Scholars and Proven Leaders, Huneke and Clowes Will Join U.Va. from the University of Kansas

May 14, 2012 — Craig Huneke of the University of Kansas will become the first Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia, a position made possible by a generous gift by an alumnus in honor of his late father, and Edith Clowes will join the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures as Brown-Forman Professor of Arts & Sciences.

Announcing the appointments, Dean Meredith Jung-En Woo hailed the scholars as respected leaders who will bring depth and expertise to the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

The appointments are effective Aug. 25.

Clowes is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and Huneke is Henry J. Bischoff Professor of Mathematics. They are husband and wife.

"Craig's appointment is a transformative moment in the history of our Department of Mathematics," Woo said. "He is an internationally recognized scholar and master teacher who will add depth to the department's strength in teaching and research. He also brings great vision and leadership to the department as it enters a period of growth in the coming years."

Woo added that Huneke's skills and experience made him the ideal candidate for the professorship, established to honor a long-time U.Va. professor and mathematics chair.

"Marvin Rosenblum was a gifted mathematician and leader who was known among his colleagues and students for his generosity and supportiveness," she said. "He cared deeply about his department and its future. I believe he would have been pleased by Craig's appointment. We are immensely grateful to his son and daughter-in-law, Mendel Rosenblum and Diane Greene, for enabling us to attract someone of Craig's caliber."

Clowes is not only one of America's leading Slavists, but is also a proven leader. "Edith has done impressive work in building and managing an important Title VI center on Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies," Woo said. "I am confident that her considerable strengths in research, teaching and administration will be of great benefit to our students and to building the stature of our Slavic department."

'A Path-Breaking Mathematician'

Brian Parshall, the Gordon Thomas Whyburn Professor of Mathematics and current department chair, said Huneke's work in algebra has advanced the field – particularly in the area of "tight closure," which he co-invented with Melvin Hochster of the University of Michigan. Huneke's expertise in commutative algebra and algebraic geometry fills an important need for the mathematics department and will complement the scholarship of several U.Va. mathematicians who use Huneke's areas in their own work, he said.

"Craig is a path-breaking mathematician, a great teacher and an outstanding academic leader with extensive administrative experience," Parshall said. "We expect him to renew the mathematics department in the years ahead by attracting top young faculty and graduate students to our program."

Huneke said U.Va.'s national reputation attracted him to the position, along with the value the University places on undergraduate education, the high quality of the math department faculty, and the dean's vision for the future of the department.

"The plan for steady and controlled growth of the math department gives us the opportunity to find first-rate mathematicians who excel in both research and teaching," he said. "This will not be easy. The best people are highly sought-after. However, we will have a great message to tell prospective hires."

Huneke received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Oberlin College in 1973 and a doctorate from Yale University in 1978. In addition to holding an endowed chair at Kansas, he has served as a member of the governing Council of the American Mathematical Society and of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Banff International Research Station. He was an associate professor at U.Va. in 1984.

After spending time at the prestigious Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, this coming fall, Huneke will be in residence at U.Va. next spring, assuming the chairmanship of the Department of Mathematics in fall 2013.

A Strategic Vision for Slavic Studies

Clowes, in addition to her well-respected scholarship and teaching, has extensive experience in academic administration, in areas such as conference planning, fundraising, grant-writing and creating partnerships to share the excitement of learning and research beyond university walls.

"Edith Clowes is a distinguished senior scholar who has been published by the top presses in the field," said David Herman, associate professor and chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. "She has been extremely successful in attracting outside research funding for Slavic programs. And she has a strong strategic vision that will help us innovate as we seek creative ways to prepare our students for the workplace of the 21st century."

Clowes said U.Va.'s tradition of strong foreign language and area studies programs attracted her to the University, along with its growing interest in interdisciplinary teaching and research.

"I am looking forward to contributing to the life of U.Va.'s rich community of scholars, to building new conversations across disciplinary boundaries, and identifying and enhancing interdisciplinary programs in which students and faculty in Slavic and East European and Eurasian area studies can make a real difference," she said.

Clowes received her bachelor's degree in Russian from Oberlin College in 1973. She continued her studies in Slavic languages and literature at Yale University, receiving a master's degree in 1977 and a doctoral degree in 1981. She worked in U.Va.'s Slavic department as an assistant professor for a year.

At Kansas, she teaches late 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature and culture, post-Soviet literature and culture, and beginning Czech. Her research interests include the intersections between literature and philosophy, intellectual history, comparative literature (especially German and Russian), and literary and cultural theory.

Her most recent books include "Russia on the Edge: Imagined Geographies and Post-Soviet Identity" (Cornell, 2011) and "Fiction's Overcoat: Russian Literary Culture and the Question of Philosophy" (Cornell, 2004). She is a past winner of major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

In the fall, she will teach the undergraduate course, "Civilization and Culture of Russia," as well as a graduate course, "Russian Postmodernism."

About the Marvin Rosenblum Professorship in Mathematics

The Marvin Rosenblum Professorship in Mathematics was made possible by a $3 million gift in 2011 from Mendel Rosenblum, a 1984 mathematics graduate of the College, and his wife, Diane Greene, to honor his father, a former chair of U.Va.'s Department of Mathematics. For 45 years, Marvin Rosenblum taught, directed dissertations and became known internationally as an expert in operator theory and analysis. His discovery that absolutely continuous spectra are stable under small perturbations remains one of the cornerstones of perturbation theory. Marvin Rosenblum retired from the University in 2000 and died in 2003.

About the Brown-Forman Professorship in Arts & Sciences

Created in 1982, the Brown-Forman Professorship in Arts & Sciences is assigned to a distinguished faculty member in the College. The professorship was funded by a gift from the Kentucky-based Brown-Forman Corp., and made possible by W.L. Lyons Brown Jr., a 1958 graduate of the College, former Brown-Forman chairman and chief executive officer and a past member of the Board of Visitors, and his mother, Sara Shallenberger Brown.

– by Charlotte Crystal