A new Fellows program launching this year will bring professionals who have expertise in human rights and diversity issues into the St. Francis College community, helping enrich the College's academic curriculum and learning opportunities for students.
SFC will introduce two types of Fellows in the next academic year: Teaching Fellows will work with faculty to develop and instruct courses and host special events, in addition to serving the College outside the classroom. Franciscan Service Fellows will mentor students and spearhead other projects that advance the College's mission of nurturing a learning environment that respects diversity, inclusivity and the inherent dignity of all people. They will develop and teach courses in some cases, too.
Each Fellow will be situated within an academic or administrative department or institute, working closely with one or more faculty members there. The College has already selected the first four inaugural SFC Fellows for the 2021-22 academic year, with more to be named:
- Johnny Perez '18, Director of the U.S. Prisons Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and a criminal justice reform leader. Perez, who graduated from SFC as part of the Post-Prison Program and is a 2020 USA Today Leader of Change, will be a Franciscan Service Fellow in the Post-Prison Program. He will host special events, connect the College and its students with relevant criminal justice reform organizations, and mentor current students in the program.
- K. Bain, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Community Capacity Development, a member of the New York City Racial Justice Commission and a leading community activist. Bain will be a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, where he will help develop the course Human Rights in New York City: Fighting for Human Justice. He will also work with the Institute for Global Engagement, a part of SFC International, to shape a new human rights minor program the College will introduce. In addition, Bain will help develop internships and other co-curricular opportunities for students, connect St. Francis College with elected officials and business leaders, and serve as an inspiring speaker on community engagement and leadership development.
- Fernando Blanco, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies at Bucknell University. Dr. Blanco will be a Franciscan Service Fellow within the Institute for Global Engagement and will work closely with faculty who teach in the International Cultural Studies (ICS) program. He will help SFC International forge deeper relationships with educational institutions in Latin America and develop innovative short-term international programming for Latin American students at SFC. Dr. Blanco will also develop and teach the course Contemporary Challenges to Democracy and Human Rights in Latin America.
- Luna Corbetta, Principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and an inclusive leader with 15+ years of experience driving C-level agendas, including diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Corbetta will be a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Accounting and Business Law, where she will develop and teach the course Business and Human Rights. She will also work with the Institute for Global Engagement to shape SFC's new human rights program, work with students in SFC's Women's Leadership Network and mentor others. Corbetta holds a law degree and a certificate in international human rights.
"The Fellows we invite into the SFC family bring professional experiences and points of view that will prompt students to examine and understand our world through a different, often provocative, lens that may be new to them," said Jennifer Lancaster, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. "Fellows complement our faculty experts, and their professional networks will build ties between the College and people and organizations around the world, providing new perspectives and opportunities to learn."
The courses that Dr. Blanco, Bain and Corbetta develop in collaboration with SFC's full-time faculty will be among those that fulfill the requirements of a new human rights minor program SFC will establish. Reza Fakhari, Ph.D., Vice President of Internationalization and Strategic Partnerships and Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), along with faculty from the Departments of Economics, History and Political Science; Sociology and Criminal Justice; Accounting and Business Law; Management and Information Technology; and Interdisciplinary Studies, as well as the ICS program, is currently developing the program in collaboration with AIUSA. Bain and Corbetta will also work closely with the student chapter of AIUSA at SFC during their Fellowship tenures.
SFC Fellows must be nominated by current faculty or staff and then pass a review process before being formally invited into the program. Fellows' terms last one or two semesters, and each can continue working outside full-time jobs while fulfilling their Fellowship duties. To qualify, Fellows must demonstrate subject matter expertise, professional stature in their field and a commitment to Franciscan values of diversity and inherent human rights.