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Director of Office of Fellowships to Leave University

Search to replace Sara Anson Vaux will begin soon

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Sara Anson Vaux, who has directed Northwestern University’s Office of Fellowships from its inception in April 1998, will leave the University, effective Aug. 31, 2016. A search for her successor will begin soon.

Under Vaux’s leadership, the Office of Fellowships has had great success. Over the last academic year, more than 300 Northwestern students or alumni won fellowships. For the 10th consecutive year, Northwestern has been ranked among the top eight research institutions for Fulbright U.S. student award winners. And prized scholarships for study at British universities and elsewhere around the world, as well as National Science Foundation fellowships, have increased markedly.

“Sara has always championed the fellowships experience as one of the hallmarks of a Northwestern education,” said Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education at Northwestern. “The office is very much a part of the intellectual mission of the University, helping to tie together the curricular and co-curricular student experience.”

Vaux partners with faculty and staff across the University to get out word about fellowships, such as the Fulbright and prestigious British scholarships, and, through the Office of Fellowships, helps students prepare for stiff competitions. Students engage in a number of forums with others, including in wide-ranging debates of national and international import, and writing skills are emphasized. The office encourages independent thought at the highest levels in students who pursue the prestigious scholarships, which ultimately can lead to careers that span the globe.

The Office of Fellowships collaborates with academic and co-curricular units, including school departments, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Study Abroad office, the Division of Student Affairs and The Graduate School, and University centers such as the Program of African Studies and the Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

With 26 Fulbright awards this year, Northwestern once again sent its graduates all over the globe. During the 2014-15 academic year, the National Science Foundation granted 52 awards to Northwestern graduate and undergraduate students, among dozens of other international and STEM fellowships.

In recent days, Jessica Bickel-Barlow, a Northwestern alumna with a lifelong passion for Shakespeare and collaborative theater, was selected as a Marshall Scholar and will pursue consecutive master’s degrees in literature and drama in England and Scotland.

On Saturday, Claire Dillon, an emerging art historian, educator and Northwestern graduate, learned that she was named to the 12-member class of the George J. Mitchell Scholars. She will study contemporary and medieval art history, human rights and island studies in Ireland.

Vaux has encouraged generations of undergraduate and graduate students to pursue national and international merit-based awards for study and research, domestically and around the world.

“Fellowships are an integral part of the educational experience,” Associate Provost Braeutigam said. “The influence of Sara’s vision and her commitment to advancing lifelong learning will continue to inspire members of the Northwestern community and beyond.”

More about Sara Anson Vaux

Vaux has served the University in a number of capacities through her longtime role on the selection committee for undergraduate language grants and her participation in Northwestern’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter as a selector and an officer. 

She is a lecturer in the department of religious studies, where she lectures on religion, ethics and film. She also is a faculty fellow at Northwestern’s Willard Residential College and Jones Fine and Performing Arts Residential College.

Her recent scholarship includes a chapter she contributed to “Nation and World, Church and God: The Legacy of Garry Wills” (2014), and she is the author of the book “Clint Eastwood: A Biography” (2014). Her American film criticism also includes “The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood” (2011) and “Finding Meaning in the Movies” (1999). She lectures widely on religion and film, most recently in Germany, on “Protestantism on Screen: The Western.” Her scholarly interests include the cinemas of Iran, France, Germany, Poland and Russia.

Before joining Northwestern, Vaux taught religion, literature and film at The University of Chicago, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and North Park Theological Seminary. 

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