K Honors 10 Faculty Members as Endowed Chairs

Kalamazoo College has appointed 10 faculty members as endowed chairs, recognizing their achievements as professors. Endowed chairs are positions funded through the annual earnings from an endowed gift or gifts to the College. The honor reflects the value donors attribute to the excellent teaching and mentorship that occurs at K and how much donors want to see that excellence continue.

The honorees are:

  • Francisco Villegas, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership junior chair;
  • Leihua Weng, the most senior faculty member in Chinese;
  • Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt, an endowed chair in critical ethnic studies;
  • Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada, the Marlene Crandall Francis Endowed Chair in the Humanities;
  • Kathryn Sederberg, the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Endowed Chair;
  • Regina Stevens-Truss, the Dorothy H. Heyl Senior Endowed Chair in Chemistry;
  • Blakely Tresca, the Harriet G. Varney Endowed Chair in Natural Science;
  • Amy Elman, the William Weber Endowed Chair in Social Science;
  • Autumn Hostetter, the Kurt D. Kaufman Endowed Chair; and
  • Richard Koenig, the Genevieve U. Gilmore Endowed Chair in Art.
Francisco Villegas among endowed chairs

Francisco Villegas

Villegas, an assistant professor of sociology at K, was a sociology lecturer at the University of Toronto Scarborough from 2014 to 2016 before arriving in Kalamazoo.

Villegas specializes in the topics of immigration, race, citizenship, deportability and illegalization. He has a doctorate in sociology in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, a master’s degree in Mexican American studies from San Jose University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social behavior from the University of California Irvine.

Kalamazoo County launched a community ID program in 2018, allowing residents to obtain it, including those otherwise unable to get a state ID, with Villegas serving as the ID advisory board chair. At this point over 3,000 residents have obtained one. Kalamazoo College students, through a partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement participate in a work-study program supporting the program and learning about policy implementation

Leihua Weng among endowed chairs

Leihua Weng

Weng, an assistant professor of Chinese language and literature, has taught at K beginning Chinese and advanced Chinese, as well as different content courses in English, such as women in China, urban China and Chinese films. 

Weng’s research interest includes (trans-)nationalism and globalization in literature and films, traditions and modernity, and postmodern literary theories. She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of South Carolina, a Master of Arts at Peking University, and a Bachelor of Arts at Zhejiang University. She taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Pacific Lutheran University before she came to K. 

Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt among endowed chairs

Cyndy Garcia-Weyandt

García-Weyandt, an assistant professor of critical ethnic studies, has taught courses at K in environmental studies such as Body, Land and Labor; and Plant Communication Kinship, as well as courses in critical ethnic studies such as Argument with the Given, a writing seminar exploring dreams, storytelling, poetry, art activism, memoir, and personal narratives as sources of knowledge and social change. She is coordinator and co-founder of Proyecto Taniuki (“Our Language Project”), a community-based project in Zitakua, Mexico.

In the Taniuki, she collaborates with urban indigenous communities in language revitalization efforts. Her research areas include indigenous knowledge systems, land pedagogy, urban indigenous peoples of Mexico, indigenous art and performances, and ontology.  García-Weyandt’s ancestral homeland is in San Juan Sayultepec Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, México. She is a poeta, an immigrant, a first-generation college student, and former community college transfer student. She has a Ph.D. and master’s degree in culture and performance, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Alyssa-Maldonado-Estrada

Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada

Maldonado-Estrada, an assistant professor of religion, is the author of Lifeblood of the Parish: Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, an ethnography about masculinity and men’s devotional lives in a gentrified neighborhood in New York City. She teaches classes at K on religion and masculinity, urban religion, Catholics in the Americas and the religions of Latin America.

Outside K, Maldonado-Estrada is a co-chair of the Men and Masculinities Unit at the American Academy of Religion and is an editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Art, Objects, and Belief. She also was chosen for the 2020-2022 cohort of Young Scholars in American Religion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture.

Earlier this year, Sacred Writes—a network of religion scholars committed to helping a broad global audience understand the significance of their work—selected Maldonado-Estrada to be one of 24 scholars from around the world receiving a Public Scholarship on Religion for 2021. Maldonado-Estrada received her doctorate in religion from Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree in sociology and religion from Vassar College.

cMUMMA Academic Rigor GERMAN Sederberg (prof) 2018 lo 7186.JPG

Kathryn Sederberg

Sederberg, a co-chair in the Department of German Studies, will be honored in a virtual ceremony November 20 by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) as one of five national recipients of the Goethe‐Institut/AATG Certificate of Merit. The honor recognizes her achievements in furthering the teaching of German in the U.S. through creative activities, innovative curriculum, successful course design and significant contributions to the profession.

Sederberg teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced German as well as Contemporary German Culture and the senior seminars on varying topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Regina-Stevens-Truss-teaching

Regina Stevens-Truss

Stevens-Truss, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has taught at Kalamazoo College since 2000. She teaches Chemical Reactivity, Biochemistry, Medicinal Chemistry and Infection: Global Health and Social Justice.

Research in her lab focuses testing a variety of compounds (peptides and small molecules) for antimicrobial activity. She is also the current director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant awarded to the College’s science division in 2018.

Stevens-Truss earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Toledo. She held two fellowships at the University of Michigan between 1993 and 1999, one of which was a lectureship in medicinal chemistry.

Blakely-Tresca

Blakely Tresca

Tresca, an assistant professor of chemistry, has been at K since 2018. He’s a supermolecular chemist with additional research interests in organic chemistry. He co-leads the College’s annual Kalamazoo American Chemical Society networking event, allowing students to discuss chemistry careers with industry professionals.

Tresca holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in the Molecular Foundry.

Amy Elman

Amy-Elman

Elman, a professor of political science, has taught a variety of courses within the political science, women’s studies and Jewish studies departments. During her tenure at K, she has also been a visiting professor at Haifa University in Israel, Harvard University, SUNY Potsdam, Middlebury College, Uppsala University in Sweden and New York University.

Elman has received two Fulbright grants, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a grant from the Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Hebrew University. She has written three books: The European Union, Antisemitism and the Politics of Denial (2014); Sexual Equality in an Integrated Europe (2007); and Sexual Subordination and State Intervention: Comparing Sweden and the United States (1996). She also edited Sexual Politics and the European Union: The New Feminist Challenge (1996). She has a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from New York University.

Autumn-Hostetter

Autumn Hostetter

Hostetter, a professor of psychology, has expertise in cognitive psychology—specifically, the psychology of language and spatial cognition. She has taught classes at K including Cognition, Experimental Research Methods, the Psychology of Language and Mind, and the first year seminar Harry Potter Goes to College.

She maintains an active research lab on campus exploring how we use our bodies to help us think and communicate. She provides many opportunities for Kalamazoo College students to participate in research, both as participants and as research assistants. Some recent publications have appeared in journals such as the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Psychological Research, the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Teaching of Psychology, and the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. Many of her publications feature Kalamazoo College students and alumni as co-authors. Hostetter earned a bachelor’s degree from Berry College and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Richard Koenig among endowed chairs

Richard Koenig

Koenig began teaching art and photography courses such as Digital Photography, Analog Photography, Alternative Photographic Processes and several seminars at K in 1998.

His fine art work, Photographic Prevarications, was shown in six one-person exhibits in as many years (from 2007 to 2012). Koenig’s long-term documentary project Contemporary Views Along the First Transcontinental Railroad spawned four articles (between 2014 and 2019). In 2020, Koenig collaborated with four others on a multi-media exhibit, Hoosier Lifelines: Environmental and Social Change Along the Monon, 1847-2020, which was shown this year at the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University and the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana.

Koenig received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and his Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University.

Nature Center Nurtures Student’s Love of Writing

A nature center and biological field station in Hastings, Michigan, is home for a Kalamazoo College student this summer.

Paige Chung and Oliver Baez Bendorf at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Nature Center
Paige Chung ’20 is at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute this summer, serving as the nature center’s Nature in Words Fellow. Assistant Professor of English Oliver Baez Bendorf, who leads poetry classes at K, is serving Chung as a consultant.

Paige Chung ’20, an English and critical ethnic studies (CES) major, is at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, which is dedicated to environmental education and stewardship. She is serving the center as a Nature in Words Fellow by developing a collection of soundscape poetry and creative non-fiction based on her on-site explorations.

Soundscapes capture a sound or a combination of sounds that arise from an immersive environment, making Pierce Cedar Creek Institute an ideal atmosphere. The opportunity allows Chung to explore 742 acres of land, including lakes, forests and hiking trails, as she nurtures a hobby she hopes to one day parlay into a career: writing.

Bill and Jessie Pierce developed the Willard G. Pierce and Jessie M. Pierce Foundation to benefit Hastings and West Michigan in 1988. Just before they died in 1998, they had an idea to build an environmental education and nature center that became the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.

Paige Chung Presenting at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Nature Center
Paige Chung presents to other fellows at the Pierce Cedar Creek Nature Institute.

Now, 14 students from Michigan colleges and universities are on the property as they study animals from box turtles to rattlesnakes or pursue creative opportunities such as painting. Chung, however, is the only writer, and she feels fortunate to be there.

“I remember getting an email from the English Department about it right before bed one night in February or March,” Chung said. “At that point, I was trying to decide if I should go back home to do some community work for the summer or if I would find somewhere to stay in Michigan, so I applied. It’s phenomenal because it provides me with an abundant number of opportunities to write without the pressures of paying the rent or bills, and it fuels my ability to create my art. It shows me that writing is possible as a career.”

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute fellowship students have consultants of their choosing serving them as advisers during the summer. Chung’s consultant is Assistant Professor of English Oliver Baez Bendorf, who leads poetry classes at K.

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Nature Center Bridge
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute covers 742 acres of land, including lakes, forests and hiking trails.

“He’s been phenomenal so far with how he pushes me to write,” said Chung, who also credits Intercultural Student Life Director Natalia Carvalho-Pinto, Assistant Professor of Critical Ethnic Studies Reid Gomez and Assistant Professor of English Shanna Salinas for inspiring her at K. Bendorf “encourages me to write and not worry about creating a perfect product. He asks questions and supports me every step of the way. He’s someone I’ll check in with throughout the writing process.”

That process for Chung includes immersing herself at the nature center, both in solitude and in the company of other students, observing and sampling sounds that end up in her poetry. “Poetry for me captures a moment,” Chung said. “There’s less pressure to have an entire plot and story line with poetry. It’s a playground for language. I also like to write plays, but those are longer-term projects for me. With poetry, I can write in one day and be done with it. I don’t necessarily need anything more than time, a piece of paper and a pen.”

At K, Chung works as a Writing Center assistant director and Intercultural Center-Arcus Center liaison, and she co-founded Resist, Magic Mastermind, a zine publication uplifting the stories of queer students, trans students and students of color. As a Los Angeles native, Chung’s inspirations have traditionally been city based, which means Pierce Cedar Creek Institute expands her writing horizons.

Chung said, “In CES, we learn from Chinua Achebe—who speaks English as a non-native speaker, allowing for something new and interesting to happen with language—that stories are stories even with a non-native tongue. We learn from the book Almanac of the Dead that stories are power. Through the power of language and stories, I am constantly asking what can be done with writing.”

This fellowship gives Chung the opportunity to explore this question in new ways.

“Through this fellowship, I ask what can be translated from the sounds of nature to sounds from hip-hop, jazz, Spanglish, Vietnamese and Los Angeles. This will help me push the boundaries of my poetry and writing to new landscapes.”