Our Endowed, Named, and Foundation Chairs & Professors are faculty members with significant experience and accomplishments in their fields. They are leaders in both the classroom and in their respective disciplines, and they have a growing body of research. Throughout their careers, they have built a network of collaborators and a robust research portfolio. Private funding for endowed chairs and grants for named endowments provides the resources they need to further their work, publish their findings, travel to conferences, and create opportunities for promising students to gain real-life research experience. The work they do helps MSU remain a competitive force among other universities and research institutions on a global scale. 

Endowed, Named, and Foundation Faculty

Kristin Arola

Associate Professor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures
The Karen L. Gillmor, Ph.D. Endowed Professorship in Professional and Public Writing

In addition to the Karen L. Gillmor, Ph.D Endowed Professorship in Professional Writing, Kristin Arola is an Associate Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures as well as Interim Chair of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program at MSU. Dr. Arola’s research and teaching focuses on composing as culturing. Specifically, she explores how the ways we write/design/make, as well as the ways we teach writing/designing/making, culture us into particular ways of being and particular sets of values. By looking to the relations between land, histories, and cultures, she considers how the words, designs, and images we compose evoke the past while opening up possible futures. To do this work, she brings together composition theory, making culture, digital rhetoric, environmental rhetoric, and cultural rhetoric. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University.

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Kinitra Brooks

Associate Professor, Department of English
Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Chair in Literary Studies

In addition to her appointment as the Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Chair of Literature, Kinitra Brooks is an Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of English. She specializes in the study of Black women, genre fiction, and popular culture and currently has two books in print: Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror and Sycorax’s DaughtersDr. Brooks served as the Advancing Equity Through Research Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University and as the Ricardo K. Romo Endowed Professor in the Honors College at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in English Literature from Xavier University. She also holds an M.P.H. in International Health and Development from Tulane University.

Ruth Nicole Brown

Chairperson, Department of African American and African Studies
MSU Research Foundation Professor

Ruth Nicole Brown, Professor and the Inaugural Chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) at MSU, was the first faculty member from the College of Arts & Letters appointed as an MSU Research Foundation Professor. An internationally recognized leader in Black Girlhood Studies, Brown’s research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experience and explores the gender and racialized power dynamics of collectivity, particularly as it relates to Black girlhood. This innovative research has helped create the field of Black Girlhood Studies. Dr. Brown founded both Black Girl Genius Week (BGGW) and Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) for the gathering and empowerment of Black women. As Chairperson of AAAS, she is leading the creation and development of the new Ph.D.-granting department. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and graduate certificates in World Performance Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies.

Dean Long in suit standing outside smiling

Christopher P. Long

Dean, College of Arts & Letters
Dean, MSU Honors College

MSU Research Foundation Professor

Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters and Dean of the MSU Honors College, was appointed an MSU Research Foundation Professor in 2021. Under his leadership, the College of Arts & Letters has established an international reputation through the creation of the Center for Interdisciplinarity, the Citizen Scholars program, the Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative, and the Excel Network. On July 1, 2021, he assumed additional leadership responsibilities as the Dean of the MSU Honors College where his priorities are to enhance the quality of the student experience, recruit and retain a wide diversity of high-performing students, and engage alumni and friends in strategic philanthropy that will elevate the leadership position of the Honors College. Dr. Long is the Primary Investigator, leading a multi-university research project supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to improve the teaching of less commonly taught languages with the Big Ten Academic AllianceHe also is co-PI for the Mellon-funded HuMetricsHSS, an initiative for rethinking humane indicators of excellence in academia. He received both his Ph.D. and M.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York and previously held positions as Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Education and Professor of Philosophy and Classics at Pennsylvania State University.

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Morgan Shipley

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Foglio Endowed Chair in Spirituality

In addition to his appointment as the Inaugural Foglio Endowed Chair in Spirituality, Morgan Shipley also serves as an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at MSU. His research focuses on new religious movements, western esotericism, and alternative spirituality in America, specifically through analyses of popular culture, social movements, political practices, and identity structures. He is the author of Psychedelic Mysticism: Transforming Consciousness, Religious Experiences, and Voluntary Peasants in Postwar America and co-editor of The Silence of Fallout: Nuclear Criticism in a Post-Cold War World along with a wide repertoire of publications in peerreviewed journals, edited anthologies, and encyclopedias. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in Political Science from DePaul University.

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Amy Simon

Assistant Professor, James Madison College
William and Audrey Farber Family Chair in Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History

Professor Amy Simon holds the William and Audrey Farber Family Chair in Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History, participating in James Madison College, the Department of History, and Jewish Studies. Her research examines victim representations of perpetrators in Yiddish diaries written in the Warsaw, Lodz, and Vilna ghettos during World War II. Dr. Simon completed her PhD at Indiana University in European History and Jewish Studies. She is the recipient of a Saul Kagan Claims Conference Fellowship as well as the Leon Milman Memorial Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC where she also worked as a researcher on a new digital humanities project. Her teaching focuses on a holistic and inter-disciplinary approach to history that incorporates a variety of areas, including historiography, film, literature, public history, and testimony.

Silvia Tita

Professor, Department of Art, Art History, and Design
Carol Ann Bennett-Vallès Professorship in Art History

Silvia Tita, an Art Historian and Digital Humanities Researcher, is the first appointee of the Carol Ann Bennett-Vallès Professorship in Art History at MSU. Prior to her time at MSU, she worked as a Research Associate in Digital Humanities at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where she was part of The History of the Academia di San Luca project. She also served as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History at Kalamazoo College. Dr. Tita has a Ph.D. in History of Art from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in History of Art from the University of Toronto, a B.A. in History and Theory of Art and Museum Studies from the University of Arts Bucharest, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Polytechnic University Bucharest.

Paula Winke

Professor and Director,  Second Language Studies Program 
Arts & Letters Professor 

Paula Winke is the Inaugural Arts & Letters Professor in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. She is a former Peace Corps Volunteer to China, a two-time Fulbright Scholar (Hungary 2008; Germany 2022), a former National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee member, and a four-time, national and international research award winner. She teaches courses on language assessment, language teaching methods, and cognitive and affective factors that contribute to differential language-learning growth. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota, and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Jeff Wray

Professor, Department of English

Timnick Chair in the Humanities 

Jeffrey WrayDepartment of English Professor and Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies, was appointed Timnick Chair in the Humanities in 2021An accomplished filmmaker, screenwriter, and educatorhe has created a career that unites the arts and humanities with activism and who continually draws inspiration from his students. Wray has served as a core faculty member in MSU’s Film Studies program since 2002. He also developed curriculum for the Fiction Filmmaking minor. He has received numerous awards recognizing his outstanding teaching including MSU’s William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award (2019), Excellence in Diversity Award (2017), and the Paul Varg Excellence in Teaching Award (2016). Wray is an accomplished filmmaker who makes films about Black perspectives and Black experiences that have been screened across the United States and abroad.