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Meet 3 new IU Bloomington faculty members

Aug 25, 2020

Classes started this week at Indiana University Bloomington for thousands of students, but also for more than 200 new faculty at the campus.

Of the 202 new faculty, 40 percent are researchers, 32 percent are tenured or tenured-track faculty and librarians, and 20 percent are visiting faculty. They represent 26 countries, and nearly 40 percent are faculty of color.

Inside IU Bloomington recently caught up with three of the new faculty members to learn a little more about them and their work, and why they came to IU.

Tennisha Riley

Assistant professor of human development, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, School of Education

Tennisha Riley will teach an undergraduate course, Adolescents in a Learning Community, and a graduate course, Biological Bases of Behavior, this academic year. Riley’s research focuses on adolescents and their emotion expression and regulation. Specific study focuses on understanding the emotional development of Black youth, such as how social contexts influence emotion expression and regulation.

Q: What was the appeal of coming to Indiana University to teach?

A: I initially came to IU as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society. I was drawn to CRRES’ mission to support race and ethnicity scholarship, and I wanted to be a part of the Center’s efforts to develop a strong scholarly community here at IU.

After completing my postdoctoral fellowship, I chose to accept my current position in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. I saw that my commitment to research on Black youth racial identity development and social-emotional well-being was highly valued by my new colleagues and students. Overall, IU has developed into a good fit for me as a professor, and I am looking forward to the new academic year.

A graphic lists statistics related to the IU Bloomington 2020-21 faculty class
An accessible version of this graphic is available online.Graphic by Tyler Lake, Indiana University

Q: What do you like about being a professor, and how do you hope to impact students?

A: What I like most about being a professor is the opportunity to teach and mentor students in ways that were not always available to me when I was a student. I love to challenge students’ lay beliefs about psychology and, in particular, the psychological development of adolescents.

I make it a goal in my teaching to help students understand how to transfer classroom knowledge to real-world context. I also urge students to be critical of the current knowledge in psychology and adolescent development so that they might develop a sense of agency to create change in their communities. If students can leave my classroom and have open and informed conversations about how psychology impacts our lives with their friends and family, then I feel fulfilled in my purpose.

Q: What do you think of Bloomington so far?

A: I am not a Midwestern person at all. But because I came to Bloomington as a postdoctoral fellow in 2018, I have had some time to be in awe at the beauty of the Midwestern landscape as well as the IU campus.

Right now, Bloomington is too quiet! I am looking forward to students coming back into town, and I am hoping for a safe and healthy end to the pandemic. IU students bring vibrance and diversity to Bloomington, both in their presence and their ideals. Bloomington and the world can use some of that right now.

Steven W. Webster

Assistant professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences

Steven W. Webster researches the nature of political behavior and public opinion within the United States. Specific focuses include the forces driving mass polarization; how voters form perceptions of political actors (candidates, parties, related political entities); and how signals from party elites shape voters’ beliefs and attitudes. His forthcoming book is “American Rage: How Anger Shapes Our Politics.”

Q: What do you like about being a professor, and how do you hope to impact students?

A: The best part about being a professor is getting to work with enthusiastic students. I think back to my time as an undergraduate, and I remember all of the professors who not only taught me well but also inspired me to pursue my career goals. I hope to be able to do both of those things for my students.

I want to be able to help students grow in their knowledge of American government and develop into good democratic citizens. But, just as important, I want to be able to offer a bit of encouragement and support whenever and however I can.

Q: What will teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic be like for you?

A: It will certainly be an adjustment! I am teaching a graduate seminar on political psychology and American political behavior this semester that is scheduled to meet in person. So, we will all be wearing masks and doing our best to social distance.

I am teaching two courses in the spring – one at the undergraduate level and one for graduate students – that will both meet online. I’m hopeful that students will remain engaged and interested in the material despite the less-than-ideal conditions.

Q: What do you think of Bloomington so far?

A: Bloomington is great! I’m an avid runner, so I have enjoyed exploring all of the trails and pathways throughout the city. Additionally, I have found the people here to be quite friendly and welcoming.

Beatrice Capote

Associate professor of contemporary dance, Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance, College of Arts and Sciences

Beatrice Capote is a Cuban-American contemporary dancer, choreographer, educator and founder of Contempo: Capotechnique Exercises. She is a member of the Tony Award-nominated Camille A. Brown and Dancers company. She was the choreographer for “Citrus,” a choreopoem play presented by Northern Stage, and is working on her latest solo work, “Reyita,” a biographical novel of a Black Cuban woman during the 20th century.

Q: What was the appeal of coming to Indiana University to teach?

A: I have based my decisions on energy radiating externally and internally.

The first appeal of coming to Indiana University was the warm welcome and good energy I felt in December when I taught and showed my Afro-Cuban contemporary dance work to the students and faculty in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance and African American Dance Company. The second is the ability to continue your craft through research, collaboration with interdisciplinary departments and being innovative as professional leaders.

The third is community building. I learned that at IU, there are faculty who study and specialize in Cuban folklore either through music, ethnomusicology, dance and more. There is also quite a Cuban/Cuban-American population here, and I am looking forward to getting to know the IU community.

Q: What do you like about being a professor, and how do you hope to impact students?

A: Professorship gives me inspiration, invigoration, room for improvement, improvisation, constant growth and radical honesty. I hope to impact the students with generosity, radical honesty and autonomy.

I am a dancer, dance maker, educator, innovator and collaborator. In my dance trajectory, it was always important to maintain my autonomy and build a business model/entrepreneurship. My autonomy begins with Cuban culture and all the many historical references developed. I hope to expand students’ knowledge with these beliefs and the understanding of their individual power.

Q: What will teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic be like for you?

A: Teaching during pandemic will be constant breathing exercises, many experiments and improvisation. Dance journey is an adventure, and dance makers/movers adapt to change.

There are some positive attributes that I have undertaken during COVID while teaching, and I am looking forward to continuing. I mostly just think of Maya Angelou’s quote: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”


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