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Faculty Sabbaticals Invigorate Scholarship, Teaching

DEC. 23, 2005--Five University of Wisconsin-River Falls faculty members were approved for sabbatical leaves during the 2006-07 school year.

Sabbatical opportunities give faculty members uninterrupted time for projects that will increase their expertise in their fields, make new courses available, revise existing courses and create new scholarship, according to Ginny Coombs, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

"Our students benefit from these results through the courses or independent research that they complete under the guidance of these faculty members," she said.

Kelly Cain, professor of environmental science, will be developing both Chinese and Spanish language versions of the Wildlife Recreation and Nature Tourism Graduate Certificate, an online course and the first of its kind in the United States, during his sabbatical. The Chinese version of program will be developed in partnership with Yunnan University, the Southwest Forest University in Kunming, China, and the Chinese Exploration and Research Society in Shangri-la. The Spanish versions will be in collaboration with the National Agrarian University in Managua, Nicaragua. The Chinese and Spanish language versions of WRNT will provide international internship opportunities for UW-RF students.

Jennifer Brantley, an associate professor of English, will spend a semester sabbatical in fall 2006 producing a monograph of multi-genre and interrelated nonfiction literary essays about Lake Superior and its ties to women. Brantley teaches courses in creative writing, poetry and classes for the women's studies minor, all of which will benefit from her work during the sabbatical.

Ruth Wood, professor of English, plans to use a semester long sabbatical in spring 2007 to improve a rubric used for assessment of student expository writing. She will use an initial rubric developed by UW-RF graduate student Paul Christiansen and revise it to reflect writing teachers' belief in the importance of content, organization, style, mechanics and voice. The result will be a more effective tool for assessing students preparing to be teachers and also for evaluating learning in English department courses.

Marshall Toman, professor of English, will use a full-year sabbatical to continue his work in Czech literature. He will translate selected sections of the second and third volumes of An Overview of Literary History , which deal with the literary history of Czechoslovakia throughout the 20th century. His work during the sabbatical will contribute to a new course for the university requirement in global perspectives.

Bernice Ficek-Swenson, professor of art, will use a spring semester sabbatical to begin work on a series of five photogravure etchings, exploring the relationship between water and stone. She will spend a two-week residency at the Athens School of Fine Arts in Greece as a visiting artist, and travel to Epidaurus and the Palace of Knossos in Crete. The content of her scholarship in Greece will be implemented in the studio courses she teaches at UW-River Falls.

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