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Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

“Great Hires,” Despite
  Tough Economic Outlook

Despite a tough economic climate marked by deep budget cuts and a university-wide hiring freeze, Arts and Sciences welcomed a half-dozen new faculty members to the Homewood campus this fall. They were hired using a number of creative measures, including delayed start dates and provost initiatives designed to increase faculty diversity.

"Even with all of the challenges we've faced this year due to the economy, we've managed to get some great hires this year," says David Bell, dean of faculty in Arts and Sciences.

And because the university made tough preemptive cuts last year, the School of Arts and Sciences is in better shape than many of its peer institutions, Bell says. As a result, Arts and Sciences will be able to resume faculty searches that had been suspended. "We feel like we've ridden out the worst of the recession, and as long there is not another downturn, we can move forward very strongly now."

Among the notable hires this year are three new assistant professors in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who will be critical to the development of the department's Global Change Science Initiative. The initiative includes the new undergraduate Global Environmental Change and Sustainability major that launched this fall. Assistant professor Naomi E. Levin's research centers on understanding how terrestrial landscapes and organisms respond to past climate change. Her colleague Benjamin Passey studies the history of, and interrelationships among, the Earth's climate, ecology, and geochemistry. And new assistant professor Benjamin Zaitchik comes to Hopkins from the U.S. Department of State, where he specialized in climate change issues in the Office of Global Change. He is interested in understanding, managing, and coping with climatic and hydrologic variability.

Another major development for the school is the hiring of Yuki Johnson as director of the Language Teaching Center. Johnson comes to Hopkins from the University of Toronto, where she was an associate professor of Japanese linguistics and undergraduate program coordinator in the Department of East Asian Studies. She has also served as director of the Japanese Language Program at the University of Michigan and the University of British Columbia and worked successfully to modernize teaching methodologies at these institutions. "Dr. Johnson has terrific credentials," Bell says. "She's coming in to expand our abilities to teach foreign languages and to make sure that we take advantage of the most up-to-date and effective techniques for teaching languages."

Johnson, who is experienced in both the practice and the theory of teaching language, describes her teaching philosophy as "eclectic." "A teacher has to be open-minded and not stick to one single teaching method," she says. "Depending on your students, you have to use various teaching approaches."

Other new faculty hires for the 2009-2010 academic year include:

Juan M. Obarrio, who joins the Department of Anthropology as an assistant professor and will teach in the areas of legal and political anthropology, as well as on exchange and value. Obarrio, who spent two years as a visiting professor before becoming an assistant professor, will be active within Africana and Latin American studies.

Kyle Rawlins, who joins the Department of Cognitive Science as a visiting assistant professor and will become an assistant professor in the department in 2010. Rawlins' areas of research are formal semantics, pragmatics, syntax, and the interfaces of these fields.

Mark Christian Thompson, a new associate professor of English whose research interests include African-American literature of the early 20th century, political theory, and critical theory and German literature of the 20th century.

Jesse Rosenthal, who will join the faculty in 2010 as an assistant professor of English following his completion of a postdoctoral fellowship in the department. His research interests include a consideration of the literary categories of the "dated" and "timeless" and the applications of computer-aided quantitative methods to literary analysis.

In addition, the School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the following faculty promotions:

Department of Chemistry: David P. Goldberg to professor; Justine P. Roth to associate professor with tenure.

Department of Philosophy: Dean Moyar to associate professor with tenure.

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences: Susan Courtney to professor.

Department of Sociology: Stefanie A. DeLuca to associate professor with tenure; Stephen B. Plank to associate professor.