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Three UW-RF Faculty Awarded Sabbaticals

By Christine Duellman
UW-RF News Bureau

DEC. 17, 2004--Three UW-River Falls faculty members--Betty Bergland, Ian Williams and Randy Johnston--have been approved for sabbatical leaves for the 2005-06 academic year.

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 with UW-RF's mission of teaching, research and service.

"Sabbaticals enable UW-River Falls to maintain quality by renewing the vibrancy of the teaching and scholarship of faculty members," said UW-RF Provost Ginny Coombs.

To receive approval for sabbatical, proposals from tenured faculty are evaluated on their merit. The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents decides which recommended sabbaticals to approve each December.

The following faculty members will take a leave of absence for three consecutive semesters, beginning the second semester of the 2005-06 academic year.

Betty Bergland, a professor of history and philosophy, plans to complete a book proposal and finish a manuscript that brings together research examining the relationships between indigenous peoples and Norwegian immigrants in the Midwest. Included in the sabbatical period are planned research trips to northern Iowa to examine county archives on Norwegian settlements and a trip to the National Archives in Washington D.C.

Bergland says this project relates well to her teaching assignments that focus on women's, immigrant, ethnic and U.S. history. It also can make a significant contribution to the UW-RF diversity initiative, she said

Geology Professor Ian Williams will use a sabbatical to write and illustrate a graphic text concerning the formation and erosion of a mountain chain. He will present his findings by using a comic book style approach. "I would like to unify this subject and present it in a way that students will find interesting," Williams said.

At the end of Williams's sabbatical, he hopes to have a publishable product in the form of a short graphic textbook that can be sold at the UW-RF Bookstore. Students will use this book in the introductory geology course at UW-RF.

Art Professor Randy Johnston plans to conduct research in Australia and Japan to study cultural perspectives of wood-firing in ceramic kilns. Specifically, Johntson will study how this ancient technology has re-emerged in the mid- to late-20th century and spread from Japan to the United States and Australia. He will explore some of the important issues surrounding wood-fired ceramics such as the current role and purpose.

"I believe a better understanding of the cultural roots and its relationship to contemporary expression will directly contribute to enriching courses that I teach at the University," Johnston said. Johnston has been a mentor to several undergraduate art students in this medium. The UW-RF ceramics program has gained regional, national, and international recognition.

During the 2002-03 academic year, chemistry Professor Michael Kahlow took a sabbatical leave to study the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase at the University of Minnesota. He said his sabbatical greatly benefited his teaching abilities. "To actually work for a year in my area of expertise has really allowed me to bring my education up to date in a field that's rapidly advancing," said Kahlow. "We need to be able to teach students what's current, and sabbaticals allow us to do that."

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:18 Central Daylight Time

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