Chinese Professor Search Finishes Successfully

by Elizabeth Davis

The search for a new professor in Chinese language and culture has come to a close, and Transylvania’s search committee is excited about the results.

“It’s a difficult position to fill,” said Dr. Brian Arganbright, chairman of the committee and associate professor of French at Transy. “All of the candidates did a really nice job presenting on language and culture.”

“They’re all awesome,” said Dr. Wei Lin, assistant professor of art history and also a committee member.

The four candidates were Jie Wu, visiting assistant professor at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.; Quin Gao, visiting assistant professor at the University of the Redlands in Redlands, Calif.; Yanji Wang, a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Henrietta Yang, assistant professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Their backgrounds ranged from linguistics to literature to the instruction of technology.

The candidates were selected from a pool of 92 applicants by phone interview, Arganbright said, after which selection each was required to teach an introductory Chinese class and give a talk about their job on campus.

Arganbright said the candidates were evaluated on the basis of their teaching performance, their projected participation in the context of Transy as a whole and their ability to build a program in Asian studies. This anticipated program would fall largely to the new professor to create.

Arganbright cited practical reasons for this expansion of Transy’s Asian studies courses such as China’s major role as a modern economic and political power as well as fostering “a love of the language” in students who wish to take advantage of these course offerings.

Lin said that she and other language professors will work together to help the new professor acclimate to life at Transy and will assist in the recruitment for and the development of Transy’s exchange program in China.

The list of courses the new professor will teach is tentative, but Arganbright said that language classes, a Foundations of the Liberal Arts class and a class in the professor’s area of specialty will be included.

“We need to attract students to the Chinese language,” said Arganbright.

He stated the need for an “innovative and dynamic” teacher to fill the role of professor.

An unforeseen test of the candidates’ enthusiasm arrived in the form of this January’s particularly icy weather.

“We hit all the snowstorms while we were out having dinner with the candidates,” said Lin.

One candidate’s return flight was delayed to the point that it took her 30 hours to get home.

Despite the added precipitation, Lin said the candidates were all “very excited” to be on campus. In addition to giving a talk and teaching a class, each spent time with the search committee, composed of Drs. Arganbright, Lin, Rick Weber, Frank Russell, Simonetta Cochis and Martha Billips, as well as other faculty members and students from Transy’s foreign language programs.

“There was a great response from the students,” said Arganbright.

Students enrolled in Lin’s classes or the upcoming May term trip to China were invited to evaluate the candidates, and a general invitation for feedback was sent out through Inside Transy.

Lin related that the candidates were encouraged by the students’ active participation. She said one candidate commented that “the students are so smart. They ask very good questions.”

The search committee has not released the name of the professor just yet, but Lin said that the committee “can’t wait to have the candidate here.”

Arganbright agreed, and encourages students “not to miss out” on what Transy’s Chinese courses have to offer.


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