HWS faculty members recently acknowledged three of their colleagues’ work as educators, scholars and community leaders with the annual faculty prizes. Based on the recommendations of fellow HWS faculty, the Committee on Faculty Research and Honors recognized Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Anderson, who received the faculty prize for scholarship; Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer, who was awarded the faculty prize for teaching; and Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams, who was honored with the faculty prize for community service.
Anderson’s research, scholarship and service have revolved around his decades-long work with the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming, focused on language, religion, life history and other aspects of Arapaho culture. He is the author of three books — The Four Hills of Life: Northern Arapaho Knowledge and Life Movement, One Hundred Years of Old Man Sage: An Arapaho Life Story and Arapaho Women’s Quillwork: Motion, Life, and Creativity — as well as more than a dozen articles and short works published in scholarly journals. He has served as an Arapaho language and culture instructor at Arapaho summer camps and lent his expertise to three Arapaho language textbooks and one children’s book.
Recognizing “the resonance between the major episodes in his writing life and the themes which have characterized his work,” Anderson’s faculty prize citation “applauded the quiet and steady commitment to the Arapaho and their lived experience.”
Prior to joining the HWS faculty in 2008, Anderson taught at Colby College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Mankato State University and other institutions. He holds a B.A. from Knox College in 1980, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
An HWS faculty member since 2008, Shafer teaches courses on the culture and history of media, including television, film, advertising and the Internet. In addition to her academic duties at the Colleges, she has helped organize local and national workshops on media studies pedagogy and has presented widely at conferences and symposia.
Shafer, the prize citation notes, “has given tireless attention to imparting attentiveness to students studying the greatest influences on their lives and on our culture: the forms of popular, social and digital media…[She] has sustained her contribution to critical pedagogy…[and] has gained national recognition for her innovative, collaborative and technology-rich approaches to teaching new media.”
A scholar and artist, Shafer was awarded a research residency with the experimental media art collaborative Signal Culture in 2016, and her experimental documentary Declaration of Sentiments Wesleyan Chapel has been screened in juried film festivals. Her criticism and scholarship on media studies pedagogy has been widely published and anthologized. She holds an A.B., M.A. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and has taught at Ithaca College and for the Bard Prison Initiative, where she served as campus coordinator.
“Through her continued engagement with national arts organizations, she has not only had a sustaining impact on the dance companies who have come to campus, she has elevated the national status of the Dance Department and has provided consistent and enriching programming for the HWS community and the larger Finger Lakes region,” the citation notes.
With internationally renowned choreographer and performer Bill Evans, Williams has been co-director of the Somatic Dance Conference and Performance Festival since its inception in 2013. The conference, now in its third year at HWS, has become the largest gathering of somatic educators and artists in the country. Williams also coordinates the Bill Evans Teachers Institute, hosted in conjunction with the Somatic Dance Conference.
A member of the New York State DanceForce, the statewide dance think-tank, Williams regularly brings dance companies and choreographers to campus and the regional community. During the 2017-18 academic year alone, her extensive grant writing efforts helped secure the majority of funds needed for the Camille A Brown & Dancers residency.
Currently serving as chair of the HWS Dance Department, Williams joined the Colleges’ faculty in 1986, holding a B.F.A. in dance and B.S. in psychology from the University of Utah and an M.F.A. in dance from Connecticut College.