Professor Eve Troutt Powell’s appointment as the School of Arts & Sciences Associate Dean for Graduate Studies went into effect on July 1. The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Powell to discuss her goals for her new role and her experience thus far.
The Daily Pennsylvanian: You taught for 10 years at the University of Georgia. Why did you choose to come to Penn?
Eve Troutt Powell: It was a job in which I was able to work with graduate students and I couldn’t do that at UGA because there were no graduate students and they didn’t really have a program in Middle East studies.
DP: Can you talk about the book you just finished writing?
EP: It’s called “Tell This in My Memory”… it’s a book about the legacy of slavery in the modern Middle East.
DP: How does your experience as a professor and author play into your new role?
EP: I’m trying to save a little time to still be a professor and to still be a researcher and to still work with graduate students and actually still work with undergraduates so we will see how this goes. I try to do many things all the time.
DP: What was your reaction upon receiving the appointment?
EP: I was really honored and I was really delighted and I am particularly happy that the University is working to have more faculty of color in positions of senior administration.
DP: What is your first priority?
EP: I’d like to get through the first year without any major mistakes, but I am really committed to two things. One is showing the University and … all of the graduate groups how important graduate study is … and the many important roles that graduate students play in the life of the University … [and] trying to have graduate students feel valued because it’s a long, hard road to writing a dissertation. And second of all, making sure that we have a diverse group — multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-racial — of students who will expand their educational possibilities … in the future.
DP: What are your long-term goals?
EP: I would very much like to have graduate chairs across different departments in the School of Arts & Sciences understand what other graduate chairs in very different departments do.
It’s important for people in biology to have a sense of what people in history do. It’s important for people in English to have a sense of what people in [economics] do. It’s important for the political scientists to understand what the physicists do.
I would like to create some kind of level of dialogue in terms of graduate training that’s broader and deeper across the School of Arts & Sciences.