Jennifer Ho named new IAH associate director

Jennifer Ho
Jennifer Ho

Listen to a podcast with Jennifer Ho.

Jennifer Ho, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the department of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will become the associate director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities, housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, serves as UNC’s faculty home for interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration. Its mission is to help the university recruit, refresh, develop and retain a world-class faculty of scholars and teachers.

“I’m very excited to be working with IAH Director Mark Katz and the rest of the IAH staff and am eager to help support the faculty in the college and across the university,” says Professor Ho.

“Jennifer is a fantastic scholar, an award-winning teacher, and a truly dedicated colleague — I’m just thrilled that she will be joining us,” says Katz. “She will serve as a faculty liaison, promoting interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration, and will help develop the kind of programming that makes the IAH, and Carolina, such an intellectually vibrant place. I also admire her deep commitment to social justice, and I can see this passion infusing our work and guiding our mission.”

In her 10 years as Carolina faculty, Professor Ho has focused her teaching and research on the construction of contemporary American identities. Her most recent book Racial Ambiguity in Contemporary Asian American Culture (2015) examines various modes of cultural production (oral history, new media, literature, film, sports journalism) created predominantly by and about Asian Americans in the late-20th/early 21st century.

An IAH Faculty Fellow in 2008, she is currently participating in the IAH Academic Leadership Program. She was also recognized with the Chapman Family Teaching Award (2012). Professor Ho plans to use her experience as a renowned leader, scholar and teacher in her new role at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities to further its mission in recruiting, developing and retaining Carolina’s world-class faculty. The IAH is part of the College of Arts and Sciences but also partners across the UNC community.

“I like to think of myself having two main hats,” she said. “One of those hats is to help the director, Mark Katz. I also see myself as an academic matchmaker. I can think about different people in different units and try to introduce people who would benefit from shared intellectual interests.”

“Jennifer Ho is among the most courageous academics I’ve ever known,” said Department of English and Comparative Literature Associate Chair Daniel Anderson on news of the appointment. “Of course, she thinks deeply and considers all the nuances of issues, but when it comes to both intellectual leadership and stepping up to make things happen, she is fearless and inspirational.”

Dr. Ho is also an admitted food aficionado. She wrote an essay for Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine about her Chinese-Jamaican identity, including a recipe for traditional rice and peas. “If I hadn’t gotten into a PhD program in English I would have applied to culinary academies.”

When she is not writing books, teaching and advising students and developing her leadership skills, Prof. Ho can be found on the fairways playing golf. She also recently enrolled in an immersive Spanish language course to help her upcoming research on Asian migration and culture in the global South.

She assumes the role of IAH Associate Director Jan. 1. She will continue to serve as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Jennifer Ho also appears on the IAH Podcast Series to discuss her UNC career and how mentorship has contributed to accomplishing her goals.