Dr. Elizabeth McPherson Receives AAUW American Fellowship Grant Award

Funds will be used to complete her latest book "Voices from the Bennington School of the Dance (1934-'42)"

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has just awarded a 2011-’12  American Fellowship to Elizabeth McPherson, assistant professor of dance.

Fellowships are awarded to highly qualified women scholars completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research or finishing research for publication. McPherson, who has been on the faculty at Montclair State University since 2008, will be using the award to complete her book Voices from the Bennington School of the Dance (1934-42), to be published by Cambria Press.

A total of 88 American Fellowships was awarded this year. McPherson said receiving the award is an honor.

“I am thrilled to be a recipient of this award,” McPherson said. “I feel both honored and grateful. The support of AAUW is enabling me to bring my book to completion this summer. “

The Bennington School of the Dance brought together the most celebrated choreographers of the 1930s, including Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, to teach and choreograph in an idyllic setting free from the heat and stress of New York City. Modern dance as an art form grew and flourished at the summer retreat. McPherson’s book contains edited writings of two directors of the school along with numerous interviews to tell the story through the participants’ voices.

McPherson said her book is scheduled to be published next spring. It will be officially launched April 20 at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, which is having a celebration of the Bennington School of the Dance. Dance students from Montclair State will also perform excerpts of works by Bennington artists – including José Limón’s There is a Time, Charles Weidman’s Opus 51 and Hortense Lieberthal Zera’s Never Sign a Letter Mrs. The event, which begins at noon, is free.

McPherson is a graduate of the Juilliard School, The City College of New York and New York University. Her primary research interest is teaching and learning in dance education with a focus on history. Her first book, The Contributions of Martha Hill to American Dance and Dance Education (1900-1995), was published by The Edwin Mellen Press in 2008.

The oldest and largest of AAUW’s fellowship and grant programs, the American Fellowships program began in 1888, a time when women were discouraged from pursuing an education. 

“The funding we provide to the AAUW American Fellows affords them the ability to become leading thinkers in their fields and sets them apart in an important way because they are receiving support from one of the nation’s most respected women’s organizations,” said Gloria Blackwell, AAUW’s director of fellowships, grants and international programs. “I congratulate the 2011-’12 class of AAUW America Fellows who now belong to this dynamic community of exceptional women who are uncovering new ground, providing important perspective and helping humanity.”

Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. One of the largest sources of funding for graduate education for women, AAUW has provided more than $90 million to more than 11,000 fellows and grantees since awarding its first fellowship to Vassar graduate Ida Street, a pioneer in the field of early American Indian history.

Read the press release about this year’s awards. To see a directory of fellowship and grant recipients, visit www.aauw.org/education/fga/fellows_directory/index.cfm.