Folklore Professor Jason Jackson honored with annual Faculty Mentor Award
Indiana University doctoral student Kimberly J. Marshall recalls the first time she met Jason Jackson, an IU associate professor of folklore in the College of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of this year's Faculty Mentor Award. The award is presented to one professor annually by the IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization and the University Graduate School.
An anthropology and ethnomusicology student in the College, Marshall said Jackson immediately began introducing her to people in areas of research.
"The first time I met him, he said, 'Oh, and have you met so-and-so and so-and-so? Let me introduce you,'" Marshall recalled. "One time, he found out I was spending a few weeks in Philadelphia, and he said 'Good thing you told me! You should spend some time at the Archives of the American Philosophical Society while you're there. You never know when you might find something useful.' I never would have thought of doing that, but it was a wonderful experience. He was readily available and supportive, even when I was in the field."
Jackson received the award yesterday (April 28) during a reception at the Wells House in Bloomington.
"I am, needless to say, very moved and humbled by this honor," said Jackson, who is also editor of Museum Anthropology Review, a gold open access journal that he and his colleagues founded in early 2007. "I am fortunate to work so closely with so many great students."
In addition to his primary appointment in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Jackson is an adjunct associate professor of anthropology and an affiliated faculty member in the American Studies Program and the Cultural Studies Program at IU. He works with students in all of these areas.
"Jason is about as conscientious a mentor as I have ever seen," said IU Professor John McDowell, chair of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.
Matthew Pratt Guterl, Rudy Professor of American Studies and History and director of the American Studies program calls Jackson "one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful and most sincere faculty members at IU."
"He has been absolutely instrumental in our efforts here to create a program in Native American and Indigenous Studies, working with me/us on everything from draft syllabi, to degree proposals, to governance concerns," Guterl said. "He is gifted at managing the small details and the big picture."
In a letter informing Jackson of the nomination, Graduate and Professional Student Organization coordinator Angela Jones described the award as a prestigious honor given once a year to a single IU Bloomington faculty member who has demonstrated "outstanding commitment and mentorship to graduate students at IU Bloomington."
One of those students, doctoral candidate Gabrielle Berlinger, of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, calls Jackson "a constant inspiration to me as a professor, an advisor, a supervisor and a colleague, and a driving force of intellectual development and public work in our department."
Wrote Berlinger of Jackson in her nomination letter: "He concurrently works in museums, classrooms, virtual arenas and archives, mastering multi-layered intellectual projects, meticulous research, and public practice -- and all while maintaining such high levels of humility, honesty, and gratitude, that I am humbled by his ethics, demonstrated in his efforts."
In addition to his many professional accomplishments, she wrote, Jackson's individual support led her to choose him as both her master's thesis advisor and now her dissertation director.
Another folklore doctoral candidate, Suzanne Godby Ingalsbe, calls working with Jackson "like taking a master class in academia."
"He'll not only write the letter of recommendation for your grant/workshop/job, he'll make sure you know about the relevant opportunities in the first place, and he'll help you prep for them," she said. "Jason is incredibly accessible, whether after a lecture, in office hours, or over an informal lunch. And while he's tirelessly assisting and encouraging his students, he's simultaneously providing exemplary service to the department and his disciplines. I don't think any of us have quite figured out how Jason does all that he does, but we're all very grateful."
Folklore doctoral candidate Teri Klassen said that in her first-ever class with Jackson, he taught her the wisdom of starting to make a name in the field by engaging with controversies in established areas of folklore study. "At the same time, he taught me to be deferential to scholarship that has gone before, even while challenging it, in order to maintain good relations with influential senior scholars and uphold collegiality in the field," Klassen said.
An ethnographer whose work bridges the fields of folklore, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology and ethnomusicology, Jackson has collaborated with Native American communities in Oklahoma since 1993, when he began a lifelong personal and research relationship with the Yuchi people. In addition to the ethnography and ethnology of Eastern North America, he is increasingly pursuing projects that explore emerging issues in the areas of intellectual property, cultural property and heritage policy.
Much of his career has been spent working as a curator in museum contexts, and he remains deeply engaged with research in, and teaching about, museums, especially museums of art and ethnography.
"I can't say enough good things about Jason," said Marshall, who calls him a wonderful teacher and an outstanding mentor who takes time to give students good advice and the logistical support they need to achieve goals. "He is easily one of the best things about my experience as a Ph.D. student at IU."
Faculty Mentor Award
The IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization award is given to one professor each spring. All graduate and professional students are invited to give their support to faculty members that they feel deserve special recognition for exemplary behavior.
Past recipients of the Faculty Mentor award are James Pershing (School of Education, 2010); Andrea Walton (School of Education, 2009); Colin Allen (History and Philosophy of Science, 2008); Michael Reece (Applied Health Sciences, 2007); Randall Bramley (Computer Science, 2006), Pheadra Pezzullo (Communication and Culture, 2005); Laura Stachowski (School of Education, 2004); Susan Gubar (English, 2003); and William Yarber (Applied Health Sciences, 2002).
For more information, see http://www.indiana.edu/~gpso/faculty-mentor-award.php.