April 9, 2009 — Five University of Virginia faculty members have received Guggenheim fellowships for "stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment," according to an announcement on Wednesday by Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
The foundation awarded 180 fellowships to artists, scientists and scholars. The successful candidates were chosen from almost 3,000 applicants.
U.Va.'s 2009 Guggenheim fellows are
• Francesca Fiorani, associate professor of art history;
• Risa Goluboff, Law School professor;
• Deborah Lawrence, associate professor of environmental sciences;
• Charles Marsh, professor of religious studies;
• Lisa Russ Spaar, associate professor of English.
Guggenheim fellowships are intended to foster the recipients' creativity and span six to 12 months. The average grant in last year's U.S. and Canada competition was $43,200.
Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., executive vice president and provost, said news of the U.Va. faculty members' awards was "absolutely outstanding."
"My thanks and appreciation go out to each of these professors on this exceptional achievement," Garson said. "To me, our faculty receiving five Guggenheims in one year is an indication of the depth and breadth of scholarship here at U.Va."
Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said she was delighted to learn of the awards Thursday morning – and that four of the five recipients were from the College.
"It's an illustration of the great distinction that our faculty has achieved and the College's commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge," she said.
Great things may still be to come, Woo said. "Guggenheim Fellows go on to be Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners," she added.
Since 1992 – as far back as official University records go – U.Va. faculty members have won 12 Guggenheims, but never more than two in a single year. This year's awards are the University's first since 2005.
Of 80 colleges and universities represented in the 2009 Guggenheim fellowships, fewer than a third received multiple awards. Also receiving five fellowships were the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard University. Columbia University had the most with seven. The only other Virginia institution on the list was George Mason University, with one award.
One of the hallmarks of the Guggenheim fellowship program, now in its 85th year, is the diversity of its fellows. This year's fellows range in age from 29 to 70; their residences span the world; and their fellowship projects will carry them to every continent. In all, 62 disciplines and 68 different academic institutions are represented by this year's fellows.
Hirsch said in a press release that, since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $273 million in fellowships to nearly 16,700 individuals. Nobel, Pulitzer and other prize winners grace the roll of fellows, which includes Ansel Adams, W.H. Auden, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Isamu Noguchi, Wendy Wasserstein, Derek Walcott, James Watson and Eudora Welty.