Scholastica Professors Taking Sabbaticals

Allissah Jerome

The College of St. Scholastica offers its’ professors a unique opportunity after they have been teaching for seven years: the option to take a sabbatical. Sabbaticals are opportunities for individuals to take a leave of absence for work to expand themselves personally or professionally and offer them the opportunity to travel. In the upcoming school year, St. Scholastica has four professors that are taking sabbaticals: Ed Smith, Hong-Ming Liang, Elyse Carter Vosen, and Stephanie Johnson.

Ed Smith
Ed Smith, who is the advisor for the Cable, is an assistant professor of communication at The College of St. Scholastica. In March, Smith will have been working for The College for 34 years. Smith took a sabbatical in 2000 and has decided to take another in the spring of 2018. The idea for the sabbatical came because 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Smith’s first trip to Ireland.

“I’ll be going back to Ireland in 2018, taking more landscape pictures and assembling a kind of retrospective show somewhere here on campus. I hope in the fall of 2018,” Smith said, “I love that place (Ireland) – it’s just a great place to be.”

Smith has visited the country eight times and taught there during five of those trips. Taking this sabbatical will allow Smith to focus on taking pictures of the beautiful and rugged landscapes in the west, especially County Galway and County Mayo.

Hong-Ming Liang
Hong-Ming Liang is an Associate Professor of History and Politics, but his role is generally to “send out lengthy and scary syllabuses and pester students with endless questions in classes and meetings,” he said. Professor Liang began teaching at The College in the fall of 2008.

“I wanted to take a year to see if there are ways for both publications, The Middle Ground and The North Star Reports, that I founded and edit to survive. Both publications are labor intensive, short on financial and other logistical support, so I want to use the year to explore options, seek advice, and think deeply and slowly before deciding their fate,” Liang said in an email interview.

During his upcoming year long sabbatical, Liang is hoping to use The North Star Reports to reach out to high schools with large recent
immigrant populations. “I like the idea of doing something concrete and positive in the face of a loud and angry world, and I am sure our students and myself will learn plenty from this outreach,” Liang said.

Stephanie Johnson
Dr. Stephanie Johnson is an Associate Professor of English and director of the Honors program at The College of St. Scholastica. Johnson has worked at the college for seven years, making this the first year she could apply for a sabbatical. “It’s something that I applied for as soon as I was qualified for it, and I’m really excited for the opportunity. It’s also because I do have a project that’s viable and that will be served well by having that time off and available to just writing,” Johnson said.

Johnson is pursuing a more traditional sabbatical where she will be writing two chapters and pursuing a publisher for her first book. The sabbatical will allow Johnson to focus on the scholarship aspect of her career, which unfortunately gets pushed aside due to other time commitments.

The proposed title of her upcoming book is “Christina Rossetti and the Body; Death, Desire, Devotion,” and will be a study of Rossetti’s poetry and prose and will “look at her treatment of the body, typically the female body, in her works and then thinking about it through her poems that deal with death and her religious poetry,” Johnson said. Rossetti is one of the most significant British female poets in the nineteenth century.

Elyse Carter Vosen
Dr. Elyse Carter Vosen is also taking a sabbatical during the upcoming school year. Carter Vosen teaches in the department of Global, Cultural, and Language studies, is a member of the Women and Gender Studies faculty, and directs the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum. Carter Vosen started working at the college in the fall of 1998 and has been here for 18 years since then.

“I wanted to get to a place where I had a foundation built. For me that meant achieving a tenure, and being promoted to associate professor. Once I made it to that point, I felt that it was a good time to ask for a sabbatical. Another part of it is that I’m at a turning point in my scholarly career,” Carter Vosen said.

As an ethnomusicologist and a focus on environmental justice, Carter Vosen will use her sabbatical for field research during the full ‘17-’18 academic year. While Carter Vosen will be spending most of her time in the Duluth area, she plans to take several trips to either coast where she will study the Jewish environmental movement and how Jewish music is used spiritually.

“Ultimately, the goal I have set for myself is a modest one in the terms of scholarship because I just know there is a lot I have to learn this year, and I’m really excited about being a student for the year,” Carter Vosen said. Carter Vosen is also looking forward to spending more time with her two daughters and hopes to learn to play the guitar as well.