"The Nichols Fund 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 for Academic Affairs, Union College

About

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.

Nichols Fellow 2018-2020

Erika Nelson-Mukherjee

Erika Nelson-Mukherjee
Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures

Professor Nelson-Mukherjee’s project is titled “The Salve of Stories: Creating Community through Shared Narrative Practices.” She will use the fellowship to develop a course that addresses the larger issues of death, dying, and human destruction.

Professor Nelson-Mukherjee proposes that it is through stories that we make sense of our lives, communicate our thoughts, express ideas, create a shared sense of purpose, experience community, and enable others to know more about our individual hopes, dreams, lives, insights, histories, backgrounds and cultures. The courage to share our stories of struggles and triumphs with care, authenticity, and vulnerability can help expand our empathy and understanding of others. Our willingness to enter into the still silent, unknown spaces of ourselves can give voice to our own unheard narratives and allow us to find commonality and imagine together something new. It might just prove to be a remedy we need for some of our social ills, a salve for our modern day souls. Rita Charon calls such an approach to communal stories “Narrative Medicine”. Along with her colleagues at Columbia University, she demonstrates and teach that the principles and practices of regular communal reading practices, personal reflective writing and the sharing of stories contribute to a good self-care and better health care for other people’s well-being.

The Nichols Fellowship will enable Professor Nelson-Mukherjee to engage students more deeply and meaningfully in Narrative Medicine’s practice of parallel chars by complementing the academic work she does with individual and communal reading, listening, and reflective writing practices as a means of strengthening the power of the individual voice and the presence of a compassionate, collaborative community. She will create a course, offered as a Modern Languages in Translation class on Narratives of Suffering and Healing, which would include works by German language authors Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Celan, Jenny Erpenbeck, Julia Franck, Doris Dorrie, and Herta Muller, whose works speak to these issues with great richness of description and insight. The fellowship also will support conference attendance with students at the University of Iowa, a conference at Union with filmmaker and author Doris Dörrie, and a joint paper with student participants in the University of Iowa’s The Examined Life Journal.

The course is planned to be taught in Winter 2019.

 

Support the Fellowship

Byron Nichols, Alan and Susan Maycock, and Inaugural Fellow Stephen Schmidt.

Byron Nichols, Alan and Susan Maycock, and Inaugural Fellow Stephen Schmidt (left to right).

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
geelb@union.edu
(518) 388-6532

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