Holy Cross Professor Named 2013 Massachusetts Professor of the Year

Susan Rodgers honored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE

November 14th, 2013 by Bridget Cass


Susan Rodgers, third from left, works with Tricia Giglio ’14, Martha Walters ’14, and Hana Carey ’13 on the 2013 exhibit “Transnational Ikat: An Asian Textile on the Move”

Susan Rodgers, the W. Arthur Garrity Sr. Professor in Human Nature, Ethics, and Society and professor of anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross, has been named the 2013 Massachusetts Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).  The award, which will be presented to Rodgers today in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate education.

“This is a marvelous re-affirmation of the value of the sort of time-intensive teaching and intellectual mentorship that we do at small liberal arts colleges like Holy Cross,” said Rodgers.

This year, a state Professor of the Year was recognized in 36 states. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners. CASE and Carnegie select state winners from top entries resulting from the judging process. Rodgers was selected from more than 350 top faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.

“As a colleague of Professor Rodgers, I experienced her talents as a teacher when I traveled to Indonesia with her a few years ago,” said Amy Wolfson, Holy Cross associate dean for faculty development and professor of psychology. “During our three weeks in Bali, Sumatra, and Yogyakarta, her deep understanding of the local cultures and languages, and her contagious excitement, commitment, and perseverance transformed my teaching, my research, and my interest in global education and international partnerships—just as those same compelling personal qualities have transformed the lives of so many Holy Cross students.”

Rodgers joined the Holy Cross faculty in 1989, leaving a tenured position at Ohio University to help Holy Cross establish an anthropology program.  She was promoted to full professor in 1995. She holds a B.A. in anthropology and religious studies from Brown University, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Director of the Asian Studies program at the College from 2003-05 and chair of the department of sociology and anthropology from 1997-2000 and 2008-11, Rodgers has held a number of roles on campus. A three-time teacher in the first-year seminar program,Montserrat, she has been a member of the Asian Studies and the Women’s and Gender Studies programs for more than 20 years. Rodgers has also been key in brokering relationships with Sanata Dharma, the Jesuit university in Indonesia.

Rodgers teaches a broad range of anthropology and Asian Studies courses, including introductory classes as well as Art and Power in Asia, Anthropology of Religion, Anthropology of Food, Genders and Sexualities, Fieldwork Methods, and Imagined Body. In her research, Rodgers studies the oratory and print literature of the Angkola Batak people of Sumatra.  She looks at how this ethnic minority literature gives Batak authors and readers a voice and fair hearing in speaking back to state power in the colonial Indies and today. Another line of research is Indonesian arts, seen politically.

Rodgers’ research has been supported both internally and externally, including a Marfuggi Faculty Scholarship Award and an O’Leary Fellowship from Holy Cross; a Fulbright senior scholar research grant in 1992 to travel to Indonesia for collaboration on a translation project with Batak orators; a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2000 to study epic chants in print in colonial and postcolonial Sumatra; a fellowship at the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., in 2001-02 to write about Batak print culture; and Mellon summer fellowships with Holy Cross students in 2010, 2012, and 2013 for joint projects on Indonesian art.

Most recently, Rodgers curated “Transnational Ikat: An Asian Textile on the Move” with student docents Hana Carey ’13, Tricia Giglio ’14, and Martha Walters ’14 at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at the College, which displayed over 40 ikat cloths from Indonesia and Malaysia. The exhibition was the culmination of fieldwork in Bali, Indonesia and Kuching, Malaysia, with the docents, supported by Mellon summer fellowships. The research group co-authored a website for the exhibition, providing rich ethnographic background on ikat weaving. This was Rodgers’ fourth exhibition for Holy Cross.

“Working with Professor Rodgers has been a defining part of my experience here at Holy Cross,” said Walters, an anthropology and environmental studies double major. “What started in a Montserrat class freshman year has evolved into several invaluable opportunities doing research, broadening my horizons, and gaining a deeper perspective of the world we live in.  Her commitment to her research and her students is admirable and inspiring, and I will always be grateful for how she has helped me to develop my academic career and my own aspirations.”

Rodgers will also be giving the annual Richard Rodino Lecture on the Aims of the Liberal Arts at the College on Feb. 4, 2014. Her lecture will be titled “Art, Asia, Anthropology: On Inter-illuminations in the Holy Cross Liberal Arts.” The event will be free and open to the public.

CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program since 1981. Additional support for the program is received from Phi Beta Kappa, which sponsors an evening congressional reception, the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education and other higher education associations.

About the Carnegie Foundation

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.

About the Council for Advancement and Support of Education

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in London, Singapore and Mexico City, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.

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Comments (1)
  1. Rachel Amaral '10 says:

    Amazing! I took Professor Rodgers’ course Anthropology of Food during my sophomore year. To this day I still talk about it in detail. Well deserved!

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