe to be myself and to try new things,” McCausland said in announcing the gift. “More than anything else, I remember the professors in the College of Arts and Sciences. They were such good teachers, so inspiring and so passionate about their work.”

Nearly half of the $10 million gift will be used for the McCausland Faculty Fellows Program, which will ultimately offer 20 fellowships to outstanding faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences who are within 10 years of earning their doctoral degrees. Those chosen as fellows must demonstrate leadership in their academic field and a strong commitment to teaching.

Further reading

The fellowships are being funded by a $10 million gift from alumnus Peter McCausland. See how you can help reward our talented faculty through Carolina’s Promise.

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