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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Faculty News 

News from the College of Arts & Sciences

August 2013

Dr. Randy Brooks, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

 

Overview of the College of Arts & Sciences

The college consists of three divisions—Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences—with a total of twelve departments, including one PACE-only department. Starting the Fall of 2013, there are about 780 students majoring in A&S. This is a total increase of 160 students since 2010—a time period in which the university has experienced a decline in enrollment. A&S students include 430 majors in the Social Sciences, 220 majors in the Natural Sciences and 130 majors in the Humanities.

For 2013-2014 there are 57 full-time faculty members and about 44 part-time faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences. This is an increase of 1 full-time faculty line since 2010. A&S faculty teach over 90% of the University Studies program courses and teach courses for PACE and both the MBA and Nursing graduate programs. Since 2010 the average number of student credit hours taught by each FTE (full-time faculty equivalent) has risen from 159 credits hours per FTE in 2010 to 172 credits hours per FTE in 2013.

The College of Arts and Sciences offers seven distinctive programs of excellence that feature the integration of theory and practice through performance learning. I am pleased to report recent accomplishments and professional performances of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty and students.

 

(1) NATURAL SCIENCES RESEARCH

Natural Science students and faculty engage in research—in the research laboratory, inextensive field studies, and through professional internships. Faculty and students share their new knowledge with the science community through poster exhibits, conference presentations, co-authored publications, and community outreach events.

Gift of $1.6 million to support natural science programs. Millikin has received a gift of more than $1.6 million in support of MU's natural science programs from a trust established in 1999 by the late John A. Leighty’31. Pending approval by the MU board of trustees, the gift will provide ongoing financial support for essential research, instructional scientific instrumentation, a new endowed professorship in the natural sciences and mathematics division, and performance learning enhancement needs within the division’s departments. During a 33-year career at Eli Lilly and Company, Dr. Leighty served on the team that first produced penicillin in the 1940s, and he was also involved in development and production of the antibiotics erythromycin and streptomycin and the analgesic Darvon. The Leighty name is permanently honored on campus through the Leighty-Tabor Science Center, an endowed scientific research fellowship and an endowedscience scholarship program.

Millikin University Institute for Science Entrepreneurship – MUISE started in the Spring 2013 semester with a Performance Learning Enhancement Grant. In its first semester, the institute attracted two donations to help support science entrepreneurship. The Institute under the leadership of Dr. David Horn, Dr. George Bennett, and Dr. Casey Watson received $2,000 in funding from the Coleman Foundation and $5,000 from an anonymous donor to develop a speaker's series during the 2013-2014 school year. The speaker’s series will examine the relationship between economic prosperity and social well-being and how entrepreneurship can be a driver of this relationship. One  of the next goals of the MUISE is to recruit and establish an external committee of successful alumni and interested science business leaders.

Chemistry Laboratory Teaching Media – Chemistry faculty, Dr. Paris Barnes, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Katherine Fritts, Instructor of Chemistry, collaborated with eight first-year students to create seven pre-laboratory videos for use in introductory chemistry labs. The goal of the videos was to help students prepare for the laboratory experiences prior to coming to the lab for hands-on work. This project was supported by a Performance Learning Enhancement Grant.

Leighty Scholars Research – Over the summer of 2013, three sophomore natural science Leighty Scholar students—Remmi Baker, Moli Copple, and Kendra Peterson—partnered with faculty Dr. Eric Martell, Greg Marcello and Dr. Judy Parrish on research.

Dr. Paris Barnes, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has completed a number of professional  activities since the last report. Throughout the summer, Dr.Barnes collaborated with Dr. Anne Rammelsberg and Millikin senior Lindsey Baxter on a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship-supported project. Lindsey's project focuses on the encapsulation of the natural excretion of blister beetles in biological transport containers coated with gold nanoparticles. This collaborative team will continue its work with Dr. Jennifer Schroeder to determine if these biofunctional nanocomposites can be used to kill breast cancer cells.

Dr. Barnes is also the Advisory Chair for the Millikin (Eta Epsilon) chapter of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO). In June, Dr. Barnes co-presented a two day workshop on recruitment and retention to improve membership within APO chapters. In July, he attended the National Volunteer Conference to learn more about chapter advising, risk management within chapters, and resources for improved chapter performance. Additionally, four members of Millikin's APO chapter received John Mack scholarships (a national award; $500-1000/recipient) this summer. The Millikin chapter received more Mack scholarships than any other chapter nationwide (61 total recipients). Finally, the Millikin chapter was eligible and applied for the Pledge Program of Excellence award and Diamond Chapter of Excellence award for the 2012-2013 academic year.  Both honors are awarded to chapters with outstanding chapter operations.

Dr. Barnes has received four additional awards. He received the Chapter Distinguished Service Key for continued service to the Millikin APO chapter, Advisor of the Year from the Millikin APO chapter, Millikin's Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, and the Alpha Lambda Delta Outstanding Teacher Award. He was the faculty speaker at the Fall Opening Convocation on August 26, 2013.

Dr. Travis Wilcoxen, Assistant Professor of Biology, was elected as chair of the Illinois State Academy of Science Zoology Division at the 2013 annual meeting. One Millikin student, presenting research co-authored by Dr. Wilcoxen and Dr. David Horn was awarded Best Student Poster at the Illinois State Academy of Science Meeting and another Millikin student presenting research co-authored by Dr. Wilcoxen was awarded Best Student Talk at that meeting. One of Dr. Wilcoxen’s students also received the Best Student Poster in Zoology award at the regional Tri-Beta Biology National Honor Society convention, with second and third place posters also going to Millikin students with Dr. Horn and Dr. Wilcoxen as research advisors. In June, Dr. Wilcoxen taught a week-long class about birds to grade school students at the Sun Foundation in Washburn, IL. Dr. Wilcoxenalso provided three bird banding demonstrations at the Rhodes-France Scout Reservation to help Boy Scouts earn their ornithology merit badges.

Dr. David Horn, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Wilcoxen co-chaired a symposium, “The Science of Wild Bird Feeding” at the American Ornithologists’ Union Annual Meeting in Chicago, each presenting a talk. In addition, Millikin alum, Kelly Commons, presented a talk in the symposium co-authored by Dr. Horn and Dr. Wilcoxen. Dr. Horn also gave a presentation on "Attracting Backyard Birds" to the West End Neighborhood Association. Dr. Horn received his second $5,000 Coleman Faculty Entrepreneurship Fellowship (his first one wasreceived in 2009). Coleman Fellows promote entrepreneurship at MillikinUniversity and he will use the fellowship to develop the Institute for Science Entrepreneurship (the institute was originally funded by a Millikin University Performance Learning Enhancement Grant). Drs. Horn and Wilcoxen, along with Professor Marcello will be receiving $12,094 in funding from Midwest Environmental Consulting Services to conduct a mortality study of birds and bats at a wind turbine at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL that began in early August. A paper written by Dr. Horn and alumnus Stacey Johansen was published in Wildlife Society Bulletin. The paper is titled "A comparisonof bird feeding practices in the United States and Canada."

Dr. Anne Rammelsberg, Associate Professor of Chemistry, volunteered at the AmericanChemical Society tent at the Illinois State Fair on August 15th. Dr. Rammelsberg’s task was helping families understand and complete hands-onscience experiments.

  

(2) APPLIED MATH & PHYSICS

Faculty and students in these programs develop advanced mathematical modeling abilities in a variety of applied math fields including actuarial science, physics or math education. The math department hosts an undergraduate math conference each year, and the physics program hosts numerous science and astronomy outreach programs to schools and the community.

Dr. James Rauff, Professor of Mathematics, published two papers and two book reviews. His paper "The Chicken Went into the Bush and Never Came Back: A Note on Infinity" was published in The Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics  and his paper "Rock Art Tallies: Mathematics on Stone in Western North America" was published in The Journal for Humanistic Mathematics. Dr. Rauff's review of the book Mathematics in Victorian England edited by Raymond Flood, Adrian Rice, and Robin Wilson, was published in Mathematics and Computer Education and his review of Nuts and Bolts of Proofs: An Introduction to Mathematical Proofs by Antonella Cupillari was published in The Mathematics Teacher.

With support from a sabbatical leave in the Spring 2013 semester, Dr. Rauff also completed a textbook on infinity. The book titled, “Everywhere and Forever: A Voyage to the Infinite” is currently under review for publication at Oxford University Press. Here’s ashort excerpt from the prologue:

Everywhere and Forever is a book about infinity and how humans have come to understand the infinite. Although this book contains quite a bit of mathematics, it is more than a mathematics text. I draw inspiration from a variety of cultures, but this is not an anthropology text. … For over a decade, I have tried to show my students the ways of the infinite and have encouraged and cajoled them to understanding. This textbook on infinity is also an adventure story and meditation. My aim is to take you, the reader, in a small, fragile boat onto the great grey ocean of the infinite. You are encouraged to ride the waves, blend with the sky, and flow with the currents wherever they may take you.”

Dr. Joe Stickles, Professor of Mathematics, is a Co-Primary Investigator for a National Science Foundation grant on re-sequencing calculus instruction in higher education. This research could provide significant changes and pedagogical improvements on a national or international scale.

 

(3) BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE RESEARCH & SOCIAL ACTION

Students and faculty in this program choose an emphasis on research or social action. The Psychology major prepares students in experimental research methods and invites students to join ongoing research teams, such as the Social Perception Research Project. The Human Services and Sociology majors emphasize service learning and social action, preparing students to become professionals in organizations dedicated to helping people and communities.

New interdepartmental minor. Last spring the Council on Curriculum approved a new interdepartmental minor in criminal justice. Fifteen students have already added the minor to their plan of study. Faculty from political science and sociology, Dr. Bobbi Gentry, Assistant Professor of Political Sciences, and Dr. Kenneth Laundra, Assistant Professor of Sociology, received funding for a research partnership with the Macon County State Attorney’s office to study effectiveness of the Adult Redeploy program. Students and interns in the new minor will participate in this research.

Linda L. Collinsworth, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, presented expert testimony to the House of Commons of Canada Standing Committee on the Status of Women on May 23, 2013. Dr. Collinsworth has conducted research on the impact of sexual harassment on women in organizations, and she presented the results of her research as well as the results of other studies on this topic. The Committee was conducting a study of sexual harassment in workplaces in the Canadian federal jurisdiction with the goal of understanding the problem and proposing legislation and policy to address it.

Dr. Collinsworth also recently published a new article. The citation for the article is as follows: Fitzgerald, L.F., Collinsworth, L.L., &Lawson, A.K. (2013). Sexual harassment, PTSD, and Criterion A: If it walks like a duck . . . . Psychological Injury andLaw, 6(2), 81-91.

Mary Garrison,LCSW, ACSW, Associate Professor of Social Work, has had a busy summer advocating for homeless individuals within the Decatur community. A local program (Oasis Day Center) that Professor Garrison and her students have worked extensively with in the past is facing closure and Professor Garrison was asked by the program to assist with keeping it open. Professor Garrison created documents of complied data from past surveys with regard to homelessness in order to provide a context of the problem faced in Decatur, Il. Professor Garrison was also invited to participate in community presentations (one for local social service providers to address the impact of the potential program closure and one as a member of a panel discussion for the entire ministerial community in Decatur). Professor Garrison presented five times on this topic in the months of May and June.

In Spring 2013, Shabana Mir, Assistant Professor of Global Studies, published a chapter, “Higher Education in the Middle East,” in a textbook, Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local,R.F. Arnove and C. A. Torres, eds. Pp. 369-379. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. (2013).

Dr. Mir was invited to present her scholarly work at two university forums this year.  In March, 2013, Shabana presented her research at the University of Illinois Lecture Series, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. In April 2013, Dr. Mir presented at Loyola University, Chicago, under the auspices of the Islamic World Studies Lecture Series on the invitation of the Religious Studies expert, Prof. Marcia Hermansen.

 

(4) COMMUNICATION

Faculty and students in communication conduct research and practice professional skills in public relations, organizational communication or media production. Communication students practice their professional communication through required internships and campus opportunities such as working for the award-winning Millikin University radio station, WJMU.

With support from a Performance Learning Enhancement Grant, two faculty, Dr. Nancy Curtin, Associate Professor of Communication, and Dr. Susan Kruml, Associate Professor of Management, developed client-based learning projects with businesses in the Decatur community. This collaboration is further enhanced by the fact that they co-taught cross-listed courses, CO360 Training and Development with MG322 Performance Management.

Brandon Hensley, Instructor of Communication, received a Best Paper Award and Presentation Excellence Award at the 2013 International Conference on Learning and Administration in Higher Education, held in May at the Holiday Inn Vanderbiltin Nashville, Tennessee.

 

(5) WRITING & PUBLISHING  

Students and faculty in the writing and publishing program can concentrate on creative writing, professional writing, literature, print journalism or English education. In addition to courses on the art of publishing and web publishing, students in this program join student-run publishing companies including the student newspaper, the Decaturian, the book publishing company, Bronze ManBooks, the literary magazine, Collage, or the poetry broadside publishing company, Blue Satellite Press.

The Media Arts Center was upgraded this summer with new iMacs and with correspondingprofessional publishing, video editing, and graphic design software. The Mac Lab supports courses and programs in the CFA and A&S including graphic design, web publishing, book publishing, video production, digital photography, and new media.

Dr. Stephen Frech, Associate Professorof English, had his poem “Enough, Not Enough” published in the literary journal Ninth Letter. George Mason University Special Collections Library bought 11 poetry broadsides printed by Dr. Frech’s Oneiros Press to initiate their poetry broadside collection and for a presentation at a professional conference.

Dr. Michael O’Conner, Associate Professor of English, self-published the second version of his textbook, the Digital American Literature Anthology. Included in this new versionis an entirely new third volume, covering authors from Mark Twain to Zitkala-Sa, a native American writer. Author biographies and short bibliographies have also been substantially revised and updated. This free open-source textbook and its accompanying hypertextual learning resources are offered to students as an alternative to expensive traditional print texts and meant to be read on tablet devices or laptops. Access to the many versions ofthis this book is located at: <http://digitalamlit.com>.

Dr. Scott Lambert, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, published a chapter for a book on press coverage of the Civil War accepted. The chapter is titled “A Divided Illinois: Abraham Lincoln and Coverage of the Emancipation Proclamation by his Hometown Press”. The chapter examines how two Springfield newspapers, one Democrat and one Republican, covered Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Lambert's EN 380 class had a story printed in the St. Louis Beacon last May. The story ran with the headline "Jeffrey Sterling maintains his innocence" and featured an interview with Sterling, one of the nine men currently being prosecuted by the United States government under the Espionage Act. Sterling is a 1989 graduate of Millikin.

Katie Henson, Visiting Lecturer of English, had three poems published in "Hobart" a Champaign-Urbana literary journal, in July. She is currently working on recording a short story for an educational initiative fronted by "Carve," a literary journal. The program is designed to bring contemporary fiction into high school, college and graduate classrooms through the creation of vocal recordings of stories accompanied by lesson plans and discussion questions.

Dr. Randy Brooks, Professor of English and Dean of Arts & Sciences, had three poems published in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years edited by Jim Kacian, Allan Burns and Philip Rowland. W.W. Norton & Company (New York, NY), 2013. He also had an essay, “Where My Haiku Begin?”published in Field Notes, The Haiku Foundation Forums, June 22, 2013.

  

(6) INTERNATIONAL CULTURES & HISTORY

Faculty and students interested in studying international cultures have many opportunities to study abroad through immersion or semester-long opportunities. Students and faculty in History conduct research including field studies or primary texts in their courses and through internships with historical organizations, such as museums.

Congressman Thomas Ewing Archive Research. Former congressman and Millikin alumni, Thomas Ewing, generously loaned his papers and career archives to Millikin University. History students are now organizing the collection as a hands-on exercise in archival work. Once the Ewing Papers have been properly catalogued for scholarly use, Dr. Dan Monroe, Associate Professor of History, has agreed to co-write Congressman Ewing’s memoir.

Millikin University's chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, has been named an"Honor Chapter" for its outstanding activities in 2012-2013. This is the third consecutive year that Millikin has received this honor. In addition, because it earned "Honor Chapter" status for a complete triennium (2010-13), Millikin was one of only nine chapters nationwide to be confirmed for the prestigious Octavio Paz Award. Dr. Elizabeth Amaya, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Millikin's chapter adviser and current national Sigma Delta Pi vice president of the Midwest, was instrumental in earning these prestigious distinctions. "Sigma Delta Pi is a very active student organization in the department of modern languages," said Amaya. "Our chapter holds three cultural activities every semester. These cultural activities are intended to raise awareness of the Hispanic cultures and highlight their contributions to world culture." Each May, the nearly 600 chapters of Sigma Delta Pi across the U.S. are asked to submit an annual report detailing their numerous activities and projects from the academic year. Based on these reports, the National Executive Committee chooses approximately 10-15 "Honor Chapters" annually. This recognition is based upon the caliber of chapter projects that reflect the Sigma Delta Pimission of honoring excellence in the study of the Spanish language, contributing to cultural understanding and upholding the goals of the society. "Every semester the Spanish major and minor students that belong to Millikin's chapter of this prestigious national organization organize numerous activities," said Dr. Eduardo Cabrera, Professor of Spanish and chair of the modern languages department at Millikin University. "The students promote the diversity of the many cultures of the Spanish speaking world, in Latin America, Spain as well as U.S. Latinos."

Dr. Eduardo Cabrera, Professor of Spanish, published an article “Vigencia y resignificación histórica en la ensayística de Mario Benedetti” in the journal Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, Año XXXIX, No.77, pp.159-180 (2013). Dr. Cabrera also published “Marginalidad y solidaridad en el teatro de María Teresa Zúñiga Norero” in the journal Revista Conjunto, No.167 (2013).

Dr. Cabrera participated as a leader of the grading of the AP Spanish Literature and Culture exams, organized by the Educational Testing Service and the College Board. Cincinnati, June 2013. And he was named Chief Reader for the College Board’s AP Examination in Spanish Literature and Culture, a prestigious national position.

 
 
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
 
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
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