Ending on a high note: retiring professor lands Fulbright


University of Indianapolis English Professor Mary McGann is retiring this spring after 22 years at UIndy and four decades in higher education. But she’s not done teaching.

The Fulbright Scholar Program’s presidentially appointed board has selected McGann for a prestigious Senior Lecturer award that will send her to Poland’s University of Warsaw for the 2012–13 academic year. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program was established to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of more than 150 participating countries. Past award recipients have included heads of state, CEOs, ambassadors, and artists, as well as 43 Nobel Prize winners.

McGann will be teaching at Warsaw’s American Studies Center, where she served as associate director in the early 1980s. She and her husband arrived there just as the Soviet-backed government was cracking down on pro-democracy groups and instituting a two-year period of martial law. Store shelves were empty, and most Americans left the country, but McGann made many friends with whom she has stayed in touch.

“It made an indelible mark on us,” she says, noting that Poland now has one of the most stable economies in Europe. “This is kind of a homecoming for me, although it’s a very different country from the one I left.”

Her Fulbright award is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and includes a stipend and allowances for travel, housing, books, and other educational materials. McGann’s work there will include supervising master’s theses, teaching a basic survey of American literature, and teaching the literature of the Native American experience—an idea she proposed.

McGann joined the UIndy faculty in 1990 after teaching at Rhode Island College and Indiana, Cincinnati, and Ohio State universities. She has taught several times at the University of Indianapolis Athens Campus in Greece and in the University’s joint degree program at Ningbo Institute of Technology in China. She leaves the Indianapolis campus, she says, with fond memories.

“Of all the schools I’ve taught at, this is the one where I’ve really gotten to know my students,” she says.