Dean's Newsletter

Vol. 6, Issue 5

Spring 2012: Vol. 6, Issue 5

The first system of sabbatical leaves was established at Harvard University in 1880 under President Charles W. Elliot.  The motivation behind such leaves was well articulated by the Trustees of Columbia University in 1907 when they wrote:

The practice now prevalent in Colleges and Universities of this country of granting periodical leaves of absence to their professors was established not in the interests of the professors themselves but for the good of university education.  University teaching must be progressive: it requires on the part of the teaching body … a periodical refurbishing of its equipment. It is not merely national, it is international; contact with other institutions, with specialists of other countries, with methods of acquiring and imparting knowledge in vogue elsewhere … is for the real University teacher an intellectual and practical necessity.1

While some outsiders may perceive sabbaticals as an unnecessary faculty boondoggle, a kind of paid vacation, the Trustees of Columbia then and enlightened administrators today know that universities provide these leaves because they are an investment in the future of their institutions. As competition becomes ever stiffer for retaining good students and winning new grant dollars, it becomes even more important to keep our faculty at the cutting edge of their specializations, and sabbaticals do just that.  In addition, today the goal behind sabbaticals has expanded to include conducting original research and creative activity.

After having completed seven years of service, CSU faculty have access to an annual competition for professional leaves. The CLASS Dean’s Office has just submitted our recommendations for faculty professional leaves for the 2012-13 academic year, and we should know soon which have been authorized. Moreover, when faculty return from their leaves, they must report what they accomplished during their time away from campus—how they, in effect, helped to improve their credentials and build a stronger CSU future.  The ten CLASS faculty who were on leave during the 2010-11 academic year have by now submitted their reports, and I thought it would be enlightening to share some of the results with you.  You can see for yourselves how productive our colleagues have been.  Six scholars had significant overseas experiences. Two produced textbooks, and others made progress on scholarly monographs and research articles.

In English, Rachel Carnell used her full-year leave to continue the study of eighteenth century British and American literature.   She completed and had accepted two articles on Charlotte Lennox and Tabitha Tenney, respectively.  She also made major progress on a new book of historical non-fiction concerning the lives of Delarivier Manley, the Duchess of Marlborough, and Queen Anne.  Jim Marino made good progress on a new book entitled The Laius Complex: Shakespeare, Freud, and the Murderous Father.  Marino writes that the book “will propose a new interpretive strategy that no longer accepts adults’ fantasies about children as truths, as Freud does, but instead examines them as revealing fantasies that illuminate Western culture’s durable anxieties.”  Marino also completed a book chapter as well as two encyclopedia entries during his leave.

In History and Religious Studies, Steve Cory completed a draft of a book entitled Reviving the Caliphate in Early Modern Morocco, a thoroughly revised and expanded version of his dissertation. He also completed a grant proposal and traveled to Amman, Jordan to set up a new CSU Study Abroad opportunity for the Middle East Studies program.  Joyce Mastboom created a full transcription of and did extensive research on the archived letters of a local World War I veteran, Raymond Kelley.  She also did research on the diaries of some of the fellow soldiers in his division.  From this archival research came a draft of a scholarly article. 

From Modern Languages, Hebat El-Attar used her full-year leave to complete several articles and book chapters, which will eventually lead to a book and which examine the cultural and literary performance of Arab immigrants in Latin America. These various works are being published in English, Spanish, and Arabic.  In addition, she also completed a translation from Spanish to Arabic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “The Chilean Coup and the US.”  Finally, she spent eight months in Egypt, reconnecting to Egyptian public universities and giving three public lectures.  While there, she experienced firsthand the “Arab Spring” and wrote commentary on it for the Egyptian national press.

In Music, Birch Browning completed several chapters for an innovative music education textbook. This preliminary work has been well-received and merited the award of a publication contract from Oxford University Press.

In Communication, Ed Horowitz visited Warsaw, Poland to collaborate on two projects with Polish scholars at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities.  A paper based on this collaboration will be presented at the regional conference of the World Association of Public Opinion Research.  A second paper, co-authored with Anup Kumar and Rob Whitbred was presented at the conference of the Midwest Association of Public Opinion Research.  Gary Pettey, in collaboration with Cheryl Bracken and Elizabeth Babin, completed eight chapters of a research methods textbook now scheduled for publication by Routledge/Taylor and Francis next December.

In Political Science, Qingshan Tan used his year-long leave to continue his field research on local democratic reform in China.  While in South Asia he gave several lectures and conference presentations, and he published two new articles in the journals Asian Perspective and The Journal of Local Self-Government.  Jeffrey Lewis continued his research on the European Union.  He presented an invited lecture at the Center of Comparative and International Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.  In addition, he completed a chapter on the EU reconstruction assistance to Iraq, which appeared in an edited volume entitled Making EU Foreign Policy: National Preferences, European Norms, and Common Policies (Palgrave/Macmillan).  Finally, he completed a second article, which is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of the European Union.

Clearly, we can be proud of the good work accomplished by our colleagues, and we can see that our colleagues enlarged the communal fund of knowledge and, in so doing, prepared themselves to be even more effective teachers as they returned to the classroom last fall.  Later this spring, you will have the opportunity to hear presentations by two of these scholars in the college-sponsored session entitled Ways of Knowing in CLASS.

Turning to other news: The CSU Poetry Center has announced that one of their authors, Emily Kendal Frey, has won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America.  Ms. Frey’s book is entitled The Grief Performance, and it was published by the Poetry Center in 2011.

Our new colleague Linda Francis (Sociology and Criminology) has won a $141,500 grant from the National Cancer Institute.  Dr. Francis’ study is called “The Context of Caregiving and Bereavement in Late Stage Cancer.”  In addition, Murali Nair was just chosen to be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame of Columbia University’s School of Social Work.  He was one of three alumni selected from a field of forty distinguished nominees.

CLASS students and alumni were also distinguishing themselves.  Terri Johnson, Communication alumna, just published an article, based on her M.A. thesis, in the Journal of Communication and Religion.  Sharon Apel also shared her M.A. thesis work in a paper recently delivered at the annual meeting of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists.  In addition, graduates Clare Gross, Paul Paulisin, and Alicia Ramano presented a paper at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association.  Finally, we have just learned that Communication alumnus Ryan Lange has just been hired as an Assistant Professor at Alvernia College.  Clearly our Communication graduates are experiencing outstanding success in their chosen field.

A group of our theatre students were experiencing an interesting and creative professional success by reaching out to help students in another CSU college.  The students were recruited by a lecturer in Occupational Therapy, Karen Keptner, to portray clients with disabilities for the OT and Physical Therapy students to evaluate.  John Bazyk, chairperson of Health Sciences, witnessed their performances, and he tells me that our theatre students did a great job—they really facilitated engaged learned in his department!

I would like to close by asking you to think about textbooks.  Motivated by the unrelenting increase in textbook prices nationwide, the Ohio Board of Regents recently asked every university in Ohio to submit a plan to reduce textbook expenses for their students.  The best way to accomplish a meaningful reduction in costs is for instructors to be sensitive to this issue when they select and order textbooks for their courses.  Be aware of the costs of the textbooks you order and keep the total costs as low as you possibly can.  Require students to buy only those books that are fully utilized in the course.  Use the “recommended” category for those books that are only partially used.  Make sure that you put complete textbook citations on your syllabi.  Finally, order your textbooks on time. Currently, only 25% of CSU book orders arrive by the bookstore’s deadline, and 4% are not placed until the first day of classes! Ordering early allows the bookstore to rationally plan supplies and to order used textbooks when possible.  While all faculty can, through research and creative activity, contribute to the fund of knowledge, with a little thought we can also help reduce the funds for knowledge that our students have to pay to buy books for their education.

Best wishes,