University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Dec. 19, 2003


Five UW-River Falls Faculty Awarded Sabbaticals
By Jessica Campbell
UW-RF News Bureau

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls approved five Sabbatical Programs for the 2004-2005 academic year. From research entrepreneurial small business owners in St. Croix County to studying health and human performance theories, the breadth and depth of study soon to be conducted by UW-River Falls faculty members is extensive.

Sabbaticals allow faculty to be released from teaching responsibilities and engage in professional activities away from campus.

"They can focus all of their attention on areas of professional interest and get re-energized. This is not possible when teaching full time," says Professor Nanette Jordahl, director of UW-RF faculty and student academic support programs.

Provost and Vice Chancellor Ginny Coombs adds, "Sabbaticals are vital to faculty members to stay on top of their subject, to develop new research projects, and to improve their teaching."

She noted that students gain as returning faculty incorporate the product of their sabbaticals into their classroom activities.

"They bring new energy and ideas to the classroom, and students profit from more comprehensive and insightful classes" Coombs said. She noted the University may also receive recognition if a faculty members' research becomes publictized or well-known.

One professor whose sabbatical will specifically focus on creating fresh and innovative courses and advancing existing courses is Professor Margaret Swanson from the department of speech, communication, and theatre arts.

Swanson will focus on acquiring and practicing the philosophy, techniques and strategies employed by The Theatre of the Oppressed Practitioners, specifically Midwestern practitioners. Her leave will take place in the spring semester as she works at the Center for Applied Theatre in Milwaukee.

Collaborating with two universities in Mexico is Professor Anthony Jilek from the animal and food science department. Jilek will assist in the development of curricular reform in the animal science programs at the University of Guadalajara and the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. His leave will take place both semesters and will include work with a rural development institute in the state of Jalisco. He and the Cattlemen's Association will assist faculty and staff to work with producers for the genetic and environmental improvement of livestock.

The economics department will be represented by two professors. Professor John Walker will leave during the fall semester to study employment survey data in analyzing self-employed women and men in St. Croix County, Wis. His focus will be on the factors that influence the earnings and occupational differences between self-employed women and men. His research is essential to the welfare of the community. It will serve policy makers in promoting economic development in this region by identifying barriers women and men face in St. Croix County in operating their businesses.

Associate Professor Pascal Ngoboka will leave in the spring semester on a sabbatical with Dr. Alex Ijjo, Dean of the School of Business Administration and Management, at Uganda Martyrs University, in Kampala. His project is a comprehensive study of the taxation, tax structure changes, and policy implications for economic development in Uganda. Ngoboka's research is significant because the issue of taxation is crucial for development of the African economy, and little comparable research has been done in recent years. His work will also contribute to courses taught at UW-RF.

Professor Karla Zhe from the health and human performance department will focus her sabbatical project on strengthening her understanding of the theory and practice of the Authentic Pilates method of conditioning. Her study will enhance the curriculum of movement courses offered by her department. Physical education, dance, and general education classes will gain from her advanced training in the Authentic Pilates teaching certification program. Zhe will complete this program during the spring semester at The Pilates and Physical Therapy Center, in Seattle, Wash.

The primary purpose of the faculty sabbatical program is to enable recipients to engage in intensive study to become more effective teachers and scholars and to enhance their service to the University. The program also recognizes the recipients' past and continuing academic contributions in keeping UW-RF's mission.

Any tenured faculty member can apply. The highly competitive process grants only five or six sabbaticals per year.

Candidates are evaluated on the quality of their proposal and on their academic contributions to the University. This includes activities recognized in decisions of promotion and tenure, quality of teaching, scholarly activity, and service to the University and the wider community. Proposals are then evaluated on merit of the specifics of the sabbatical and meeting of the proposal requirements.

Faculty members' teaching responsibilities are assumed by their department colleagues, or through instructors who are compensated with salary savings by those on sabbatical.

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