UNC Asheville Faculty Members Keya Maitra and Katherine Zubko Receive Distinguished Faculty Appointments in the Humanities

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Katherine Zubko (left) and Keya Maitra

Professor Keya Maitra, chair of UNC Asheville’s Department of Philosophy, and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Katherine Zubko have both received appointments to prestigious distinguished professorships in the humanities beginning in the fall 2018 semester.




Keya Maitra

Maitra, because of her exemplary teaching across the liberal arts curriculum, was given a three-year appointment as the Thomas Howerton Distinguished Professor of Humanities at UNC Asheville, a post held for the past three years by Professor of Philosophy Brian Butler. The Howerton is an endowed professorship made possible by the C.D. Spangler Foundation and the generous gift of Helen Howerton Lineberry and her husband, Al Lineberry, in memory of her father Thomas Howerton.

Keya MaitraMaitra hopes to use the Howerton Distinguished Professorship to foster “innovative and creative thinking for envisioning the humanities’ role in providing a platform for fertile conversation through which our understanding of our human condition, its potentials and challenges, can be deepened and enhanced."

As the Howerton Professor, Maitra will be developing her fourth book project, which proposes an epistemology of mindfulness that highlights how dimensions of knowing can be understood better when informed by Buddhist insights on mindfulness. Accompanying her own scholarship, she will offer a three-year lecture series, bringing scholars, many of them international, to UNC Asheville.

Maitra is the author of two books, Philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Introduction (2018), and On Putnam (2003), and she is the co-editor of a forthcoming volume, The Feminist Philosophy of Mind. Her epistemology of mindfulness book project is informed by her research in India during a semester at the University of Delhi after being awarded Fulbright-Nehru research grant.

She is an award winning teacher and scholar, having won UNC Asheville’s Teaching Award in Humanities and the Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for Scholarship. Maitra holds two doctoral degrees, both in philosophy, from the University of Connecticut and the University of Hyderabad, India.

Katherine Zubko

Katherine ZubkoZubko, who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to UNC Asheville’s Humanities Program, has been appointed the NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, a post held for the past three years by Professor of History Dan Pierce. The NEH professorship is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Zubko has been teaching the university’s core humanities courses since 2009, and served as the coordinator for two years. She also served as interim director of the Humanities Program last year, and has recently been involved in creating new Humanities Readers as part of a Mellon Foundation Grant-funded initiative. An anthropologist and dance scholar based in UNC Asheville’s Religious Studies Department, she brings an interdisciplinary lens to her scholarship and teaching. She is the author of Dancing Bodies of Devotion: Fluid Gestures in Bharata Natyam (2014), a volume that examines religious pluralism within a traditionally Hindu storytelling dance form. Zubko has garnered two awards for teaching and one award in scholarly achievement by her peers at UNC Asheville.

Zubko's NEH project seeks to build community and organizational support for faculty and students in the Humanities Program. This will involve the creation of two long-term faculty working groups -- one focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and a second focused on decolonizing and further internationalizing the university’s humanities courses.

“I am looking forward to helping make the intellectual pedagogical labor of our faculty more visible, and providing resources to deepen our ongoing commitment at UNC Asheville to accessibility, equity and diverse perspectives within our curricula and classroom pedagogies.”

For more information about UNC Asheville’s endowed professorships, visit the Academic Affairs website.