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1855 Professorships 

1855 Professorships is an Office of the Provost initiative to enhance the academic experience and student success by elevating the academic quality and reputation at MSU. In addition to aligning with the MSU 2030 DEI strategic theme, the development of Advancing Inclusive Excellence at MSU resulted in the creation of 1855 Professorships.  

For the first year of implementation, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences jointly requested an open call for proposals from the college deans.

1855 stories

MSU welcomes, honors inaugural 1855 Professorship recipients

Celebrating the first cohort of Spartan professors dedicated to advancing MSU’s diversity, equity and inclusion objectives.

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Religious Studies Professor Returns to Her Native Community for 1855 Professorship

Blaire Morseau grew up in New Jersey and spent most of her life there, including her undergraduate years at Rutgers University, yet she considers Michigan her home.

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1855 Professor: Researching and Teaching Native American Environmental Ethics

Elan Pochedley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University, focuses much of his research and teaching on understanding the sustainable stewardship that Native Americans have demonstrated toward waters, plants, fish, wildlife, and their food systems.

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LIFTing voices and shaping the future of journalism

Academics and journalists from across the Midwest gathered in the WKAR studios last month, following a flame sparked by Danielle K. Brown, 1855 Professor of Community and Urban Journalism at Michigan State University.

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For the first year of implementation, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences jointly requested an open call for proposals from the college deans. The proposal review process consisted of a holistic approach with these criteria in mind:

  • Is the proposal clear about the colleges and departments that will host the hired faculty and the percentage FTE split?  
  • Is this position interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, cross departmental or cross college?  
  • How likely is the proposed search process to attract a diverse pool of high-caliber candidates?  
  • Does the proposal describe how the position will enhance existing collaborations or foster new ones that advance MSU's DEI objectives?  
  • Does the proposal describe the strengths of the participating units and their past, present, or future investments in this area?  
  • Will the proposed position transform MSU’s impact on minoritized, marginalized, and/or underrepresented communities (on campus and off)?  
  • How well does the proposal describe the importance, novelty and transformational potential of the faculty position?  
  • How detailed is the proposal about the specific areas of research, teaching and community engagement?  
  • What is the level of financial and other resource commitments by the college and/or the department to support the position, post-hire?  
  • How specific is the proposal on how it will advance MSU’s Strategic/DEI Priorities?  
  • How well does this proposal describe how the unit(s) will attract a diverse pool of high-caliber candidates? 

This resulted in a competitive review of 76 impressive proposals from across the university, with every college participating in the open call process. The proposals were reviewed by a committee comprised of scholars and administrators. The 13 transformational proposals chosen to advance MSU’s DEI strategic goals can be categorized in the following areas:  

  • Social and Environmental Justice 
  • Minority Politics, Urban Journalism, Law and Democracy  
  • Diversity and Data Science 
  • One Health 

These categories will serve as the professorship cohorts to advance collaboration and help build each area's research, teaching, and outreach agendas at MSU. Searches have been approved to move forward and our inaugural class of 1855 Professors will be in place by the end of the next academic year. 


Position Summaries

Great Lakes Anishinaabe Knowledge, Spiritualities, and Cultural Practices  

  • College of Arts and Letters 
  • The Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Letters seeks a scholar with a focus on Anishinaabe communities, and more broadly, Great Lakes Native American cultures. The scholar’s area of interests should include Anishinaabe worldviews, ceremony, knowledge systems, and communal cultural practices in the context of colonialisms, resistance, resiliency, and sovereignty. The specific area of research is open, with preference to knowledge of traditions of Anishinaabe communities, and more broadly, Great Lake Native American cultures. The holder of this position will have a sustained record of community-based engagement with a commitment to build relationships with local communities through teaching, research, and service.   

School of Planning, Design, and Construction New Faculty Advancing Inclusive Excellence 

  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 
  • The School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) seeks a scholar to join its Landscape Architecture Program and bring in expertise on social justice and environmental justice related to planning, design, development, or policy. The candidate will contribute to the school vision for creating sustainable and healthy built, natural, and virtual environments. In addition to the academic home in SPDC, the position is affiliated with the Center for Global Change & Earth Observations and also the Environmental Science and Policy Program. The ideal candidate must have a record of or commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion via research, teaching, or service. The candidate will teach subject areas such as environmental planning, resiliency, and climate adaptation. 

Arts & Climate 

  • The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities 
  • The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) seeks an international leader and globally recognized artist who works on issues of environmental justice, climate change, and/or ecological issues. The ideal candidate must have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and must engage with environmental and climate justice in their own artistic practice. This artistic leader will utilize artistic tools to address environmental concerns in the local, regional, and global context. They must be committed to driving discussions around art and environmental justice in RCAH, at MSU, and across the Great Lakes region. 


Community & Urban Journalism  

  • School of Journalism 
  • The School of Journalism seeks a scholar of Community and Urban Journalism who examines the role of news and information in addressing inequities and works to reimagine and bring about more equitable news ecosystems. Reliable information, rooted in data-driven procedures, good-faith human connection, and compelling and inclusive storytelling, plays an essential role in democratic self-governance at the community level. Reliable information – produced with and for communities – is also therefore essential to addressing persistent social, political, and economic inequities. Research could address a range of issues, for example (1) the growth of so-called news deserts – those urban and rural places where local news is not produced – and the political, economic, and social deficits that follow; and (2) the emergence of conceptually, socially, and technologically innovative journalism initiatives that help communities to understand themselves and thrive. We expect the newly hired faculty member will teach undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on news coverage, or the lack thereof, of race, ethnicity, and inequities in urban and rural communities. 

Inequities in the Law of Democracy  

  • College of Law 
  • The College of Law seeks a scholar whose work will focus on the many legal inequities in the democratic process, including: the impact of U.S. election laws (like restrictions on registration, reduced voting times and locations, and purges of voter rolls) on political power and access; the institutional origins of restrictive election laws and campaign financing systems; the legal tools available to promote a more inclusive political system, such as innovative voting systems and state independent redistricting commissions; and the appropriate roles of courts in reviewing laws that limit the ability of individuals and groups to participate in the political process.  

Minority Politics & Urban Education Policy  

  • Department of Political Science 
  • This urban education politics position is an opportunity to hire a scholar whose research examines inequities in the politics of education as well as solutions and responses that empower minority communities. The Department intends for this position to support students and the community through input and involvement in the Department’s InnovateGov experiential learning program in Detroit for undergraduate and Master of Public Policy students. The position enables the Department of Political Science to unite strengths across programs and departments at MSU. The Department of Political Science hopes to build upon the College of Social Science’s minority politics initiative and capitalize on an established, collaborative network of premier interdisciplinary scholars across the College of Social Science and the College of Education, a national leader in the Education Policy subfield.   


Plant Science 

  • College of Natural Science 
  • MSU is home to one of the top plant biology departments in the country and one of the top U.S. agricultural colleges. That said, there is a strong need to improve faculty diversity and to secure expertise in developmental biology. MSU’s percentages of plant science faculty members in historically underrepresented populations (Black, LatinX, and Indigenous People) is an area of concern. Having greater diversity will have a transformational impact on our plant science and agricultural communities, in addition to providing aspirational role models and mentors. This hire in developmental biology will also help connect research in several areas, including plant genetics, genomics, and molecular biology, which are very strong at MSU.    

Quantum Computing 

  • College of Natural Science 
  • The College of Natural Science seeks a scholar who will provide complementary experimental, algorithmic, or theoretical research strength within MSU’s Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering (MSU-Q) and become engaged in MSU’s ongoing quantum research and education initiatives, including an NSF Phase II Convergence Accelerator. An existing collaboration with an IBM/HBCU coalition provides engagement with a pipeline of faculty from underrepresented populations that have become engaged in quantum computing research.   

Algorithmic Bias 

  • College of Natural Science 
  • The College of Natural Science seeks a scholar who will promote diverse excellence in the computational sciences, and particularly who will address the challenge of algorithmic bias, which is an important emerging topic in statistics, computational science, and data science. The unregulated use of artificial intelligence algorithms trained by biased scientists and/or using biased training sets, are threatening diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our societies by reinforcing rather than alleviating entrenched interests and stereotypes. The candidate for the new position should promote DEI and be interested in building a research program at Michigan State University that focuses on statistical and computational algorithms, with some or all the following specific agenda items in mind: development of statistical and computational algorithms with less bias; data science approaches to auditing algorithmic bias; minimizing algorithmic bias in areas of major societal importance, such as public health, and risk assessment in banking and insurance; and legal aspects and applications of statistical and computational algorithms.   

Data Science 

  • College of Natural Science 
  • The College of Natural Science seeks to hire underrepresented faculty in the broad field of data science across STEM. The Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE), that is shared between NatSci and EGR, is particularly keen to make substantial inroads in this area as part of a broader strategy to effect positive change in data science. Faculty and students in CMSE use data science in many ways, including improving cancer treatments, developing drought-resistant crops, understanding the behavior of hurricanes, and learning how heavy elements are forged in the cosmos. In addition to producing groundbreaking research, this hire will be committed to fostering the continued growth of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community of students, faculty, and staff, and to create courses and curricula that train students across MSU to use data science and computational modeling ethically in their own fields.   


Forests & Green Spaces for Positive Public Health & Environmental Equity 

  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 
  • The Department of Forestry in collaboration with the Division of Public Health seeks an outstanding scholar conducting cutting edge community-engaged research and outreach that contribute to understanding how trees, forests, and urban green spaces affect public health and what strategies lead to optimal and equitable environmental access and health benefits. Access to natural areas is central to physical and mental health through tree impacts on air quality, stormwater dynamics, and mitigating urban health islands. However, minority populations often have been disadvantaged by ‘tree inequity.’ Urban and wildland forestation also is an important strategy for adapting to climate change, with potential benefits for both human health and biodiversity. 

Transdisciplinary Approach to Mitigate One Health Disparities  

  • College of Veterinary Medicine 
  • The College of Veterinary Medicine, is seeking a candidate who will have an established history of leading interdisciplinary research efforts, with an emphasis on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Disciplines of specific interest include epidemiology, disease ecology, human or veterinary medicine, public health policy, or microbiology, with potential for appointment in different departments at MSU such as Epid/Biostats or Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. The candidate will be expected to develop an extramurally funded, collaborative research program with researchers in medicine, veterinary medicine, social science, epidemiology, public health, microbiology, economics, among other disciplines, to advance MSU’s scholarly mission and vision, to enhance equity in public health, and to create a global community more prepared for infectious disease threats. 

Reducing Health Disparities

This multidisciplinary and cross college effort focused on quantitative analysis will advance one of the central objectives of MSU’s strategic plan. Three positions are sought, one each in Economics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Psychology.

  • College of Social Science 
  • The Department of Economics in the College of Social Science seeks to hire a scholar who specializes in Health Economics and will build a long-term capacity for health disparity research at MSU and forge critical synergies between units.  This multidisciplinary and cross-college effort focuses on quantitative analysis to understand the sources of physical and mental health disparities and evaluate programs and policies intended to reduce them.
  • College of Social Science 
  • The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics is looking for expertise-based scientists who can be used to evaluate programs and policies to address health disparities. Quantitative researchers with applicable areas of expertise include but are not limited to design and analyses of quasi-experimental and experimental (randomized trials) data, comparative effectiveness, and causal inference.
  • College of Social Science 
  • The Department of Psychology is seeking to recruit a faculty member with expertise in racial/ethnic health disparities and programmatic efforts to reduce such disparities. The ideal candidate will have established a strong program of visible research, a history of (or clear potential for) external funding, and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in a) undergraduate and graduate teaching, and b) diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are particularly interested in applicants with substantive expertise in addiction, depression, and health psychology as they related to diverse populations as well as applicants with expertise in the assessment of mental health, physical health, and well-being across diverse groups.