AOV Initiative Funds Strategic Hiring in Department of History

Author: Carrie Gates

patrick_griffinPatrick Griffin

The University of Notre Dame selected the Department of History as one of 10 essential research areas to receive funding through a new strategic hiring initiative—a key component in the University’s Advancing Our Vision (AOV) program.

The hiring initiative, announced in December 2013, will create approximately 80 faculty positions across campus and draw on $10 million in annual funds that have been reallocated from lower-priority expenditures.

“It is this sort of visible investment that can turn a strong department into a truly distinguished department—one that will have a significant voice in the profession,” said Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and chair of the department.

Not only will the initiative strengthen the history program, Griffin said, but it has also created “a rallying point” for the entire department.

“This provides a way for us to think about our work outside of ourselves and in connection with others in the department. It helps us think strategically about the program as a whole, and that’s the most exciting thing.”

The department’s winning project, “Global History,” calls for increased faculty investment in newer areas of research that span the globe, as well as emerging areas of strength in the department such as Atlantic history. All new hires will focus on research not limited by national boundaries.

Through the project, Griffin anticipates making six to seven new hires over the next several years—including its first AOV hire, Associate Professor Elisabeth Köll, who will join the department from Harvard University in Spring 2015. Köll specializes in the economic and business history of China.

Elisabeth KöllElisabeth Köll

“The whole idea behind the AOV strategic hiring initiative is that it will be a force multiplier,” he said. “We are bringing in people who can consciously build bridges to other areas either in terms of discipline or area of focus so that we can multiply our strengths and make the most of the people we have here.

“Elisabeth is a perfect example of the type of accomplished, cross-disciplinary scholar we are looking to hire. She also works in an area in which we were woefully understaffed, so we are delighted to welcome her to Notre Dame.”

University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., introduced the AOV program in 2011 as part of Notre Dame’s ongoing commitment to research excellence, both within faculty and for the undergraduate and graduate students they teach.

The president also emphasizes the program’s importance given the University’s commitment to be a sound steward of its resources, a commitment that has taken on even greater significance given current challenges facing the economy and higher education.

“Everyone recognizes that the whole University is sacrificing to enhance our research capacity and profile,” said John McGreevy, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “The challenge for the academic leaders is to build research programs worthy of that sacrifice.

“The AOV program will allow us to advance both the quality and the global scope of the historical scholarship represented in the Department of History, furthering the University’s international vision,” he said.

The 10 winning proposals, which were selected by a cross-disciplinary committee of faculty and deans, aim to build on the University’s existing strengths in global history, economics, chemical and biomolecular engineering, electrical engineering (nanotechnology), topology, analytical chemistry and biochemistry, nuclear physics, computational data science and engineering, applied and computational mathematics and statistics, and non-embryonic stem cell research.

“We are thrilled with the confidence the administration has shown in this department,” Griffin said. “It is so gratifying that the University recognizes that we have worked hard to try to be the best department we can be, to make the best hires we can, and to build the best undergraduate and graduate programs in the country.

“When you go to work every day knowing you work in such a supportive place, it is amazing. We know that we are blessed to be here, and it is wonderful to have the support of the administration.”

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