College promotes four faculty members to full-professor status

By Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief

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The college has promoted four faculty members to full professor for 2023.

The recipients include Sebastian Huydts, professor and chair of the Music Department; Ilya Levinson, professor in the Music Department; Luis Nasser, professor in the Science and Mathematics Department and Jackie Spinner, professor in the Communication Department.

Sebastian Huydts

In his own words: “Having been awarded the rank of Professor of Music is a tremendous honor that I see as a significant recognition of my commitment to lifelong creative scholarship, mentoring young talent by example, and continuous collaboration with wonderful colleagues,” Huydts said to the Chronicle via email. “It is a tremendous privilege that will inspire me to continue to find ways to improve my methodology, to open myself up to new forms of collaboration, to stay current, to innovate, and thus better serve our students by offering their young, open, and ambitious minds the type of guidance that will better allow them to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals.

In the background: Huydts was selected to be the next chair of the Music Department in October 2022 after serving as acting chair. Huydts said one of his goals was to increase collaboration between other departments at the college that could help shape the arts and acoustics.

Digging deeper: Huydts holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy conservation from the Amsterdam University of the Arts and a master’s degree in music from the University of Chicago. His creative practices include music cognition, history of acoustic music, history of electro-acoustic music and language. While studying at the University of Chicago, he received the Paul and Olga Menn prize for original compositions for his Concerto For Piano And Double String Orchestra.

Ilya Levinson

In his own words: “It feels truly elating as this promotion is a validation of one’s efforts in teaching, creative endeavors, and service over a significant period of [my] life,” Levinson said to the Chronicle in an email. “I want to add that this promotion wouldn’t happen without the support of one’s family at home and the scholarly and creative community at work.”

In the background: Levinson has been working at the college since 2009 as an associate professor in the Music Department. He holds a diploma in Music Theory from Moscow Municipal Music College, a master’s degree from the Conservatory of Music and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Digging deeper: Levinson, who immigrated to the United States in 1988 from Russia, has had his music performed by the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Sarajevo Philharmonic, CUBE Ensemble, the New Music Ensembles of the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, among others. He won the Midwest Composers Competition in 1994 and was the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships in Music Composition in 1997 and 2003.

Luis Nasser

In his own words: “It feels great; my whole career has always been split between being a physicist and a professional bassist/composer. Neither took center stage, which meant the road was always more difficult,” Nasser told the Chronicle. “I am the same person today [as] I was a week ago. My work, my duties with my students and what I do haven’t changed one bit, but it is a very big deal to get this level of validation from peers. It’s not something I took for granted: I worked very hard, and I am very grateful for the recognition. But it bears repeating: the work is always “just beginning,” both as a composer and a physicist. I would have it no other way.”

In the background: Nasser holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a master’s degree in seminar writing from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in physics from the University of Maryland.

Digging deeper: Nasser, who joined Columbia in 2014, specializes in Mathematical Physics, Technical writing, bass performance and Music Theory and Composition. He is currently among the leaders working to develop the visualization lab at Columbia. 

Jackie Spinner

In her own words: “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized in this way, but there is also a lot of work yet to be done to confront the systemic biases and barriers that my colleagues of color face to get to this point with me,” Spinner said to the Chronicle. “I’m particularly proud to have achieved this step as a mother of three young children, and I am most definitely glad they can come to campus again.” She said she was honored to be recognized for her teaching and scholarship around diversity and inclusiveness, which she credited her children for inspiring.

In the background: Spinner has been a professor at the college since 2011 and oversees the photojournalism programs. She teaches global reporting, digital storytelling and opinion writing, a DEI course. Spinner, who is currently serving as the Chronicle’s faculty advisor, was a staff writer for The Washington Post. She is currently a contributing writer for the Post and the editor for Gateway Journalism Review. 

Digging deeper: Spinner holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. Spinner has honorary doctorate degrees from SIU and Lakeland University.

What the provost is saying: “The rank of professor is a significant achievement, granted to those full-time faculty who have met the ongoing requirements for associate professor and have additionally distinguished themselves through academic careers of leadership and exceptional accomplishment in teaching and teaching-related activities; scholarly and creative endeavor; and service,” Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David said. “I’d like to extend my gratitude to the members of the college committee, the school committees, school deans, chairs, and faculty holding the rank of professor for their diligence and thoughtfulness in evaluating the applications.”