Emily Green and Amaka Okechukwu Named 2021-22 Fenwick Fellows

FAIRFAX, VA – September 15, 2021: Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John G. Zenelis is pleased to announce the award recipients for the 2021-22 Fenwick Fellowships: Emily H. Green, Associate Professor of Music History, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and Amaka Okechukwu, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Green’s applied research project, Musical Practices of Early Black Virginians, seeks to document, present, and teach the early performance practices of free and enslaved Black musicians in Virginia. Green’s research will contribute to filling the gap currently existing between contemporary renditions of early songs and historically informed music practices, with a particular focus on colonial and antebellum Virginia. The project’s goals include creating an open-source website with resources for educators, publishing research for the academic community, developing courses for Mason students, and offering musical performances in the region. Professor Green’s Fenwick Fellow year will focus on the research and website creation, with the goal of offering coursework and concerts in the year following her fellowship.

Professor Okechukwu’s digital humanities project, Black Belt Brooklyn: Mapping Community Building and Social Life during the Urban Crisis, aims to map, illustrate, and historicize Black practices of resistance, mutual-aid, institution building, and vitality in Central Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. With this project, Okechukwu’s goal is to push scholarly and popular understandings of the period of urban decline, particularly those conclusions generated about Black agency and cultural responses to urban decline. Her research offers a nuanced interpretation grounded in oral history, archival, visual, and spatial evidence of Black life. By creating a digital humanities project, Professor Okechukwu seeks to make her research more accessible and immersive, bringing viewers into a fuller picture of the social and political life in an urban Black community during the late twentieth century.

Dean Zenelis commented, “Each year the Fenwick Fellows program receives a number of creative and innovative proposals from Mason faculty members, and I am grateful for the work of the review committee in selecting this year’s recipients. It is rewarding to read in the proposals of this year’s fellows of their intent to work with two important centers within the Libraries – the Center for Mason Legacies and the Digital Scholarship Center. The breath of the research offered in these proposals – from applied musical research to digital humanities scholarship – is reflective of the Libraries’ range of collections and expertise. We look forward to hearing about the project results next year when Professors Green and Okechukwu share their findings.”

As is customary for recipients of the Fenwick Fellowship, Professors Green and Okechukwu will present on the outcomes of their projects in Spring 2023 at the annual Fenwick Fellow Lecture hosted by the University Libraries.

ABOUT THE FENWICK FELLOW PROGRAM: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to one or two Mason tenured, tenure-track, or multi-year appointment term faculty members to pursue a research project that uses and enhances the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in their fields. The winning proposals are recommended to the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian by a six-member selection committee including three instructional faculty members and three librarians, with one of the Associate University Librarians serving as administrative coordinator. The recipients are provided with a fully equipped and furnished research office in Fenwick Library and an award of $5,000 to support the recipient’s research project. The term for the fellowship is one academic year.

Libraries seek Fenwick Fellowship proposal judges

The Office of the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian is seeking three instructional faculty, including former Fenwick Fellows, to evaluate the 2021 Fenwick Fellowship proposals this summer. The exact time frame will be determined once the review committee is formed; however, the goal is that the Fellow selection process be completed by the first week in August. Ideally, we seek individuals from the university’s various schools and colleges (especially those that have been under-represented on the review/selection panel in the past), to work alongside three librarian evaluators.

The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to a George Mason faculty member to pursue a research project that uses and enhances the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in his/her field. Up to two Fellowships of $5,000 each may be awarded for research materials and assistance; program guidelines include funding for a second fellowship for a project proposal that specifically aligns with the Libraries’ initiatives in the area of digital scholarship.

Judging proposals will not take up much of your time. This year faculty members are requested to review the applications and then virtually attend or call into a meeting lasting no more than one hour to choose the winning proposal(s). Please contact your subject librarian (https://library.gmu.edu/subject-librarians) if you would like to be considered or if you have any questions. 

Libraries Survey on Journal Article Access

The University Libraries is conducting a survey to learn about Mason researchers’ journal usage and access needs. As journal costs outpace library budgets, the Libraries has been forced to shift some journals from a subscription-based model to an alternative access model, in which articles are available via Open Access or Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  

The survey is available here and will remain open until Thursday, April 29, at 11:59 p.m. The survey is anonymous, unless you specifically request a follow-up email from the Libraries. Survey responses will be used within the Libraries only, to inform journal subscription and renewal decisions. 

If you have any questions about this survey, email Dr. Helen McManus, Head, Collections Strategy, at hmcmanus@gmu.edu

To learn more about the Libraries’ recent efforts to further sustainable collection practices, visit our Sustainable Collections site

2021-22 Fenwick Fellows Program Announced

The University Libraries will begin accepting applications for this year’s Fenwick Fellow competition on Thursday, April 1. The Fellowship is awarded annually to eligible Mason faculty members to support a research project that uses and enhances the Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in his or her field.

Up to two Fellowships of $5,000 each may be awarded. The program guidelines include funding for an additional fellowship for a project proposal that specifically aligns with the Libraries’ initiatives in the area of digital scholarship. For the full announcement and application details, visit the program site.

The application deadline is Tuesday, June 1, 2021, and the awardee(s) will be announced at the start of the Fall academic term. In the Spring term following the completed fellowship, the University Libraries sponsors a public lecture in which the Fellows present the results of their research.

For additional information, contact Debra Hogan, Executive Specialist to the Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, at dhogan1@gmu.edu.

New Library Tool Available for Faculty to Manage Course Reading Lists

In support of Mason’s teaching and learning experience, the Libraries is adding Leganto to the Libraries’ portfolio of technology tools. Leganto, offered by Ex Libris, is a resource list management system that integrates with other Libraries systems as well as Blackboard.

The acquisition of this tool, in conjunction with the university’s expanded virtual environment, marks a strategic shift for the Libraries – moving away from the idea of a physical “course reserves” module to a university-wide reading list management system where the instructor develops a reading list within a Blackboard course, then pushes it to the Libraries for centralized processing.  

With Leganto, faculty can collect a wide range of content – from library resources to YouTube videos – in a dynamic and user-friendly add-on to their course. We anticipate it will make the work of instructional faculty much easier for reading or viewing material for their courses, as well as tracking statistics of what has been read (or marked done) by students. Leganto will enable the Libraries to become more efficient in supplying needed content to courses, and it will provide reliability and consistency for students accessing materials. 

The Libraries is preparing for a soft launch of the Leganto platform in Fall 2020, with a cohort of faculty who will receive training on using the system and who will provide feedback on its integration into their courses. If you would like to be part of this group for Fall 2020, please contact Melanie Bopp, Head of Access Services, at mbopp@gmu.edu or Janna Mattson, Online Learning Coordinator and Instructional Librarian, at jmattso1@gmu.edu.

We expect to fully implement Leganto university-wide in the Spring 2021 semester, at which time our current Course Reserves request system will be retired. We will be exploring a host of additional features to add to Leganto in the spring, such as streamlined purchase requests for faculty, and quick and easy copyright checks.