Eight Professors Win Prestigious Honors

Heather Hendershot
Thomas Bradshaw
Benjamin Carter Hett
Robert Courtney Smith
Victoria Sanford
Jonathan H. Shannon

Eight University professors are among the handful of outstanding educators who recently received honors from two prestigious organizations. Six won Guggenheim Fellowships, giving CUNY a three-way tie with Princeton and Johns Hopkins Universities for the most 2009 winners of this major award, which went to 180 "advanced professionals" from the U.S. and Canada. Two other University professors were among 210 newly elected Fellows of the esteemed 229-year-old American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The University's six Guggenheim winners, who represent five CUNY colleges and the Graduate Center, are playwright Thomas Bradshaw, assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College; Benjamin Carter Hett, associate professor of history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center; Jonathan H. Shannon, associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center; Victoria Sanford, associate professor of anthropology at Lehman College and the Graduate Center; Heather Hendershot, associate professor of media studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center; and Robert Courtney Smith, associate professor in immigration studies, sociology and public affairs at Baruch College and the Graduate Center.

Newest American Academy of Arts & Sciences Fellows are Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of French, English and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, and Michael Sorkin, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and director of the graduate urban design program at City College. They join Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and the University's 11 other previous Academy electees: Andreas Acrivos, City College, Albert Einstein Professor of Science and Engineering Emeritus; Herman Z. Cummins, City College, Distinguished Professor of Physics; Morton M. Denn, City College, Albert Einstein Professor of Science and Engineering, director of  the Levich Institute; David Harvey, Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology; Frances Degen Horowitz, Graduate Center, President Emerita; Richard Kramer, Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor of Music; Saul Aaron Kripke, Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy; Myriam Sarachik, City College, Distinguished Professor of Physics; Dennis Parnell Sullivan, Graduate Center, Einstein Chair in Mathematics; Leo Treitler, Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor of Music Emeritus; and the late Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Graduate Center, Distinguished Professor of English.

"All of us at CUNY take enormous pride in the outstanding work of these faculty members," said Chancellor Goldstein. "Their scholarly and creative contributions advance understanding and stimulate thought across disciplines and across society, and foster lively centers of learning within CUNY's classrooms. I offer my warmest congratulations to each of them."

Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Fellowship grants are made for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 12 months. The average grant in the 2008 United States and Canada competition was approximately $43,200.  Since the purpose of the program is to help provide Fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible, grants have no special conditions attached to them. Among the first winners was composer Aaron Copland.

The University's 2009 Guggenheim winners have widely varied resumes.

Bradshaw, who has been featured as one of Time Out New York's 10 playwrights to watch, explores racial identification in America. His latest play is an adaptation of The Book of Job, commissioned by Soho Rep, where he is the 2008-2009 Streslin Fellow.

Hett, a former trial lawyer, is author of the prize-winning book Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand.

Shannon is an ethnographer who has been working in Syria to examine how Syrian musicians and other artists "draw on their heritage to assert their modernity."

Sanford — a human rights activist, scholar and author —has worked with Central American refugees since 1986, when she founded a refugee legal services project.

Hendershot, who is also coordinator of the Film Studies Certificate program at the Graduate Center and editor of Cinema Journal, is working on her newest book, about right-wing broadcasting of the 1950s and 1960s.

Smith is author of the award-winning book Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants, based on 15 years of research in New York City and Puebla, Mexico.

This year's 210 new Academy Fellows and 19 Foreign Honorary Members join what is one of the nation's oldest, most prestigious honorary societies and a center for independent policy research. The 2009 scholars, scientists, jurists, writers, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 28 states and 11 countries and range from age 33 to 83. They include Nobel laureates and recipients of the Pulitzer and Pritzker Prizes; MacArthur Fellowships; Academy, Grammy, and Tony awards; and the National Medal of Arts. New Fellows include Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and actors Dustin Hoffman and James Earl Jones. Newest Foreign Honorary Members include 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, who guided the reconciliation of South Africa in the post-Apartheid era; U2 lead singer and advocate for humanitarian causes, Bono; and British actress Judith Dench. Earlier inductees into the academy — founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots — include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.