International award puts USF in ‘good company’

Though USF lost more than a dozen professors since spring, one of its professors has earned an award that some think helps plug the Florida education system’s “brain drain.”

English professor Pat Rogers — who has taught at USF for 22 years and got his doctorate from Cambridge University — was recently elected as a “corresponding fellow” by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The award is given to up to 10 people yearly who reside outside of the United Kingdom. Only 307 people worldwide hold the distinction, according to the academy’s Web site.

The academy recognizes the high achievements of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, both in and out of Great Britain. Rogers is a specialist in 18th- century British literature.

Rogers, who teaches classes on literature from the 17th to the 20th centuries, was nominated by an unknown member of the academy for his work on the 44 books he has helped publish and the research he has done in literature, politics, economics, medicine and science from the previous four centuries.

Despite the number of times he’s been published, Rogers said it’s about the quality of work, not quantity.

“It’s how good, not how many,” he said. “I keep trying to get better.”

Debbie McLeod, a student of Rogers, said Rogers’ vast knowledge and extensive publications qualified him for the award.

“Rogers’ status as an internationally-known scholar enhances USF’s reputation. Students from around the world should be honored to have the chance to study with such a renowned scholar,” she said.

Hunt Hawkins, chair of the English department, said this award proves professors are staying in Florida for jobs, rather than seeking employment elsewhere. Rogers’ achievement also helps the University, he said.

“I hope Rogers’ award attracts students and other professors interested in Rogers’ field to USF,” Hawkins said.

Other corresponding fellows are professors at schools such as Yale and Princeton, putting USF in good company, Hawkins added.

Rogers, who also taught at universities in Cambridge, London, Wales and Bristol, said the award would be more helpful to his career if he were younger and living in Britain. He added that the award would be more substantial if he were teaching at an Ivy League school, but regardless, the award helps USF.

“It will help get the University more visibility and help attempts to raise its profile,” he said.

Students of Rogers said one of his best qualities as a professor is the time he invests in their education.

“Despite the wide range of his reading and understanding, he is genuinely interested in the perspectives of his students,” said Benjamin Wright, a doctoral student studying English literature.

McLeod said the time Rogers takes to meet individually with his students is crucial.

“This attention is especially helpful since graduate students are expected to publish,” said McLeod, who is studying English literature.

Hawkins became familiar with Rogers’ work when he was teaching at Florida State University. He said he could tell from Rogers’ books that he is refreshingly modest.

“Because of that, he is a model for everyone else to follow,” he said.

Wright agreed.

“His knowledge is paired with a humility which is truly admirable,” he said.

One work students may be familiar with is Pride and Prejudice, which Rogers’ edited for The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, published in 2006. Rogers is working on a political biography of Alexander Pope, a famous 18th-century poet.