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Marsha Collins
Marsha Collins

Marsha Collins, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty member since 1988, has been appointed the Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education.

The appointment is through June 2018. In her new role, Collins directs the Royster Society of Fellows, the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School’s most selective fellowship program.

David Pfennig, a professor in the Department of Biology, served as Royster Distinguished Professor from fall 2012 through June 2015.

Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Royster’s generous gifts established the interdisciplinary Royster Society of Fellows. Since 1996, more than 650 graduate students from throughout the world have pursued their doctoral education at Carolina as members of the Royster Society. In 2009, UNC-Chapel Hill established the Royster Distinguished Professorship, made possible by a lead gift from the Roysters and matching funds from the state’s faculty endowment trust.

“Dr. Collins has been recognized for her excellence in teaching,” said Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School. “She is also exceptionally accomplished in her academic field, bringing literature, history, art and culture together in new and compelling ways. Dr. Collins recognizes that encouraging new ideas is central to success in teaching and research. For this and many other reasons, we look forward to the ways she will help Royster fellows develop to their full academic potential.”

Collins, an internationally known scholar of early modern Spanish literature and culture, previously served as the Marcel Bataillon Distinguished Term Professor of Comparative Literature (2009-2014) in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Her research focuses on the literature of early modern Spain in a comparative context, often dealing with idealizing forms of fiction, European court culture and the relationship between literature and the visual arts. The author of three books and more than 30 articles, Collins frequently makes presentations at national and international conferences. Her recently completed book, Imagining Arcadia in Renaissance Romance, is scheduled for publication by Routledge in spring 2016.

Collins’ previous leadership roles within UNC-Chapel Hill include director of the Program in Comparative Literature and of Graduate Studies and Graduate Admissions in Romance Languages, and assistant provost for women’s issues.

Her UNC-Chapel Hill honors and awards include the John L. Sanders Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Service and the Mary Turner Lane Award from the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals. Also within UNC-Chapel Hill, she is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars and a fellow of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

She has directed the theses for 14 master of arts students and mentored five doctoral students in the preparation of their dissertations.

“Royster fellows work in diverse academic fields and they meet regularly to discuss their research, plan outreach and engage in a wide variety of professional development activities, such as developing interdisciplinary first-year seminars for undergraduates,” said Sandra Hoeflich, associate dean for interdisciplinary education and fellowships within The Graduate School. “Dr. Collins sees enormous potential within these student collaborations, and we welcome her enthusiasm and her great ideas.”

Collins said she plans to encourage the global and interdisciplinary aspects of the Royster Society, in particular, and will work with the fellows to collaborate with peers at universities in other countries.

“The Royster Society of Fellows is a supportive group with a unique opportunity to contribute a variety of ideas and critical perspectives to complex issues with global implications,” she said. “It’s exciting to work with these exceptional, highly creative thinkers who are already making major contributions on our campus and beyond.”

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