The Fairmount College newsletter is published two times a year. For information, contact
Cheryl K. Miller, writer and coordinating editor, at 316-978-6659 or email@example.com.
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You’ll find events, photos and articles about our faculty, staff, students and departments.
Photo credits: Cheryl K. Miller and courtesy photos
Local and Community History Program Tied to Connections and Place
By Cheryl Miller
Jay Price, chair and professor of history, considers Wichita a modern laboratory rich in local
and community history.
The city is home to several resources reflective of or tied to the Cold War, the Beat
movement, civil rights, McCarthyism and the Southern Diaspora. Religious architecture
varies as much as the religious denominations and their histories: Buddhist, Christian,
Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and several others. Many residents have multigenerational ties
to the area, going back to the time of settlement.
“There’s a connection and rootedness to place here,” Price said. “We have a really
strong array of institutions and groups and organizations.”
Local rootedness is one of the reasons the history department changed the name and
curriculum of the graduate program in public history to local and community history.
The program is now broader in application and allows more focus in topic.
“Public history is about audience and is the presenting of historical skills and research
to audiences in non-academic settings,“ Price said. “Local and community history can
include public history, but it can also be academic."
For example, Price is working with David Hughes, associate professor of anthropology, and Sue Abdinnour, professor of business. They are using GIS mapping and analysis of data from the
Center for Economic Development and Business Research to examine ethnic entrepreneurship
on north Broadway in Wichita. They anticipate their study will be published in an
Students who want to understand some facet of Wichita’s history and share it with
others find their way to Price’s door. Barb Myers completed her undergraduate degree in history at Wichita State but decided she wasn’t
done. She enrolled in the local and community history program to further her research
and skills in preservation.
“I am most interested in preserving buildings, books and cemeteries,” Myers said.
“I am currently working on a project in which I will be able to research Wichita,
give a tour of a cemetery and convey the overall history of cemeteries and proper
etiquette in all cemeteries.”
Unique Restaurants are Part of Local and Community History
Price describes the graduate program as emphasizing interdisciplinarity, and history
faculty encourage students to combine more than one discipline in their work. In one
instance, this included meteorology.
“For the Arcadia book, ‘Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley,’ everyone on the project
team had to go through storm spotter training,” said Price. “That was the requirement
to be part of the team. That doesn’t mean you’re out chasing tornadoes we discouraged
that—but they had to be conversant. It’s understanding how the pieces fit together."
This interdisciplinarity and interconnectedness sometimes occurs naturally. “I was
talking with someone who was working with Berry Harris, a local musician,” Price said. “In the course of the conversation, things came up
that related to the work I am doing on the rock ‘n’ roll book, a recent photo history
of the African-American community, the ongoing local Jewish history research, and
the work on Broadway.
“In another case, I was interviewing a person with the rock ‘n’ roll project whose
father was a pastor with one of the Southern Baptist churches in the city and was
therefore a tie-in to a current project on Southern religion and region in this city.
“I am constantly struck by how things in one project relate to things in a totally
different one,” said Price. “I see each new research project as a chance to build
contacts and knowledge that will often come in handy down the road in ways I cannot
For more information about the local and community history program, go to http://bit.ly/1LPSYct.
Recent Projects by Local and Community History Students
- Assisted Exploration Place with reinterpreting its exhibit on Ackerman Island and
its relationship with Wichita and the Big Arkansas River
- Completed mock National Registry of Historical Places applications for historic buildings
in the area
- Helped facilitate recording the history of Bel Aire
- Assisted with an exhibition for a historical museum in Mount Hope
- Co-authored and published numerous Arcadia photo books including “African Americans
of Wichita,” “Wichita’s Lebanese Heritage” and “Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley”
Faculty Spotlight: Jay Price
Jay Price has always been a history nut.
He grew up in Santa Fe, NM, surrounded by constant reminders of its place as the oldest
capital city in North America, the oldest European city west of the Mississippi and
the center point of the Spanish conquest of New Mexico.
Price’s early career considerations, however, were about foreign service. His first
job as a microform technician persuaded him otherwise. He helped microfilm documents
for the court system in New Mexico and hung out in the state Supreme Court library
in his spare time.
These experiences led him to study history at the University of New Mexico for a bachelor’s
degree, political science at William and Mary for a master’s degree and history again
at Arizona State University, for a doctoral degree.
His hobbies are inseparable from his work.
“As a historian, the weird thing is that your hobbies and professional activities
are all kind of the same thing,” he said. Price enjoys photography, architectural
model building, model trains and exploring the local area. He shares his life with
his partner, Doug Terhune, and three cats: Zeek, Ritten and Quentin, whom he named
after Teddy Roosevelt’s son.
Racial Profiling Research Leads to Policy Changes
By Emily Mullins
Michael Birzer, director of the School of Community Affairs, recently completed a five-year research
project exploring racial profiling in Kansas. The results of the research have led
to the development of an updated biased-based policing course offered at the Kansas
Law Enforcement Training Center.
The study, commissioned by the Kansas Department of Transportation, involved two separate
investigative phases. During the first phase, Birzer traveled to more than 25 communities
in Kansas collecting the stories of minority members who had experienced racial profiling.
The people Birzer encountered told similar stories about the culture of policing.
Afri-can-American youths are often taught how to behave when pulled over by the police,
something that is traditionally not done in Caucasian families.
“Some people don’t think we need to look back at history, but I think it plays a very
important role here,” said Birzer. “If we want to really do criminal justice reform,
we have to address those issues."
Birzer worked in law enforcement for 18 years prior to working in academia and under-stands
the background of racial profiling issues that minorities experience.
“It illuminated how citizens perceive racial profiling,” said Birzer. “Sometimes citizens
were never even told why they were pulled over.”
The second phase of Birzer’s research had him traveling Kansas once again, but this
time he asked for feedback from police officers in response to what minority citizens
said about their experiences with racial profiling.
“A lot of researchers go out and try to quantify the information by looking at citation
data and stop data and trying to make inferences about it, and I think we miss some
context there,” said Birzer. “Numbers don’t always tell us what’s going on.”
Making an Impact
After his research was published, Birzer used it to develop the biased-based policing
training curriculum for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson,
which trains approximately 75 percent of law enforcement officers in Kansas. Taking
a course in racial profiling is a yearly requirement for Kansas officers, and many
take Birzer’s course to meet the requirement. Ed Pavey, director of the training center,
said it helps remind officers of the standards that must be maintained to do the job
“People expect a certain level of behavior from officers,” said Pavey.
The goal of Birzer’s research was not simply to provide information to the general
public, but to bring about change.
“There are some researchers who do research just to do it,” said Birzer. “I want to
do research that is going to have an impact and make lives better.”
After seeing the success of the law enforcement training, Birzer took the opportunity
to develop the information into a special topics course on racial profiling at WSU.
Since the class was first offered in 2012, it has had 50 or more students enrolled
each spring semester.
“Research can be more than just a journal article that sits on the shelf for 10 years
that nobody ever reads,” said Birzer. “It can be a venue to change lives and change
fundamental policy, and then you can take it right into the classroom.”
Raising Funds to Make a Difference
By Cheryl Miller
Kristi Oberg, director of development for Fairmount College, views her role as helping
others make a difference in the world.
She sees fundraising as having the biggest impact on the most number of people. Her
work orientation centers on this idea. Her main goal is to build relationships that
will provide meaningful opportunities for alumni, faculty and friends of WSU who support
the fundraising priorities of Fairmount College.
“The work is from my heart,” said Oberg. “It’s building relationships to achieve positive
outcomes. Building relationships is what my job is about and what I love the most
Oberg’s fundraising priorities for Fairmount College are varied. They include:
- Purchase of one high-clearance, four- wheel drive vehicle for the departments of biological
sciences, anthropology and geology to use for field experiences and field camps;
- An increase in the number of high-impact scholarships and fellowships for Fairmount
- Establishing two additional endowed chairs and six additional endowed professorships
in Fairmount College, which currently has 10 endowed faculty positions.
Oberg started working at Wichita State in January 2015. The native Kansan grew up
in Wichita and earned both of her degrees in communication from WSU. Aside from being
a Shocker, Oberg was drawn to Wichita State by the reputation of high standards and
goals set by Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation CEO and president. Oberg has previous
fundraising experience with the Kansas Humane Society and the National Conference
of Christians and Jews. She considers Sharon Miles, a former foundation director for
Fairmount College who died last year, as her mentor and shares Miles’ love of being
exposed to the diversity of thinking in Fairmount College.
Louis Guillette Jr., 60, died Aug. 6. Guillette taught at Wichita State University in the 1980s and is
best known for linking his research into the endocrine disruption in alligators to
consequences in human health. Memorials may be made to the Louis J. Guillette Jr.
Graduate Student Travel Award via the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology
website at http://nasce-snaec.com/nasce-awards/.
Calvin Garth Noah, 90, retired WSU geology professor, died Oct. 18 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s
disease. Memorials may be made to Harry Hynes Hospice, 313 S. Market, Wichita, KS
Robert K. “Bob” Knapp, 83, died Nov. 9 following a brief illness. Knapp joined the Wichita University faculty
as a psychology professor in 1961 and retired from Wichita State University in 1996,
having taught courses in industrial and motivational psychology. He also helped establish
WSU’s doctoral program emphasizing human factors. Memorials may be made to the B-29
restoration project Doc’s Friends, Inc., P.O. Box 771089, Wichita, KS 67277 or the
Christopher R. Knapp Fellowship at WSU, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260.
Faculty & Staff Accolades
James Beck, assistant professor of biological sciences, procured a $149,000 grant from the National
Science Foundation for his project “Phylogenomic analyses of goldenrods (Solidago,
Asteraceae) using herbarium specimens.” His work will use genomic data from hundreds
of museum specimens to reconstruct the diversity and evolutionary history of this
challenging plant group. Three WSU undergraduate researchers will participate in an
experience combining museum, laboratory and bioinformatic techniques.
Elizabeth Behrman, professor of physics, gave two invited talks in India in November. She delivered
the keynote address at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International
Conference on Research in Computational Intelligence and Communication Networks in
Kolkata, and was an inaugural speaker at the Quantum and Nanocomputing Systems and
Applications conference in Agra.
Doris T. Chang, associate professor of women’s studies, was invited to join the editorial board
of the International Journal of Taiwan Studies, 2016-2020. In addition, she was invited
to give a talk on “Women’s Empowerment and Leadership in East Asia” at the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C.
Mel Kahn, professor of political science, was elected president of the Wichita Downtown Lions
Kenneth Kriz, Regents Distinguished Professor of Public Finance, opened Economic Opportunity in
Kansas, a conference about upcoming economic policy. Kriz discussed the state of the
economy and economic opportunity in Kansas.
Cheryl Miller, senior assistant dean, has been selected as the 2016 Communicator of Achievement
by the Kansas Professional Communicators. This award considers professional achievement,
community service and service to the National Federation of Press Women, Kansas Professional
Communicators and Wichita Professional Communicators.
Chinyere Okafor, professor of women’s studies, gave a keynote paper at the Social Science International
Conference at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Nigeria in December.
Jay Price, professor of history, is the 2016 John R. Barrier Distinguished Teaching Award recipient.
The award honors humanities and social sciences faculty who exhibit excellent teaching
and influence upon the lives and career choices of their students.
Deborah Ballard-Reisch, Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication, is the
recipient of the President’s Distinguished Service Award. Recipients are recognized
for having demonstrated outstanding service to the university community beyond their
Barbara Chaparro, associate professor of psychology, is the recipient of the Excellence in Research
Award. The award is made annually to a Wichita State University faculty member who
has established an exemplary and demonstrable record of research that has not only
enhanced the faculty member’s career but has also advanced the University’s research
William Groutas, WSU Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is the recipient of the Academy
of Effective Teaching Award, a student nominated award. Finalists in the nomination
process submit teaching portfolios, which are then evaluated by Academy Steering Committee
Greg Houseman, associate professor of biological sciences, is the WSU Board of Trustees Young Faculty
Scholar Award recipient. The award recognizes excellence in scholarship and creative
activity among faculty at the outset of their careers.
Four Fairmount College faculty were recognized for their work at the first Innovation
Celebration award ceremony, hosted by WSU Ventures in October. Bill Groutas, WSU Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Douglas English, associate professor of chemistry, each received the Patent Award. Barbara Chaparro, associate professor of psychology, accepted the Ambassador Award, and Jibo He, assistant professor of psychology, was honored with the Newsmaker Award. Awardees
were chosen because of their adoption and advancement of the Innovation University
initiative. For more information on WSU becoming the Innovation University, go to
Marcus Berndt, biological sciences major, is the recipient of the 2016 Rosa Lee and Alvin Sarachek
Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Natural Sciences. The award is granted each
spring to a graduating senior majoring in biology, chemistry, geology or physics who
has exhibited exceptional scholarly achievement within and beyond the classroom.
Laura Guillén, graduate student in Spanish, has been selected as a recipient of a 2016 Sigma Delta
Pi Graduate Research Grant Award. Her research project, “Competencia Comunicativa
Intercultural: Estudiantes universitarios en un programa de inmersión” was selected
from a competitive, national pool of applications.
LaRissa Lawrie, communication major, has been named a University Innovation Fellow by the National
Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). The fellows program seeks
to empower student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship,
creativity and design thinking. Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation
and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell.
Bryan Lickteig, graduate student in chemistry, was recognized for an outstanding scientific research
presentation at the 14th annual Kansas IDeA (Institutional Development Awards) Network
of Biomedical Research Excellence. He presented “Dopaminergic cell toxicity of a derivative
of Parkinsonian toxin, 4-methylphenlpyridinium (MPP+),” which explores preventative
strategies for Parkinson’s disease. Erin Nisly, political science major, and Mel Kahn,
professor of political science, presented “The Discharge Petition as an Effective
Legislative Weapon” at the Midwest Political Science Conference in Chicago.
Erin Nisly, political science major, and Mel Kahn, professor of political science, presented “The Discharge Petition as an Effective
Legislative Weapon” at the Midwest Political Science Conference in Chicago.
Sam Richardson, physics major, has been admitted to the elite NASA summer academy at Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Interns are immersed in a NASA environment and
experience the agency from both inside and outside perspectives. They also interact
with NASA collaborators in industry and academia.
In February, the Wichita State Model United Nations team participated in the Midwest
Model UN conference in St. Louis, where team members represented Guatemala, Canada
and Italy. The students spent the fall semester preparing for this experience and,
over the course of 3-1/2 days, spent 28 hours in intense negotiations with students
from 40 other universities. The team brought home 10 awards, including Outstanding
Delegation, Outstanding Delegate, Delegate’s Choice and Outstanding Position paper.
Award recipients included Marilyn Morton, Isaac Schurter, Erendira Jimenez-Gonzalez, Mika Hyer, DJ Gering, Toyosi Adesoye and Arely Navarrete. Three experienced WSU Model UN students were selected to serve on the conference
staff: Taben Azad, Andrea Luque and Autumn Nance.
Dear alumni, faculty, staff and friends, Life as a dean is so rewarding! Fairmount
College faculty continue to shine through their teaching, research and service, and
they make my job easy since all I have to do is reflect their excellence back to them.
Fairmount College students make their mark on the future of our institution as they
create remarkable personal futures. Fairmount College staff serve with dedication
while enhancing all that the faculty and students accomplish. What could be better
for a college dean than the great people who serve the mission of the university and
the college? To all faculty, staff and students I offer a hearty thank you. My days
are full of excitement and energy because I work with you.
The university and each of the colleges face funding challenges. These difficulties
will be handled in ways that bring all of us together in a concerted effort to make
a better experience for our students and a better college. In this regard, I am reminded
of a Zen koan: “Life is full of manure. Manure makes things grow, and is excellent
fertilizer.” Fairmount College will be better and stronger because of the collective
energies we bring to meeting the challenges.
Our alumni are Fairmount College’s most underutilized asset. Throughout these past
few months, I have spent more time with alumni in different cities and in different
contexts. Whether in Kansas City, Chicago or here in Wichita, we may be at a pre-game
rally or on the 70th floor of a business building. We often meet over a meal or coffee.
No matter the people or the event, WSU alumni demonstrate over and over how important
their education has been to them. So often this optimistic spirit is pinned to a professor
or person on our campus, a class or a field experience, or even a quote from a lecture.
Such experiences have tied them to WSU because WSU positively impacted their lives.
Fairmount College and the liberal arts and sciences are immensely important. Who we
are academically and the knowledge we impart live through the work of our current
and past students. Because of this, the world is a more humane and intelligent place
for our work, and the collective efforts of our alumni, faculty, staff and students
attest to a brilliant future following our 121-year past.
Ron Matson, Dean