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Dr. Stella Čapek Named Elbert L. Fausett Distinguished Professor of Sociology

Capek, Stella - 20101007 - 11583361CONWAY, Ark. (May 15, 2017) – Hendrix College sociology professor Dr. Stella Čapek was recently named the Elbert L. Fausett Distinguished Professor of Sociology.

Established in 1980, the professorship honors Elbert L. Fausett, a leading Arkansas businessman and realtor and long-time friend of the College.  

Čapek, who will be officially recognized at a convocation in the fall, is the fourth Hendrix faculty member to hold the honor. Previous recipients include Dr. George H. Thompson (1980 – 1991), Dr. Robert C. Eslinger (1997 – 2004), and Dr. Thomas E. Goodwin (2004 – 2016).  

“Receiving this recognition is both humbling and inspiring, and I feel graced by the support of my colleagues, who through their creativity, dedication, and collaborative spirit constitute my community at Hendrix College and beyond,” said Čapek. “Teaching is an enormously demanding profession, including challenging students to develop both a critical eye and a hopeful spirit. I love engaging students in a dialogue about the not so obvious social structures in our society, and I am particularly pleased that Hendrix has supported my commitment to teaching and learning about social justice.”

“I’ve never forgotten the privilege that teaching carries with it, including getting to see students graduate and find a meaningful place in the world, and to hear back from them that what they learned in a sociology class has turned into very “usable” knowledge (sometimes to their surprise!),” she said.

Čapek attended Carleton College and Boston University as an undergraduate. She received a bachelor’s degree from Boston University in 1975. After some international travel that included working as an English language editor in Kuwait, she went on to the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a master’s degree in 1981 and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1985. She taught at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas for one year before joining the Hendrix faculty in 1986, when she replaced retiring professor Ferris Baker.

Her courses at Hendrix have covered a wide variety of topics, including sociology of the environment, food, cities, gender, medicine, and social movements, as well as social theory and research methods. She has also taught in the Hendrix summer semester program in Costa Rica, and designed a creative writing course (Exploring Nature Writing) that is cross-listed in the English and Sociology/Anthropology Departments. Čapek’s Food, Culture, and Nature course “models the many ways in which her innovative teaching has impacted students’ lives and shaped the vocational paths of many Hendrix alums,” wrote a group of colleagues in the distinguished professorship nomination. “She is a master teacher whose energy, intellectual rigor, and rapport with students are exemplary.”

Čapek was the recipient of the 2005-06 Exemplary Teacher Award from the United Methodist Church General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) for exemplifying excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value-centered education; and service to students, the institution, and the community.

In addition to teaching, colleagues cited Čapek’s accomplishments, influence, and productivity as a writer, noting that, every year since 1990, she has published a peer-reviewed article, book, or chapter; presented a paper at a professional conference; or given an invited talk.

Čapek’s professional service spans local, state, and national activities, including her election as Chair of the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association, her service on the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas Sociology and Anthropology Association, and numerous campus and community committees.

“As a member of a small college, it can be easy to lose sight of our colleagues’ national and international influence,” said Hendrix anthropology professor Dr. Anne J. Goldberg. “Stella has that reach, but she also has been a wonderful departmental colleague. She finds opportunities to work locally and she has been a tremendous champion for our department and our students. I feel lucky to have her as a colleague and friend.

Her accomplishments are even more noteworthy given all she has done in the challenging context of a very small department. Building on earlier efforts by her former colleague Dr. Jim Bruce, Čapek played a major role in sustaining and expanding the College’s original two-person Sociology Department into the current Department of Sociology and Anthropology. This progress required frequent cycles as department chair, faculty search committees, and ensuring essential courses are offered during sabbaticals and personnel changes.

“She’s successfully managed these demands while still maintaining the highest standards of teaching and scholarly activity,” wrote her colleagues. And “she has had many more departmental and collegiate responsibilities than the average faculty member, so her consistent productivity as a teacher, scholar, and writer is even more noteworthy.”

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.