When some of the faculty members new to Lafayette aren’t busy with getting ready for this semester, they’re forming trivia teams at Two Rivers Pub in Easton.
Professor of Economics Juan-Pedro Garces-Voisenat is one of the new professors arriving at Lafayette this fall. He’s also a new member of the new faculty members’ ‘Enfield Tennis Academy’ trivia team – a reference to the novel “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. In their first competition on Aug. 22, they won first place.
He plays on this team with several other new professors – members of the entering class of 20 new faculty hires this year, according to an email from Provost Abu Rizvi.
These new faculty members have a broad range of backgrounds and several have spent time all around the world.
International Affairs professor Caleb Gallemore, Garces’ trivia teammate, spent time doing his dissertation and field work in Indonesia. He is very excited to be at Lafayette, since he said the environment reminds him of his hometown, and he said the students in his class already seem engaged.
After having spent three years teaching at University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, history professor Christopher Lee is happy to now be teaching at a small liberal arts college, having attended Bowdoin College for his undergraduate education. Smaller schools offer opportunities not available at larger institutions, he said.
“For most of my career I’ve been at research universities, which there are advantages to, but it’s also very large,” Lee said. “So, I like the idea of coming to an undergraduate institution and teaching undergraduates. So in a sense, I’m sort of returning to my roots, because I gained a lot from being at a small school.”
Lee specializes in the history of Africa, having first visited at age 16 and forming a strong interest in the continent.
Two new hires at Lafayette this year came from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Film and Media Studies professor Katherine Groo and Philosophy professor Nathaniel Jezzi worked in Scotland for seven and six years, respectively, and both are excited by the intellectual curiosity and energy they already see in the Lafayette student body.
Groo found a common theme between her two offices in Scotland and Lafayette.
“My old office in Scotland used to be a brewery,” she wrote in an email. “My current office used to be a bar. I feel like the universe is sending me a message.” Groo’s office is in the 248 N. 3rd St. building.
According to Dean of Faculty Robin Rinehart, there was an unusually high amount of tenure-track faculty hired this year relative to previous years. Tenure-track positions made up twelve of the hires for this year. She attributed this spike to a high number of positions that had opened up due to retirements.
“The college had a retirement incentive several years ago, and so there were some professors who had retired, and so this was the year in which we were filling those positions in particular,” Rinehart said.
In the near future, Rinehart said, many more faculty will be hired with the College’s expansion plan. The process of hiring more will begin in the coming years, she added.