USC Dornsife faculty members receive Guggenheim Fellowships

Susanna Berger and Robin Coste Lewis were among a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists and scientists selected by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation from a group of almost 3,000 applicants on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Berger will use the Guggenheim Fellowship to help her write a new book, tentatively titled Visual Expertise and the Aesthetics of Deception in Early Modern Italy. Berger developed her new book project while a fellow at Villa I Tatti, Harvard University’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

Lewis, who is the poet laureate of Los Angeles, will use her Guggenheim Fellowship to finish To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness, her next full-length poetry collection. Drawing parallels between the history of exploration in the Arctic and constructions of race, the collection will show photos from her personal family archive alongside poems about northern expansion. The project is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2020. Click here to read more.

Colleges Are Getting Smarter About Student Evaluations. Here’s How.

Emily Wu and Kenneth Ancell, two students at the University of Oregon, approached their honors research professor, Bill Harbaugh, a few years ago about studying the relationship between student evaluations and grade inflation. Harbaugh, a professor of economics, was enthusiastic. Wu and Ancell dived into the university’s extensive data on evaluation and transcripts, focusing on its two largest schools, journalism and business.

What they found surprised them.

“Having a female instructor is correlated with higher student achievement,” Wu said, but female instructors received systematically lower course evaluations. In looking at prerequisite courses, the two researchers found a negative correlation between students’ evaluations and learning. “If you took the prerequisite class from a professor with high student teaching evaluations,” Harbaugh said, “you were likely, everything else equal, to do worse in the second class.”

The team found numerous studies with similar findings. “It replicates what many, many other people found,” said Harbaugh. “But to see it at my own university, I sort of felt like I had to do something about it.”.Click here to read more.


$50 Million Provost Initiative on Fostering Our Diverse Community

In his November 1, 2018 memo, Provost Quick outlined important new steps in USC’s ongoing efforts to foster diversity in our academic community. The first of these new initiatives is an ambitious joint program in which the Office of the Provost, working with the schools, will allocate a total of $50 million in new funds to match funding that schools employ towards the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Training to Foster Diversity in Faculty Hiring