Professor Martha "Marti" Greene Eads is the first Lilly Graduate Fellows Program mentor to come from a Mennonite institution. (Photo by Rachel Holderman)

Eads named as mentor in Lilly Graduate Fellows Program

Professor Martha Greene Eads has been appointed as a mentor in the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. Eads, who teaches English at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), is the first faculty member from a Mennonite institution to be appointed as a mentor. 

The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program supports academically talented graduate students who are exploring vocations in church-related higher education. It’s one of several initiatives run by the Lilly Fellows Program, which was founded in 1991 at Christ College, the interdisciplinary honors college of Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Eads’ mentoring partner in this three-year project is Professor Charles Strauss, who teaches history at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Frederick, Maryland. Eads and Strauss will each have a chance to host the Lilly mentees in conferences on their respective campuses, in addition to collaborating with the graduate students on research, teaching, and professional development.

Their cohort of fellows come from various humanities and arts programs at Stony Brook University, Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Georgetown University, and the University of Michigan.

“I can hardly wait to bring these young scholars to see what a wonderful place EMU is to teach,” Eads said. “So many people pass through grad school, thinking that they need to snag jobs at major research universities. One of the program’s goals is to help them envision possibilities for flourishing on smaller, church-related campuses.”

Program mentors are appointed in teams of one male and one female scholar from different Christian traditions (Strauss is Roman Catholic).

“He’s an impressive historian, a person of deep Catholic faith, and a lively conversationalist,” Eads said. “I could hardly believe my good fortune when Joe Creech in the LFP office invited me to mentor, but when he went on to say that he was asking Charles to be my teammate, I knew the experience would be too much fun to pass up.”

In addition to graduate student fellowships, the Lilly Fellows Program also offers postdoctoral teaching fellowships at Valparaiso University, maintains a national network of church-related colleges and universities, and operates the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program for mid-career faculty leaders from its network of schools.

Eads taught at Valparaiso University as a Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow in the arts and humanities from 2001-2003. She’s also been awarded several faculty mini-grants from the Lilly Foundation over the years. 

Two EMU alumni were in previous cohorts of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program: Michael Spory ’11, now an architect, and Donovan Tann ’08, who recently joined the language and literature department at the University of Dubuque after teaching literature, writing and film at Hesston College.

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