Four Holy Cross Professors Recognized for Teaching, Scholarship and Service

November 2nd, 2012 by 

Left to right: Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies; Mary Conley, associate professor of history; Cristina Ballantine, associate professor of mathematics; and Robert Bertin, professor of biology. Image by John Buckingham

Four members of the College of the Holy Cross faculty have been honored with the Arthur J. O’Leary Faculty Recognition Award. These $12,000 honoraria are given each year by the Office of the Senior Vice President to senior faculty members who have made special contributions to Holy Cross through their teaching, scholarship and/or service. The O’Leary Awards are intended to honor the recipients, to advance their work, to encourage other members of the faculty to attain a high level of professional achievement and to be positive influences in the lives of students. The 2012 recipients are:

Cristina Ballantine, associate professor of mathematics, received her Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Toronto, Canada, and her undergraduate degree from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 2002, she specializes in number theory, representation theory and automorphic forms, and algebraic combinatorics. The recipient of two Batchelor Ford Foundation Summer Fellowships (in 2004 and 2006), she was also awarded a Fulbright Junior Research Award to Germany during the 2004-05 academic year. Ballantine has traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, to present her work and has published her research in several top academic journals. The O’Leary honorarium will allow her to attend the Automorphic Forms, Combinatorial Representation Theory and Multiple Dirichlet Series at the Math Institute at Brown University in the spring; and to take students to several mathematics conferences.  She is a resident of Holden, Mass.

Robert Bertin, professor of biology, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, his M.S. from the University of Connecticut, and his B.S. from Hobart College. A member of the faculty since 1984, Bertin specializes in ecology and botany. His current research focuses on the flora and natural history of New England and the ecology of invasive species. Bertin’s recent work has resulted in articles in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, the American Journal of Botany and Rhodora, and two monographs published by the New England Botanical Club. With the O’Leary funds, Bertin plans to study the flora of Franklin County, Mass., with a particular focus on plant geography and changes in the frequency of both native and non-native species over time. A resident of Paxton, Mass., he is active in local conservation efforts.

Mary Conley, associate professor of history, earned her Ph.D. in modern British history from Boston College, and her B.A. from Trinity College. Before joining the Holy Cross faculty in 2002, she taught at Emory and Marquette universities. Her research focuses on the intersections between gender and colonialism with particular emphasis on the British empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of “From Jack Tar to Union Jack: Representing Naval Manhood in the British Empire, 1870-1918” (Manchester University Press, 2009), and, most recently, contributed to “Other Combatants, Other Fronts: Competing Histories of the First World War” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).  Conley has taught a wide-range of courses in the history department and within the College’s Montserrat program for first-year students, including comparative histories of empire in Ireland, India, and South Africa; the history of the Irish famine; a history of childhood and empire; as well as surveys on the history of Britain and empire. She currently serves as the Director of the Global Society Cluster for Montserrat. In addition, she has been active in the leadership of the Northeast Conference on British Studies. A resident of Worcester, Mass., Conley will use the O’Leary grant for travel that will inform her teaching and research for her current book project, “Growing up in the Empire: Childhood and Children’s Lives across the British Empire, 1707-1965.”

Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies, earned his Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Chicago and his B.A. from Amherst College. A member of the Holy Cross faculty since 1998, Schmalz’s areas of expertise include global Catholicism, Hinduism, Catholic esotericism and modern religious movements. Currently, he serves as the director of the College Honors Program, a position he has held since 2007. The recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for independent research in Pakistan and India, he was also awarded a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Fellowship for his dissertation research on Catholicism in rural North India. On the editorial board of the journals Asian Horizons and the Journal of Christian Higher Education, Schmalz is a frequent contributor to “On Faith,” a blog on religion moderated by The Washington Post. Regularly sought out by the media for expert commentary, he has been quoted extensively by national outlets including ABC News, The New York Times, NPR, and the Associated Press, among others. With the O’Leary honoraria, he will conduct research on India and Sri Lanka while working with an editor to develop both fiction and non-fiction writing that explores themes in Catholic spirituality. Schmalz resides in Paxton, Mass.     

The Arthur J. O’Leary Faculty Recognition Awards have been made possible by an endowed gift to the College from Thomas H. O’Leary ’54, former President, CEO and Chairman of Burlington Resources, one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the United States.

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