Sam Vong Named Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow

Posted on April 17th, 2013 by

Sam Vong

Sam Vong

The Provost’s Office at Gustavus Adolphus College has announced that Sam C. Vong will join the College’s faculty beginning in the fall of 2013 as the College’s first Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow. Vong, who will earn his Ph.D. in history from Yale University this summer, will be based in the Gustavus History Department in Beck Academic Hall.

“One of the shared goals of Commission Gustavus 150 and the Academic Strategic Plan was to increase diversity of our faculty on campus,” Associate Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities Paula O’Loughlin said. “We have made this a focus of the Provost’s Office this year and the Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellowship is part of this effort.”

The Fellowship is named after Bruce Gray ’61, who spent 44 years as an administrator at the College in both the admission and advancement offices. Gray is best known for his efforts to recruit more students of color to Gustavus and recently wrote and published the book Black and Bold, a personal memoir about the history of African American students at the College.

Provost and Dean of the College Mark Braun said he was impressed by a grant-funded minority fellowship program Gustavus offered in the mid-1990s, and decided to fund a similar program internally, in an effort to encourage talented faculty from underrepresented groups to consider a career at liberal arts institutions. The Provost’s Office sought membership in the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, currently housed at Gettysburg College, as an avenue to attract the best candidates for the fellowship.

“I was inspired to name the award for Bruce Gray after reading Black and Bold this winter,” Braun said. “I was reminded that Bruce Gray, along with Owen Sammelson, Mark Anderson, Edgar Carlson and others set a high standard for us in terms of Gustavus’s obligation to enhance opportunity for students and teacher-scholars from underrepresented groups.”

Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellows will be asked to teach one course per semester, spend a significant amount of time on research and writing, and informally advise students.

Vong earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. He also holds a master’s degree in history from California State University, Los Angeles. His dissertation “Compassion Politics: Indochinese Refugees and the Transnational Politics of Care, 1975-1994,” investigates the role of compassion in society and the ways that individuals seek to fulfill ethical obligations to others.

His teaching examines issues of race, ethnicity, and migration in twentieth-century American history, with a focus on Asians in the United States. In the fall of 2013, he will teach a new course titled, “Migration and Race in the United States, 1840s to the Present.”  Vong’s teaching and research are informed by his past involvement in community organizing, such as his work with the Los Angeles chapter of Critical Resistance to abolish prisons in California. Currently, he is an active member of Texas United for Families, a Texas-based coalition of grassroots organizations working to end the use of for-profit private immigration detention centers.

“I am honored to be named a Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow at Gustavus,” Vong said. “I look forward to contributing to the vibrant intellectual environment at Gustavus and to supporting its diversity mission. I am especially excited about working with faculty, staff, and, most all, students.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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