Recognition for teaching, research

Professor of English Deyonne Bryant (left) and Professor of Psychology Gail Sahar

Professors Bryant and Sahar receive endowed chairs to pursue fields of interest

Professor of English Deyonne Bryant and Professor of Psychology Gail Sahar each have been recognized with a five-year endowed faculty professorship that will allow them to devote more time and resources to their field of scholarship.

These professorships recognize faculty for their teaching, research, service and ability to engage students and the community. They have been created by generous gifts from Wheaton alumni and friends.

Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts 

Bryant, who has taught at Wheaton for 21 years, has been named the Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts, which recognizes outstanding teaching and research in the arts.

Bryant teaches courses in fiction writing and personal essays as well as literature and first-year writing. She has served as chair of the English Department and is the co-director of the Wheaton’s Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning.

“In my fiction and essays, I try to discover answers to questions that interest me, and I’ve long been interested in the questions: What might human flourishing look like for African Americans after the post-civil rights movement, and what are the obstacles? The Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts will give me the time and resources to complete fiction manuscripts I’ve been working on and return to an old project, a family memoir, with fresh approaches,” she said.

The Mary Heuser chair also will enable her to fuse digital technology and creative writing pedagogy. She has been introducing students to flash fiction and will use this time to explore pedagogical strategies intended to support this form of writing.

And—in recognition of the community work of the late Professor Emerita of Art Mary Heuser—Bryant is planning to offer a memoir writing workshop.

“I’m looking forward to offering a complimentary memoir writing workshop for staff, faculty and members of the Norton community—an idea that grew out of a book group I offered several years ago. I’m grateful for the award and honored to hold the Mary Heuser endowed professorship,” Bryant said.

Jane Oxford Keiter ’64 Endowed Professorship 

Sahar has received the Jane Oxford Keiter ’64 Endowed Professorship, which is awarded to a senior member of the Wheaton faculty in the humanities or social sciences for excellent teaching and research that strengthens the college’s traditional liberal arts curriculum and reinforces its commitment to scholarship and creative teaching.

In addition to her current role as professor of psychology, Sahar has served in a number of capacities during her tenure at Wheaton, including special assistant to the president, associate provost and department chair.

Sahar’s research and teaching focus on social and political psychology, quantitative research methodology and statistics. Her scholarly work examines how perceptions of responsibility for social problems are related to culture and political ideology, and how they are linked with emotions and attitudes. She has published a number of articles on attitudes toward poverty, abortion, war and terrorism.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to have been awarded the Keiter chair. It will allow me to finish a book manuscript on the role of blame in political attitudes, which I am very excited about,” Sahar said.

The professorship will support her efforts to create a new course on psychology and social justice that will contribute to the Taylor and Lane Scholars Program. She plans to collaborate with the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning on programs in anti-racist pedagogy and student teaching and learning assistants as key facilitators of the educational process.

In addition, Sahar will devote time to a joint research project with Assistant Professor of Business and Management Sabrina Speights on responsibility perceptions and emotions in work-family conflict.

“Time is of the essence for these projects, so the course releases afforded by this professorship will be invaluable, and the research funds will also be extremely helpful. This honor is a wonderful way to cap off my 27 years [so far!] of teaching at Wheaton,” Sahar said.