Strom Thacker, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union College
The Byron A. Nichols Fellowship for Faculty Development:
During a teaching career spanning 40 years at Union College (1968-2008), Professor of Political Science Emeritus Byron Nichols taught students how to think by making them think. He promoted and engaged in meaningful intellectual, social and personal interactions with students both in and out of the classroom, helping them to recognize and actualize their potential for growth in all aspects of their lives. His approach to the development of students was always rigorous, intellectual, humanistic and compassionate.
In honor of Byron’s distinguished career, Susan Mullaney Maycock ’72 and her husband Alan Maycock, former Professor of Chemistry at Union, established The Byron A. Nichols Fellowship for Faculty Development with a generous lead gift and support from over 100 of Byron’s former students, colleagues, and friends. The rotating 2-3 year fellowship supports faculty members who are committed to broadening their teaching and mentoring skills by undertaking activities that contribute to the intellectual, social, and personal development of students. Consideration for the fellowship is given to recently promoted associate professors who demonstrate a commitment to Union’s academic community, to developing students, and to fostering positive change within the College. An advisory committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Dean of the Faculty who makes the final selection.
Associate Professor of English
Professor Murphy will use the fellowship to design a new course, “The Theory of Things: Objects, Emotions and Ideas,” which will examine humanity’s interest in material culture and the emotional connections that can be made between people and physical objects. According to material culture studies, everyday objects become things when they are misused or exploited, cease to function, or no longer fulfill their original purpose. This course will explore both material and immaterial “things” and how “things” affect people, predominantly marginalized individuals and groups.
This course will ask students to analyze historical discussions of the effects of material culture through a variety of classics and contemporary readings by Karl Marx, George Santayana, Elisabeth Morris, Martin Heidegger, Jean Baudrillard, Bill Brown, Lorraine Daston and Arjun Appadurai. Professor Murphy seeks to have students not only consider tangible objects but move beyond the consideration of the material in order to explore the intangible things that physical objects generate. For instance, human beings desire and value materials things, and in most Western cultures, much emphasis is placed on acquiring objects. While the objects themselves do not create problems, the value individuals place on things may have adverse consequences, particularly for those who do not have the economics means to acquire objects or who are themselves viewed as objects. Indeed, the “desire” to own something and the “value” that is placed on an object are themselves intangible “things” that produce other intangible things – greed, envy, arrogance, violence, deceit, and insecurity, to name a few. Professor Murphy will use lectures, field trips, joint publication, panel discussion and debate, written assignment, guest speakers and independent study research as a final project to help students explore these ideas.
This course is planned to be taught in Spring 2018.
With a lead gift from Susan and Alan Maycock and gifts and pledges from more than 100 of Byron Nichols’s friends, colleagues and former students, approximately $830,000 has been raised to date to celebrate Byron’s legacy at Union College. Please consider a gift to help us achieve our goal of $1 million in order to endow the fellowship fund in perpetuity and to continue to honor Byron’s passion for engaging students in discussion and debate on important issues of our time.
For over 40 years, Byron Nichols honed his students’ capacity to explore what they believe, and why, and to defend their positions with intellect and a set of guiding principles. Throughout our decades-long friendship with Byron, he challenged us to explore new ideas and examine the moral dilemmas we faced personally and professionally, just as he did with students throughout his teaching career. He helped shape many lives, and his impact has been profound. Please join us in contributing to the Nichols Fellowship as a way of honoring the qualities of teaching and mentoring that Byron cultivated at Union. As this endowed fund grows, so, too, will fellowship opportunities and professional development activities that will shape how Union educates and engages students on the important issues of our time. Your gift will have an immediate and lifelong impact on our students and on the faculty who inspire them.
– Susan Mullaney Maycock ’72 and Alan Maycock, Professor of Chemistry (1968-1972)
The Nichols Fun has captured the imagination of the College and created an ever-increasing opportunity for growth and development among faculty and students. Nichols Fellows come from a cross-section of disciplines, and each has developed an exciting course that fosters curiosity, engagement, and ethical inquiry in a rigorous and compassionate classroom setting, just as Professor Nichols did for 40 years.
– Strom Thacker, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Union College
If you are interested in learning more about the Fellowship or would like to contribute to the fund, please contact:
Bo Pedersen Geel
Coordinator of Donor Relations
Office of College Relations