UM Artist-in-Residence Creates Unique Opportunities for Students

Bruce Levingston

Bruce Levingston

In 2013, concert pianist Bruce Levingston, who was serving as the chancellor’s special adviser on the arts, was approached by University of Mississippi administrators to develop a program in which Ole Miss students would experience the art of classical music.

Levingston invited students to attend his performances around the country to get a behind-the-scenes look at how concerts are staged, to meet key players at each venue and to act as ambassadors for the university in each city.

Some students were even asked to participate in some of Levingston’s performances. Students Clarissa Brumley and Richard Culpepper both performed with Levingston in front of local schoolchildren in Lexington. The Ole Miss musicians played their instruments, trumpet and piano, respectively, and answered questions from the enthusiastic crowd.

Students also performed with Levingston at Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s event touting 2014 as the “The Year of the Creative Economy” at Power APAC Elementary in Jackson, attended a performance at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson and visited Levingston in New York, where he invited them to his concert at Carnegie Hall.

Students also got to join Levingston as he played piano for the Boston Ballet premiere of “Close to Chuck.” Katie Shuford and Kate Prendergast ventured backstage to meet dancers, choreographers and other members of the Boston Ballet creative team. Shuford and Prendergast also visited the Boston Ballet School to see how the school was run and meet with the physical therapist who treats the dancers.

In August 2014, Levingston assumed a new role as Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College artist-in-residence and plans to continue providing students with opportunities to experience the arts.

Kenneth Sufka is Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year

UM psychology educator received prestigious honor in Washington, D.C.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

Ken Sufka lectures to one of his classes.

OXFORD, Miss. – A respected University of Mississippi educator and researcher is this year’s Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching-Council for Advancement and Support of Education Mississippi Professor of the Year.

Kenneth J. “Ken” Sufka, professor of psychology and pharmacology, received the prestigious honor Thursday (Nov. 20) at the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards celebration in Washington, D.C. The program salutes the country’s most outstanding undergraduate instructors and is the only national effort to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“When I first read the letter, I was flat-out dumbfounded. I had to read it again,” Sufka said. “The CASE-Carnegie Foundation Award is by far the most prestigious recognition one can receive in this profession. For CASE-Carnegie to think that the entire body of my academic work is worthy of such recognition is both overwhelming and humbling.”

In addition to an all-expenses-paid trip, Sufka got a framed certificate of recognition. Winners were also recognized at a congressional reception and have opportunities to participate in media interviews, speaking engagements, teaching forums and other events.

The university shares Sufka’s recognition, UM administrators said.

“Dr. Sufka is a role model at our campus and is now a recognized model of excellence to the nation,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We are proud to have him as a faculty member at the University of Mississippi.”

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, said Sufka sets the bar for excellent teaching and creative scholarship among students and colleagues.

“(He) has produced more final theses with our high performing Honors students than any other professor on campus,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “The ethic of excellence that guides his work and interaction with our students creates a powerful magnetic attraction to those who want to push the boundaries of knowledge and wisdom.”

Sufka is most deserving of the award, said Michael T. Allen, chair and professor of psychology.

“I immediately felt a sense of pride for him and the Department of Psychology, but I wasn’t really surprised,” Allen said. “Dr. Sufka has won essentially all of the awards for teaching and service that the university bestows, and he has been a magnificent teacher and mentor of students for many years. What makes him so special is his love of teaching and his constant effort to become better and better at it, along with his sincere desire to have students succeed in his classes.”

Sufka earned his bacheor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University. Before joining the UM faculty in 1992, he conducted research at Drake University, Des Moines University and Duke University. Sufka is a visiting research fellow at Newcastle University and an associate member of the UM Medical Center’s Cancer Institute.

“The University of Mississippi was a good fit for me when I was offered the position and it remains a good fit more than two decades later,” Sufka said. “It offered the right balance of teaching and research I was hoping to find in a mid-sized, flagship university located in a great little college town. While the university and Oxford have grown considerably, I am still able to find that perfect balance of teaching courses in psychology and engaging in laboratory research in neuroscience.”

Sufka said he is following in the footsteps of professors who taught and mentored him.

“I think all of us can point to a teacher/mentor that inspired and nurtured us in immeasurable ways,” Sufka said. “Professor Ron Peters at Iowa State University was that person for me. His love and enthusiasm for teaching, alongside a masterful ability to convey the most complex and interesting material, made it clear that I wanted to become a brain scientist and university professor.”

Sufka teaches several courses at UM, including General Psychology, Biopsychology, Psychopharmacology lab, Physiological Psychology and Teaching of Psychology seminar. A campus favorite among students and faculty alike, he has received the 1996 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2005 Faculty Achievement Award and the 2006 Thomas F. Frist Student Service Award. His other awards and honors include Top 20 Psychology Professor in Mississippi, Distinguished Alumni Award from ISU’s Department of Psychology, Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association and Top 40 Under 40 Mississippian.

Sufka holds professional memberships in the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. With research interests in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology, he has written more than 67 refereed papers, 10 book chapters and one book, “The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades” (Nautilus Publishing, 2011).

“I wrote that to help my students at UM to better transition from high school coursework to college level course work, or from lower division courses to the harder upper division courses,” Sufka said. “It is an academic survival guide of sorts that detail a number of bad habits commonly exhibited by students that contribute to poor grades and offers evidenced based tips/strategies that promote course learning and yield much higher grades.”

Many colleges and universities across the U.S. have used Sufka’s book for specific programs.

“Some schools, like UNLV and Washington State University, have given it out as a summer reading assignment for their incoming freshman classes,” he said. “This has led to my giving numerous faculty and student workshops on promoting students’ academic success across the country and here at UM.”

Sufka has been the principal investigator on grants and contracts totaling more than $660,000. A prolific author, he has presented more than 120 conference papers and abstracts.

Sufka has directed 12 master’s theses and eight doctoral dissertations. He is a regularly invited speaker at freshman summer orientation sessions and helped develop the initial Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College curriculum. He also volunteers with the Oxford-Lafayette County Habitat for Humanity.

CASE launched the awards program in 1981. That same year, the Carnegie Foundation began hosting the final round of judging, and in 1982 became the primary sponsor.

For more about the UM Department of Psychology, visit http://psychology.olemiss.edu. For more about the U.S. Professor of the Year Awards program, visit http://www.usprofessorsoftheyear.org.

Ole Miss MBA Program Ranked by Businessweek

New mark is highest national ranking ever for program

The University of Mississippi School of Business is located in Holman Hall.

The UM School of Business Administration is housed in Holman Hall.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s MBA program has been ranked 76th nationally by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The schools that made the ranking are considered by Businessweek to offer the strongest education and best preparation for business careers.

“We are very happy with the MBA ranking,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “This ranking reflects the hard work of our faculty and staff, as well as the board who has helped us in many ways. We are grateful for the recognition and will continue the good work to provide an excellent education and preparation to our students entering the workforce, and enhance the value of the MBA degrees for our alumni.”

MBA_76The MBA program has been ranked in the low 90s by U.S. News and World Report, but this is the highest national ranking it has ever received, said Del Hawley, the school’s senior associate dean. The program was ranked higher than other respected programs, including those at the University of Alabama, Oklahoma University and Baylor University, he said.

“The Businessweek ranking is exciting news!” Hawley said. “Clearly, our program delivers tremendous value to our students and is an increasingly attractive alternative to many larger and more costly programs.”

The rankings are based on student satisfaction, which includes school culture and academic quality; a survey from employers that hire those graduates to reflect career prep of the program; and the expertise of the faculty that administers the education, including articles published in business journals.

“This upward ranking trend reinforces what so many global employers, alumni and current students know: graduating with an Ole Miss MBA provides students with an educational cornerstone to succeed throughout their career,” said Chris Daniel, MBA Alumni Board president and a strategic buyer for Exxon Mobil in Houston.

Ann Canty, the MBA program faculty director, said she is thankful for student participation in the survey.

“We are aware that MBA students consistently tell us that school culture is important in selecting the right MBA program,” Canty said. “The unique aspects of the Ole Miss MBA program school culture were communicated very well by our students.”

The program’s goal is to increase enrollment with strong candidates and equip MBA students with the tools to succeed in a competitive workforce, said Ashley Jones, director of MBA/MHA administration.

“Support from our MBA Alumni Board makes our program unique,” Jones said. “The board realizes the importance of professional development and has created a series of professional development workshops to make Ole Miss MBAs stand out. Their time and dedication to prepare our students is an asset to our program.”

According to the findings, the Ole Miss business school has an average GMAT score of 550 for admitted students. The cost of the program for Mississippi residents is around $15,000 and the average salary of graduates from the program is $56,000 annually.

UM Focuses International Recruitment Efforts on India and China

With a goal of doubling international enrollment, officials recruit students in Hyderabad and Nanjing

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi officials have set a goal of doubling international student enrollment in five years, and officials from the UM Office of Global Engagement recently ventured into India and China to recruit freshman students from high-performing secondary schools.

Greet Provoost, director of the Office of International Programs, traveled with Jean Robinson, the office’s assistant director, to Hyderabad, India, where UM sponsored the Oakridge International School’s Model United National Conference, or OAKMUN. The conference brought together global-minded students from 30 schools around India and South Asia. Provoost also traveled to Nanjing, China, for the Jiangsu Star Student Search and met with prospective students to get the word out about UM.

“We are increasing awareness that we are on top of our game here at the University of Mississippi,” Provoost said. “We are letting prospective students and their parents know about our excellent academics, our incredible scholarship program, our safe and beautiful campus, and about the opportunities available to them as part of our campuswide focus on internationalization.”

University officials want to double international enrollment, which is nearly 1,000 students from 92 countries. To reach that goal, the Office of Global Engagement is partnering with schools, universities and media, as well as government and private agencies in target recruitment countries, with the goal of promoting the UM brand and its reputation for academic excellence.

At the suggestion of Univariety, a private enterprise commissioned by more than 300 Indian high schools, including Oakridge International School, to aid in college-abroad counseling, UM sponsored OAKMUN, which brought together more than 600 students and advisers from many of those schools.

Some of the strong selling points at OAKMUN were UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and the university’s strong bachelor’s degree programs. Efforts to get attention from international students were helped by the Manning name and the movie “The Blind Side,” to which students often referred when talking with Provoost. Video clips and pictures prompted prospective students to say UM’s campus looked as nice as a resort. 

“Having the University of Mississippi on board with us at OAKMUN 2014 was a wonderful experience, mutually beneficial, and added significant value to the conference,” said Mohseena Hussain, activity coordinator for Oakridge International School. 

Her colleague agrees.

“It is clear that Oakridge International School and the University of Mississippi share a common objective – that is to impact students across the globe,” said Biju Baby, Oakridge vice principal for international curriculum. “We look so very forward to our continued association with the University of Mississippi through OAKMUN and any other opportunities which may arise.”

In the meantime, plans are being made for Provoost to be present via remote media at Oakridge’s upcoming parent meetings to further discuss opportunities at UM. 

Some of UM’s international freshman students come from countries such as Brazil, Oman and Saudi Arabia, whose governments offer generous scholarship funds and tuition grants for their studies in the U.S. Self-funded high-performing students may be awarded UM’s academic excellence scholarships.

“We’re always looking for good students and we’re always happy if they’re funded,” Provoost said. “It balances the scholarships we give to others. But in the end, we are looking to make sure every UM student graduates having had global exposure.”

While UM has its reasons for helping international students study on campus, students have their own motivations for studying in the U.S. and at UM.

For many years, India has produced a large number of graduate students to attend American universities. That holds true at UM, too, as the vast majority of its students from India are enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs. As India develops, the competition for an undergraduate seat in one of India’s top-tier universities is fierce, so many Indian high school graduates seek a first-rate undergraduate education in the United States instead. 

“Now, it’s either the best in India, or it’s the best abroad,” Provoost said. “Students want to get into top-notch American schools.” 

In China, UM participated in the Jiangsu Star Student Search scholarship contest, presented by IntroAmerica in collaboration with the Jiangsu Education Association. The contest engaged 300 high schools in Jiangsu province. More than 9,000 essays were submitted and pared down to 625 by judges in China and the U.S. The finalists were invited to meet with officials from American universities about enrollment and scholarship opportunities.

Efforts to recruit international students will continue in China, India and other target countries by the various offices that make up the Office of Global Engagement: Office of International Programs, Study Abroad Office and the Intensive English Program. 

“The experience of bringing people from all over the world to study at UM benefits all of our students as they prepare to step into a global economy,” Provoost said. “They will collaborate with, lead and manage, or be led or managed by people with different values, who may be fluent in other languages and view the world through a different lens. It is a privilege and an opportunity for all students to be able to practice those global skills while still in school. This global astuteness is a prereq to success.”

Adopt-a-Basket, Books and Bears Donations Needed

Charitable programs assist families in need during holidays

Students packing boxes for Adopt-a-Basket

Students pack boxes for Adopt-a-Basket

OXFORD, Miss. – As the winter holidays draw near, the University of Mississippi community is working together to provide meals and toys for area families in need.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the 10th annual Adopt-a-Basket program is accepting food donations at UM’s Jackson Avenue Center. Collection dates and times are noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 18, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 19 and 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 20. The event is co-sponsored by the Associated Student Body, the Big Event and the Office of Volunteer Services.

“The number of families helped has been increasing,” said Coulter Ward, assistant dean of students for student organizations. “Last year, we had close to 500 baskets that were sent out to families. We have averaged close to 250 baskets annually for the last five years.”

Each basket provided will contain a $35 gift card (Walmart, Kroger or Larson’s Cash Saver), 2 large cans of corn, 2 large cans of green beans, a can of cranberry sauce, a large onion, 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, 3 pounds of white potatoes, a can of sweetened condensed milk, 5 pounds of sugar and 5 pounds of cornmeal. Volunteers are needed to pack baskets. Contact Kaitlyn Vogt at kvogt@go.olemiss.edu or Ward at jcward@olemiss.edu to sign up.

Before Christmas, the 17th annual Books and Bears Drive is scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 19 in a location to be determined. Sponsored by UM’s Black Faculty and Staff Organization, the drive collects new teddy bears, children’s books and toys to be presented to children of custodial and grounds workers. A reception follows the distribution.

“People inquire about the program’s particulars well before we start planning,” said Donald Cole, associate provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs. “I don’t feel as if I’m imposing when I ask for donations because I know your heart and your desire to help with the program again this year.”

Donations for Books and Bears may be dropped off at several campus locations: third floor of the Khayat Law Center, Graduate School, second floor of Vardaman Hall, first floor of Ventress Hall, Office of the Provost in the Lyceum, UM Ticket Office in Student Union, Howry Hall, Room 308, Hume Hall, Room 305, Farley Hall, Yerby Center, Career Center at Martindale Hall, Powers Hall and the Lucky Day Residential College.

For more information, contact Cole at 662-915-1712 or dcole@olemiss.edu  or Jackie Certion at jcertion@olemiss.edu.

Mississippi Teacher Corps Helps Transform a School Culture

North Panola High School raises graduation rate by more than 21 percent

With 14 current or former Mississippi Teacher Corps instructors on faculty, the program has played a key role in North Panola High School's academic turnaround. Pictured (left to right): MTC Co-Founder Andrew Mullins, Emily Herrick, Kelly King, Chelsea Brock, Daniel Hart, Ryan Eshleman, Whitney Cilch, Noah Tobak, Emily Fyda, "Coach" Derek King, Hanna Olivier and Bill Darden

The Mississippi Teacher Corps has played a key role in an academic turnaround at North Panola High School, where 14 faculty members are graduates of the program. Pictured (left to right): MTC co-founder Andrew Mullins, Emily Herrick, Kelly King, Chelsea Brock, Daniel Hart, Ryan Eshleman, Whitney Cilch, Noah Tobak, Emily Fyda, ‘Coach’ Derek King, Hanna Olivier and Bill Darden.

SARDIS, Miss. – At North Panola High School in Sardis, teachers lead class with an air of confidence, a majority of seniors plan to graduate this year and, with six wins already, the Cougars are having one of the best football seasons in the small town’s recent history.

Adding to this positive energy is the Mississippi Department of Education‘s release of state test scores. As of Oct. 17, North Panola, which has 392 students, has officially risen in status from a C school to a B school. For an institution that was near failing in 2009, the result is a significant milestone in a district that came out of conservatorship in July 2014.

North Panola’s four-year principal Jamone Edwards is quick to praise his staff, especially teachers hailing from the University of Mississippi’s Mississippi Teacher Corps. More than one-third of North Panola’s 35 teachers are current or former members of the Teacher Corps, including three of the school’s instructional coaches in English, science and social studies.

“The Teacher Corps’ impact can’t be understated at North Panola,” said Edwards, who received a master’s degree in educational leadership from UM in 2010. “Every one of our subjects that are tested by MDE is staffed by the Teacher Corps. They do a fantastic job of sending us new teachers. If you bring us a new teacher who has strong content knowledge and passion, we can teach them the rest.”

While significant and lasting change often comes slowly in education, veteran teachers at the school say North Panola is a dramatically different place than it was four years ago.

Since May 2010, the graduation rate has risen from 49 percent to nearly 72 percent. In subjects such as Algebra I and U.S. History, students’ test scores surpass state averages and they’re not far behind state averages in areas such as English II and Biology I. Last year, North Panola graduates received college scholarships valued at more than $2.2 million, up dramatically from $200,000 in 2010.

Teacher Corps alumna Hannah Olivier is a five-year science teacher at North Panola. In her time, she’s witnessed a rejuvenation of the school, especially in students’ attitudes.

“Students take school very seriously now,” said Olivier, the school’s science instructional coach. “Students are interested to try new things. A lot of kids are asking questions about colleges. It’s a very different culture here then when I started. It’s really great to see kids encourage each other and compete with each other to try and break into the top 10 or top 20 spots in their class.”

Teambuilding and retaining quality teachers have been a key parts of North Panola’s advancement, Edwards said. This means setting up accountability models, supporting good teachers and creating a productive learning environment.

“In my first year here, I was a lead teacher and I saw what was and wasn’t working. … I saw that the teachers did not feel supported, student behavior and teacher practices needed addressing” he explained. “The first thing I did as principal was to draw a hard line on what is and what isn’t acceptable for teachers and students. We have to make sure the environment is conducive to teaching and learning.”

Tactically, North Panola has built itself up by establishing a series of “safety nets.” From freshman year, students identified as at-risk in reading in junior high are enrolled in an extra 40-minute remediation period during the school day. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the school offers afternoon tutoring.

Once a semester, classes are paused for a parents’ visit day to ensure that every parent has a chance to sit down with North Panola teachers. This fall, more than 200 parents came to meet with faculty on Oct. 20.

When a student fails a required test for graduation, they are enrolled in a 50-minute remediation class called Learning Strategies to focus on a particular content area. For example, when 17 students failed to pass their state English II exams in 2011, the school recruited head football coach Derek King, a Teacher Corps alumnus, to lead the remediation period. As a result, 15 advanced to pass their exams.

Founded in 1989, the Mississippi Teacher Corps is supported by the state Legislature and provides some of Mississippi’s most demanding secondary classrooms with new teachers every year. Over a quarter of a century, the program has fine-tuned a process for training college graduates to teach and succeed in critical-needs settings where high teacher turnover can be the norm.

For the last two years, the program has placed record groups of 32 new teachers into schools throughout Mississippi. To date, the program has trained more than 600 teachers, most of whom are still involved in education across nation.

The Teacher Corps has placed teachers at North Panola for the last eight years; however, the relationship between the school and program has improved greatly in the last four. The Teacher Corps’ administration seeks to place groups of teachers within schools they believe have supportive principals.

“Nothing works in a school unless you have a principal who supports teachers,” explained Teacher Corps co-founder Andrew Mullins. “That means visiting their classrooms, giving advice and backing them up. Jamone has done an excellent job in seeking out our teachers and supporting them. For first-year teachers, every day is a learning experience.”

An alternate route program, the Teacher Corps is a two-year commitment that culminates in a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM. Acceptance into the program is highly competitive and includes a full-time teaching job at a critical needs school and full tuition to UM.

A self-described data-driven leader, Edwards provides no guesswork as to his vision for the future of North Panola High School: the school’s B ranking is a step toward becoming an A school. He hopes to continue his relationship with the Mississippi Teacher Corps.

“Superintendent Cedric Richardson has brought great stability to North Panola,” Edwards said. “My goal for North Panola High School is to have a 100 percent graduation rate, and a 100 percent passage rate on our state exams and to be an A school.”

Open the Envelope Today and Live United Way

Open the Envelope

Open the Envelope

OXFORD, Miss. – All University of Mississippi employees should begin receiving a mailing from the campus United Way campaign committee today (Nov. 5). Everyone is encouraged to open the envelope and accept the challenge to donate a portion of your salary to help the worthy cause.

The sooner each of us makes a pledge, the quicker we will reach the $150,000 goal for this year. Not only that, but the first 25 people who take and submit a photo of themselves opening the envelope will get a free, “Live United” T-shirt personally delivered to them on campus. To post photos and be eligible for the free T-shirt giveaway, simply tweet your photo to @OleMissRebels, the university’s official Twitter account, or email your picture to getsocial@olemiss.edu before Nov. 30.

“The members of the UM United Way Campaign Committee invite all administration, faculty and staff to participate in this year’s fundraising efforts,” said Kate Kellum, associate director of institutional research and assessment and the faculty-staff chair. “Contributions may be made through payroll deductions each work period, or through Fair Share, Associate or Leadership giving plans.”

Fair Share givers contribute one hour’s wages each month to the United Way. Associate givers donate $250 to $499 a year. Leadership givers contribute at least $500 a year.

Employees have until Nov. 30 to make a pledge, but are urged not to procrastinate.

“As the holidays approach, the number of calls for philanthropy typically increases,” said Lucile McCook, director of health professions advising office and campus committee co-chair. “In this critical economic climate, we want to make sure that our campus United Way campaign is not inadvertently omitted lest we fall short of reaching our goal.”

So go ahead; make someone’s day. Open the envelope and live the United Way.

Jay Watson to Deliver Annual Humanities Lecture

Teacher of the year to discuss Faulkner's observations on speed of modern life Nov. 3

Dr. Jay Watson speaking at the opening of the Faulkner Books Exhibit.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Jay Watson speaks at the opening of the Faulkner Books exhibit. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Jay Watson, the Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies at the University of Mississippi, has been named the university’s Humanities Teacher of the Year and will deliver an annual lecture Nov. 3 at Bondurant Auditorium.

Watson’s lecture, titled “William Faulkner on Speed: What the Humanities Can Teach Us about the Velocity and Tempo of Modern Life,” it will explore Faulkner and the phenomenon of modern speed. The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

Faulkner’s works illustrate how the humanities can provide a window into meaningful social issues that link our era with earlier ones, Watson said. Though speed has taken new forms since Faulkner’s day, the social consequences and challenges of speed remain with us today, and many of those challenges can already be glimpsed in Faulkner’s novels and stories.

Watson added the topic directly ties into his research about Faulkner and tempo, noting that it demonstrates how the humanities can offer a window into some of these interesting social problems.

The Humanities Teacher of the Year Award is given each October, which is National Arts and Humanities Month, to faculty members who make outstanding contributions to the humanities. The award is presented in the spring at the Mississippi Humanities Council’s awards ceremony.

Watson said he is honored to receive the award.

“It was an unexpected honor and a real delight, and it’s an award that brings with it a responsibility to stay focused on students and the classroom as the real intellectual and human center of the teaching life,” he said.

Watson is deserving of the award, said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“The Humanities Teacher of the Year Lecture is a celebration of the humanities,” Forgette said. “Professor Watson is being recognized for his outstanding work and significant contributions to teaching.”

Watson has been a member of the UM faculty for 25 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia and his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in English and American literature and language from Harvard University. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Faculty Achievement Award and nominee for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award. His articles on Southern literature and humanities have been featured in several publications, including American Quarterly, American Literature and Modern Fiction Studies.

The event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

The Mississippi Humanities Council sponsors, supports and conducts a range of public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community and thus empower Mississippi’s people with a vision for the future.

The College of Liberal Arts is the university’s oldest and largest division. Visit http://libarts.olemiss.edu for more information.

UM Biologist’s Research Makes News

Ryan Garrick studying tortoises in Galapagos Islands

photo credit: Yale University

photo credit: Yale University

A University of Mississippi biology professor’s study of giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands is being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Ryan C. Garrick is the lead author of the paper “Lineage fusion in Galápagos giant tortoises,” which will appear in Molecular Ecology (one of the top journals in the field of population genetics and evolutionary biology). It will be accompanied by a “News and Views” perspective article, used to draw attention to high-profile research that is likely to be of interest to the public.

“The findings are of broad interest because it focuses on a geographic region central to Charles Darwin’s synthesis of ideas about evolution and natural selection,” Garrick said. “We also present unusually clean genetic data on a phenomenon occurring in nature that is rarely caught in the act: the fusion of two long-isolated lineages, one of which is very likely doomed to extinction.”

The paper was written in collaboration with researchers from Yale University, State University of New York at Syracuse, the University of British Columbia in Canada, the University of Florence in Italy and the Galapagos National Park Service in Ecuador. Chaz Hyseni, a UM doctoral student in biology, is among the co-authors.

Josh Gladden Elected to Two National Leadership Roles

NCPA director brings leadership, experience and vision to professional societies

Josh Gladden

Josh Gladden

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi administrator and associate professor of physics and astronomy has been elected to two national societies’ leadership positions.

Joseph “Josh” Gladden, director of the university’s National Center for Physical Acoustics, is chair of the Acoustical Society of America’s Physical Acoustics Technical Committee. During his three-year term in the role, his primary duties are to represent the physical acoustics community to the larger ASA leadership, work to ensure a broad and robust representation of physical acoustics at the biannual ASA meetings, and to help implement tools and resources to advance and connect the international physical acoustics community.

Gladden is also a “member-at-large” for the topical Group on Instrumentation and Measurement Science, which is a unit of the American Physical Society. The focus of GIMS is to advance the development of new measurement tools and techniques by creating a forum for discussions, collaborations, awareness and recognition of significant achievements.

“I am honored to represent my colleagues in the national and international physical acoustics research community,” Gladden said. “My election to the GIMS came a bit of a surprise, but I am excited to get involved in this group.”

Gladden shared his vision for both groups.

“My primary goals as chair will be to increase and improve tools for physical acoustics researchers to connect and collaborate, as well is to maintain a wide range of topics being discussed at our biannual meetings,” he said. “The primary goal of the GIMS is to promote and provide a venue for dialogue on the development of new instrumentation and measurement techniques in the physics community.

“This is important because often, new breakthroughs in physics and science in general follow the development of a new tool which provides new insight.”

Gladden’s predecessor, Albert Migliori of Los Alamos National Lab, said he is confident the UM professor will make do a great job as chair.

“Josh eats, sleeps, breathes physical acoustics and is in both an intellectual and leadership position to advance the field better than anyone in the U.S.,” Migliori said. “Josh builds high-performance ultrasound measurements systems based on an advanced technology called Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy and uses them for cutting edge research.

“Because he builds, not buys, the measurement systems, he has unique research capabilities as well as providing real educational opportunities for budding scientists as students.”

Gladden joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor in 2005 after earning his Ph.D. and working as a postdoctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University. Before that, he worked three years as a physics instructor at the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico. The United World College is an international school for gifted students representing approximately 70 countries with a network of 10 sister campuses around the globe.

Gladden holds master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Montana and Penn State, respectively. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South and was a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State in 2003-2005.

Gladden co-authored a paper, “Motion of a Viscoelastic Micellar Fluid Around a Cylinder: Flow and Fracture,” which was listed in “Physics News of 2007″ by the American Physical Society. His other honors and awards include membership on the Emerging Leaders Conference steering committee of promising recent alumni of the University of the South, both the Duncan and Bradock Fellowships for doctoral students at Penn State, the Tandy Technology Scholars Award for Education in Science and the William T. Allen Award in Physics.

Gladden has co-authored 21 juried articles, been an invited speaker at 18 conferences and secured research grants totaling $621,005 over a seven-year period. Gladden’s research areas are resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, wormlike micellar materials, continuum and granular dynamics.

He and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Chase, Camille and Josephine.

Established in 1989, the NCPA has unique facilities and infrastructure, including an anechoic chamber, a Mach 5 wind tunnel, a jet test facility, a resonant ultraspectroscopy lab, Faraday labs and a multimillion dollar machine shop for in-house design. NCPA employs 30 permanent, full-time individuals, as well as 16 graduate students, five research fellows and eight undergraduates. Its research scientists are recognized experts in their fields, bringing experience from government, academia and industry.

To view Gladden’s website, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/~jgladden/.

For more information about the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, call 662-915-5889 or go to http://ncpa.olemiss.edu/.