Thien-Hong Ninh and Drew Thompson Named Bolin Fellows

Media contact:  Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email:[email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August 10, 2012 – Williams College has selected two Gaius Charles Bolin Fellows to teach at the college for two years as they complete advanced degrees. This year’s fellows are Thien-Hong Ninh and Drew Thompson ’05.

Ningh, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Southern California, is a Bolin Fellow in the Department in Religion.  She is currently writing her dissertation on “Transnational Religious Networks in Comparative Perspective: Vietnamese Catholics and Caodaists in the U.S., Cambodia, and Vietnam.”  Her teaching and research interests include ethnicity, race, and diaspora, with specific focus on ethnic Vietnamese in the U.S. and Cambodia; transnational religious communities and networks; and comparative religion, particularly Catholicism, Caodaism, Hoa Hao Buddhism, and Dao Mau.  She received her M.A. in sociology from the University of Southern California in 2009, with a master’s thesis on “Ethnic and Religious Trajectories in the Lives of Second-Generation Vietnamese American Caodaists in Southern California.” She received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles with triple majors in history, Southeast Asian studies, and Asian American studies.

Thompson, a Bolin Fellow in Art and History, is a Ph.D. candidate in African history at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  His dissertation is titled “Aim, Focus, Shoot: Photographic narratives of Imagination and Independence in Mozambique, 1960-1992.”  His fields of interest include Lusophone African history (Mozambique); Sub-Saharan Africa liberation struggles; the Cold War in Africa; photography and war; museum and heritage studies; post-colonial archives; and historical methodologies.  He received his B.A. from Williams in 2005 with double majors in history and art history and a concentration in international studies.  At Williams, he wrote a history thesis titled “Selling Automobiles and Buying Civil Rights: The Black Freedom Movement and the Heyday of the American Automobile Industry.”

The Bolin Fellowships were established in 1985, marking the centennial of the college’s admission of the first black graduate, Gaius Charles Bolin. The fellowships are designed to promote diversity on college faculties by encouraging students from underrepresented groups such as ethnic minorities, first-generation college graduates, women in predominantly male fields, and disabled scholars to complete graduate degrees and pursue college teaching careers. The fellowships are two-year residencies at the college. Up to three scholars are appointed each year, and they teach one course during each of the two years spent at the college as they complete their dissertations and work on academic career development. The fellowship is open to Ph.D. candidates and post-M.F.A. artists.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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