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Marla Jaksch named third recipient of the Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement

Marla Jaksch has been at the forefront of advancing faculty-student research collaboration at TCNJ for 11 years. Now, as the third recipient of the Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement, she’s aiming to enhance inclusion, diversity, community, and belonging at TCNJ.

Jaksch’s proposed project invites the TCNJ community to consider how the campus environment might become a more welcoming and inclusive space, building on the collegewide theme of “Resilience.”

“The visible presence of diverse heritage in our community could offer a sense of connection to both the past and the present,” she explains. “For instance, how might we, as a campus community, reflect upon and visibly acknowledge our connection to the indigenous people who once lived on the land where the campus now stands?”

With expertise and guidance from Monument Lab, a public art and history studio based in Philadelphia, Jaksch aims to cultivate and facilitate critical discussions of memory, history, trauma and healing, and how public art can assist us in grappling with complex issues regarding belonging and public space.

“We are attached to places we live and learn in and we can create significant bonds with these places,” Jaksch says. “What are the bonds we have to this place we call TCNJ? Having places that make people feel comfortable and appreciated is linked to a sense of well-being and quality of life. How might we make intentional changes to and reconsideration of, places on campus that might allow all people who live and work here to experience belonging and well-being?”

One way might be through the development and reconceptualization of memorials and monuments as a way of sharing diverse public cultural heritage at TCNJ, she suggests. 

Additional projects will include teaching students about research and archive management through documenting the history of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at TCNJ over the past 50 years, and bringing artists Lily Yeh and Janani Balasubramanian to campus for interdisciplinary projects and lectures.

“Dr. Jaksch is an exemplar of TCNJ’s teacher-scholar model, and she has outlined a robust plan for promoting faculty-student collaborations — both across disciplines and with the college’s community partners,” says Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59. “I am thrilled to continue supporting TCNJ’s teacher-scholars and look forward to seeing this important work progress.”

Jaksch will serve a three-year term as chair beginning July 1, 2021.

Learn more about the Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement.


— Emily W. Dodd ’03