Jesús Gregorio Smith has been awarded a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellowship. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Jesús Gregorio Smith, an assistant professor of ethnic studies at Lawrence University, has been awarded a 12-month Career Enhancement Fellowship that supports the career development of underrepresented junior faculty in the arts and humanities.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fellowships – some year-long and others six-month – have been awarded to 30 tenure-track faculty and two adjunct faculty across the country.

Smith, who joined Lawrence in 2017 and helped to launch Ethnic Studies as a major, will use the sabbatical to continue his research and writing on the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality online and how they influence sexual health.

“I believe in this work and its importance,” Smith said. “This fellowship will allow me to turn all the work I have collected into a book that presents my findings to the public.”

For more on Ethnic Studies at Lawrence, see here.

Smith has taught classes on such topics as research methods in communities of color, sociology of black Americans, and sociology of Latinx. He has organized the annual Continuing Significance of Race undergraduate conference.

“The courses Jesús teaches, which are deeply informed by his research, have had a tremendously positive impact on our campus community,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Gunther Kodat. “It’s intensely gratifying to see his important, ground-breaking work acknowledged by the prestigious Wilson Foundation, and to envision how this fellowship will allow it to have an even greater, national effect.”

A native of El Paso, Texas, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso, and a Ph.D. in sociology from Texas A&M University. A book he contributed to and co-edited, Home and Community for Queer Men of Color: The Intersections of Race and Sexuality, was published earlier this year through Lexington Books.

The Career Enhancement Fellowship, in place since 2001, seeks to increase the presence of underrepresented junior and other faculty members in the arts and humanities by creating career development opportunities based on promising research projects. The program provides Fellows with a sabbatical stipend; a research, travel, or publication stipend; mentoring; and participation in a professional development retreat.

Earning the Fellowship is testament to the growth of the Ethnic Studies program at Lawrence and the important work being done at liberal arts colleges, Smith said.

“I believe it’s time liberal arts colleges and ethnic studies programs get this level of recognition,” he said. “This fellowship is really about aiding teachers who are dedicated to diversity and racial justice in conducting and finishing their research so that their work is taken seriously in the academic community and so that their dedication to racial justice is amplified. This is the sort of work I do already in the Ethnic Studies program at Lawrence. That is built into the DNA of our program.”

He credits Ariela Rosa, associate director of corporate, foundation, and sponsored research support, for guiding him through the Fellowship application, and he applauds Carla Daughtry, associate professor of anthropology and chair of Ethnic Studies, and the professors from other departments who teach courses in Ethnic Studies for helping to make the path to this Fellowship possible.

“This win is a win for Ethnic Studies at Lawrence,” Smith said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu