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Jean Lee Cole, Ph.D., named inaugural faculty director of community-engaged learning and scholarship

| By Nick Alexopulos
Jean Lee Cole Loyola University Maryland
Jean Lee Cole, Ph.D. (photo by Howard Korn)

Jean Lee Cole, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Loyola University Maryland, has been named faculty director of community-engaged learning and scholarship.

The new, three-year renewable faculty leadership position provides vision and direction in fostering community-engaged learning and scholarship among faculty and students, both undergraduate and graduate. In this role, Cole will work closely with the office of academic affairs and the Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ) to imagine, encourage, and help faculty enact thoughtful ways to connect community needs with academic endeavors in mutually beneficial partnerships.

“Service-learning is a transformative pedagogy that I have carried over into other areas of my work,” said Cole. “After the Baltimore uprising in spring 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, I became committed to addressing more directly in my teaching and my public writing issues surrounding race, diversity, economic inequality, and urban decline and revitalization. This position gives me a way to explicitly fulfill that commitment while collaborating with stakeholders in our campus and Baltimore community to strengthen community-engaged learning and scholarship at Loyola.”

Cole joined the English department in 2001 and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2007. She received her B.A. in English from Carleton College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas-Austin. She is the author or editor of several volumes and peer-reviewed articles that explore the works of multiethnic American writers, American periodicals, and American visual culture, including Zora Neale Hurston: Collected Plays (2008) and Freedom's Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner (2013). She is also an editor of the academic journal American Periodicals and a former president of the Research Society for American Periodicals.

Cole teaches courses in American literature, focusing on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; in her courses she has incorporated service-learning, research on literary communities in Baltimore—past and present—and public and online exhibit projects. She has also served in key institutional capacities, as the founding director of the American Studies program, a member of the Board on Rank and Tenure and Messina Advisory Board, and as academic internship coordinator in the English department.

In fall 2015 she co-organized a faculty petition, signed by more than 200 faculty members, in support of students acting against racism. In addition, she led efforts to establish the faculty Thinkspace on Race and Diversity, an intranet-based forum for Loyola faculty to discuss race and diversity on campus.

Academic affairs and service leadership announced Cole’s appointment in an email to the Loyola community this week.

“We are thrilled to have such an energetic and accomplished scholar and teacher in this new faculty leadership role. This appointment reflects a commitment to community engagement and civic engagement as central to [Loyola’s] Jesuit educational mission.”

Community-engaged learning and scholarship can include a range of mutually beneficial forms of academic community engagement, including service-learning, public service internships, community-based research, academic immersion experiences, civic engagement courses, and more. Cole has extensive experience in many of these areas.

She is a resident of Bolton Hill, a neighborhood on Baltimore’s west side. More information about her work is available on her website, jeanleecole.wordpress.com.

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