Sociology Professor Agger Passes Away

July 23, 2015
Agger

Agger

An award-winning researcher and former Dean of Liberal Arts, Professor Ben Agger (Sociology) passed away July 14.

Agger, who also helmed the Center for Theory, was the author of a number of books on culture, media and the Internet. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1976 and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at York University.

Husband to Professor Beth Anne Shelton (Sociology), Agger served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1994-1998. Agger taught at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, and at the State University of New York in Buffalo where he was the chair of the department of sociology.

Associate Professor Bob Kunovich, chair of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, said Agger showed tremendous commitment to UT Arlington students.

“On top of being a prolific and respected writer, Dr. Agger was usually the first to volunteer to help with special projects,” Kunovich said. “Last spring, for example, the department organized a final exam support station for students on the recommendation of Dr. Beth Anne Shelton. Students could drop by to pick up free Scantron forms, coffee and snacks. We also configured a quiet space for students to study. Dr. Agger and Dr. Shelton were there before 8 a.m. to assist. Ben has been a trusted colleague and a mentor to students and new faculty over many years at UTA. He will be greatly missed.”

Agger often wrote about many of the events and issues in today’s society. In 2008, he and colleague Timothy Luke published a look at gun violence in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. In 2013, he published articles and a book on texting and teenage perspectives on over-sharing in social media. Agger and Shelton often collaborated on published journal articles.

No public memorial is scheduled. Donations may be made to the Ben Agger Memorial Scholarship, 703 Findlay Drive, Arlington, Texas, 76012, to fund an annual tennis scholarship for Lamar High School students.

Read student reaction in an article by The Shorthorn.

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COLA Notes for July 2015

July 13, 2015

News and notes from around the College of Liberal Arts…

ART & ART HISTORY: The City of Arlington website, MyArlingtonTX, featured Darryl Lauster in its American Dream City series. “UTA provides me an incubator to allow my students and I to converse about engaging with the community to create this dynamic creative class that will ultimately become embedded in the City of Arlington,” said Lauster. … Visiting Assistant Professor Stephen Lapthisophon has been named a 2015 Awards to Artists recipient by the Dallas Museum of Art, Glasstire.com reported. Lapthisophon received the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant. … Assistant Professor Ya’Ke Smith‘s short film “One Hitta Quitta” was featured in the Houston Film Commission’s Texas Filmmaker’s Showcase 2015 June 21 in Los Angeles. Smith, the Morgan Woodward Distinguished Professor of Film at UT Arlington, was mentioned in a recent article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. … Assistant Professor Sedrick Huckaby gave a gallery talk May 15 at the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. … WKPT/ABC 19 in Kingsport, Tenn., reported that “Moments and Vision,” a series of photographs by Assistant Professor Tore Terrasi, will be on display this month in downtown Johnson City at East Tennessee State University’s Tipton Gallery. … Filmmaker Sai Selevarajan (’01) was featured in a Lucky Post email in May. … MFA graduate Maryam Rezaei‘s “Air Pollution” poster was accepted for a juried international competition by the Graphic Design Associations ICOGRADA in Slovakia.

CENTER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES: The Center for African American Studies (CAAS) held its annual awards reception May 1 in the E.H. Hereford University Center. UT Arlington Provost Ronald Elsenbaumer was honored as the 2014-2015 CAAS Champion. African American Studies Minor 2014-2015 Graduates were Porsha Gunishaw, Patricia O’Brien, Christopher Woolen and Stephanie Velasquez. Emerging Leaders Initiative 2014-2015 Graduates were Curtis Brown, Kent Justin Brown, Emmanuel Fordjour, Ebony Gray, Patricia O’Brien, Terina Smith and Christopher Woolen. Others recognized include: Brianna Franklin (AAST Minor-School of Social Work Scholarship Recipient); Christopher Woolen and Patricia O’Brien (2014-2015 Outstanding Emerging Leaders); Jasmine Shaw and Kenneth Esenwah (2014-2015 Outstanding Emerging Scholars); Dr. Ifeoma Amah and Dr. David Sparks (2014-2015 Outstanding CAAS Faculty Affiliates); and Devan Allen and Jamie Grant (2014-2015 Outstanding CAAS Community Affiliates). … CAAS hosted “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom” on June 19, including a lecture by Dr. Safisha Hill, an adjunct faculty member and Director of Education for Act of Change Inc.

COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS: The Dallas Business Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg Business and many other media outlets reported that Paul Wong (San Diego State University) has been appointed Dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts. Wong has international experience and brings a fundraising record to match his academic stature. … Many College of Liberal Arts students, faculty and alumni participated in the 20th annual UTA Powwow, sponsored by the Native American Student Association. The all-day event was held June 7. Check out this video from Shorthorn TV. … Four COLA professors contributed to a podcast series hosted by Associate Professor Peggy Semingson (Curriculum and Instruction). The series, “Staying Productive in Academia,” features Stacy Alaimo (English), Rebecca Deen (Political Science), Colleen Fitzgerald (Linguistics & TESOL) and Laurel Stvan (Linguistics & TESOL).

COMMUNICATION: KTVT/CBS 11 interviewed Assistant Professor Mark Tremayne about the consequences that can result from people posting their personal views to social media networks. “Count on it being seen even if you think that it won’t be seen. And count on it lasting for years even if you delete it,” Tremayne said. … Communication Specialist Jeff Williams traveled to Fernandina Beach, Fla., in June to research unconventional drilling. With his research, he intends to make a short documentary that will be submitted to the Journal of Video Ethnography. … Assistant Professor Dustin Harp and Senior Lecturer Kim Pewitt-Jones attended the Poynter Institute Teachapalooza in St. Petersburg, Fla., last month as recipients of tuition scholarships from the Headliners Foundation of Texas. … Harp will present a paper, “Covering Clinton (2010-2015): Meaning-making strategies in news and entertainment magazines,” at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s annual conference Aug. 5-8 in San Francisco, Calif. Tremayne and Assistant Professor Erika Pribanic-Smith will also attend the conference, serving as panelists and attending workshops and discussions. … A paper by Assistant Professor Karishma Chatterjee and graduate students Katherine Bennett and Elise Athens has been accepted for presentation at the 2015 International Conference on Communication in Healthcare in New Orleans in October. … Former journalism instructor George Rhoades has released a new book of poetry, After the Chisholm. … Lonestar 92.5 DJ Jeff Kovarsky (’87), better known by his on-air moniker of Jeff K, spoke to radio production students in broadcast lecturer Lance Liguez’s class earlier this month. … Boston.com and other media outlets noted that Chicago immigration law firm, Katz Law Office, has hired Lucia Lopez (’98), an attorney with more than a decade of legal experience in immigration law, business law, human rights law and litigation. … Raegan Cardwell (’15) is a news producer job at KDRV-TV in Medford, Ore. … Stephanie Hillas (’14) has accepted a new position as content associate at Zomato, a restaurant discovery app and website located in Dallas. … Gordon Butler (’01) has been named the new principal of McKinney High School, the McKinney Courier-Gazette reported. … Advertising major Shabina Aslam recently received a scholarship from the American Advertising Federation Dallas. … Broadcasting major Javier Giribet-Vargas received a $2,000 scholarship from the Texas Association of Broadcasters. … Public relations major Erika Long is interning at Sabre in Southlake, Texas, this summer, an internship made possible through the La Grant Foundation.

CRIMINOLOGY & CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Professor and Department Chair Kent Kerley was quoted in a Dallas Morning News article about the flood of applications pouring into the McKinney Police Department, despite its recent police woes.

DISABILITY STUDIES: Two Disability Studies minors Nichole Sheridan and Joyce Wolff will participate in the inaugural Student Entrepreneurship Fellow program at UT Austin this summer. The duo is working on a plan to utilize 3D printer technology for elderly people with digestive issues. Sheridan and Wolff will spend six weeks learning entrepreneurial strategies and conducting interviews with potential customers; they will also submit a grant application for venture capital for up to $75,000.

ENGLISH: Professor and Department Chair Bruce Krajewski will serve as a panelist at the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America biennial conference in Atlanta. … Office assistant Dyane Fowler passed away June 3. Services were held at a funeral home in Austin.

HISTORY: Associate Professor and Department Chair Marvin Dulaney wrote about the troubled origins of American policing in The Crime Report. Dulaney examined how the impacts of 17th century policing still reverberate in society today. … In an article by the Houston Chronicle, Dulaney commented on the implementation and enforcement of Texas open carry law the legislature recently passed. … Delaney was also quoted in an op-ed in The Dallas Morning News about Confederate monuments in Texas. … Assistant Professor Donald Kyle was quoted in Archaeology magazine, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, about Greek and Roman horse racing in the July/August edition. Kyle’s contribution was part of a larger story on the horse and its unique role in human culture. … Assistant Professor Patryk Babiracki wrote a guest blog on Post-Soviet Ukraine for the University of North Carolina Press blog. Babiracki draws a comparison between Ukraine’s present and Poland’s past – much like Poland after World War II, today, Ukraine is a terrain contested by Russia and the West. Babiracki also recently published a new book, Soviet Soft Power in Poland: Culture and the Making of Stalin’s New Empire, 1943-1957 (North Carolina Press). … Arlington held several Juneteenth events, which included featured speaker Geoffrey Mitchell, a former American history instructor, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. … Assistant Professor Kenyon Zimmer was quoted in a WESA/90.5 Pittsburgh story about the motives behind the anarchist who shot Henry Clay Frick. … The Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow mentioned UT Arlington in his May profile of KXAS/NBC 5 senior meteorologist David Finfrock. Finfrock is a founding member of the Texas Map Society and serves as editor of the society’s newsletter. The map society works closely with the extensive cartography collection at The University of Texas at Arlington, where Finfrock said his own collection of maps will probably end up. … Jeremy Spracklen (MA, ’15; BA in History and Philosophy, ’03) was interviewed for KERA/90.1 FM’s The Big Screen segment. Spracklen discussed some of what he learned from his thesis on the history of movie exhibition in North Texas. … The Burleson-Crowley Connection interviewed Anne Bailey (’82) about her passion for local history, which has led her to write a handful of books on the topic.

LINGUISTICS & TESOL: Master’s candidate Kimberly Johnson and doctoral student Ji Yea Kim attended the Linguistic Society of America Institute this summer, held at the University of Chicago, with support from the Department of Linguistics & TESOL as well as grants from the Jerold A. Edmondson Research Endowment in Linguistics. … Representatives from a variety of Native American tribes have converged on Washington, D.C., archives to breathe new life into their languages, to transform language preserved into language lived and language living, wrote Professor Colleen Fitzgerald in the Huffington Post. Fitzgerald is the director of the Native American Languages Lab. … Fitzgerald and a group of UTA students took part in a Chickasaw Narrative Workshop, collecting stories with the Chickasaw Nation elders on June 24-25 in Ada, Okla. … Assistant Professor Suwon Yoon has published an article, “Semantic constraint and pragmatic nonconformity for expressives: compatibility condition on slurs, epithets, anti-honorifics, intensifiers, and mitigators,” in a special issue of Language Sciences on the topic of on slurs. … Yoon and Arum Kang, a grad student at the University of Chicago, will present a talk, “Two types of speaker’s ignorance over the epistemic space,” at the joint meeting of the 19th International Circle of Korean Linguistics and the 16th Harvard-International Symposium on Korean Linguistics, July 24-26, at the University of Chicago. … Indian Country Today Media Network mentioned an Indigenous Language Video Contest sponsored by the Native American Language Lab in its story about online challenges to save indigenous languages in the Americas. … Three candidates for director of the English Language Institute will be on campus this week, making presentations and answering questions from students and faculty: Andrea Patterson (Wednesday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m.), Khalid Ibrahim (Thursday, July 16 at 9:30 a.m.) and Josie Sambolin (Friday, July 17 at 11:30 a.m. All meetings will take place in Trimble Hall, Room 200. … Vitaly Voinov (PhD Linguistics, ’13) co-edited a new publication, Language Vitality Through Bible Translation. The book includes an introduction from Voinov as well as a chapter from Jill Riepe (PhD Linguistics,’09) on language revitalization through education and Bible translation among the Ap Ma of Papua New Guinea. … Yvonne Schnitzius (MA Linguistics & MA TESOL, ’07) is now Lead Foreign Language Teacher at Colleyville Covenant Christian Academy where she will be conducting year-long teacher training workshops for all foreign language teachers in grades 1-12 at the school, in the development of curriculum that implements the Integrated Performance Assessment, developed by ACTFL. … Henry Lopez (BA, ’14) recently took a job at Refugee Services of Texas in Fort Worth.

MODERN LANGUAGE: Assistant Professor Sonja Watson’s article, “La identidad Afro-Panamena en la literatura desde el siglo XX hasta el nuevo milenio” (Afro-Panamanian Identity in Literature from the 20th Century to the New Millennium),” was recently published in LiminaR: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos. … Assistant Professor Amy Austin presented “Translatio Studii in the Worlds of Ramon Llull” at an international conference sponsored by the North American Catalan Society in Barcelona, Spain, last month. … Jorge Acosta (’98), a 17-year employee of Irving ISD, has been named principal of Gilbert Elementary School, The Dallas Morning News reported. Acosta holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy Studies.

MUSIC: KXAS/NBC 5 interviewed several students from the UTA A Cappella Choir about what it was like singing with the Rolling Stones when the legendary rock band took the stage at AT&T Stadium last month. KRLD/1080 AM (CBS) ran a clip of the actual performance in which lead singer Mick Jagger gave thanks to the choir. … KGMB CBS 5 in Hawaii reported that The University of Texas at Arlington Jazz Orchestra would be playing with the ‘Iolani Stage Band in a free concert on June 27. Hawaii Public Radio interviewed Associate Professor Tim Ishii, director of jazz studies, about the role jazz plays on the national and world stage. … Joshua Lang (’14), organist and choirmaster of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Mansfield, gave a free organ recital last month, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

POLITICAL SCIENCE: A Fort Worth Star-Telegram column on the use of high-profile issues as fundraising tactics quoted Associate Professor and Department Chair Rebecca Deen as saying politicians have become particularly adept at using hot-button issues as rallying cries. … The Foundation for Middle East Peace blog published in May an extensive question-and-answer article with Associate Professor Brent Sasley on Israel, Iran and the U.S.-Israel relationship. “It’s clear that the U.S. and Israel have increasingly divergent perceptions about international politics and put emphasis on different priorities,” Sasley said. Sasely also wrote about the Israeli relationship with Cyprus. … Foreign Affairs published a commentary by Sasley about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government lasting longer than most had assumed. … KFBK/1530 AM in Sacramento, Calif., talked to Associate Professor Allan Saxe about U.S. efforts to improve and speed up the program to train and equip Iraqi forces. … In a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about Texas Monthly‘s biennial list of best and worst state legislators, Saxe said the rankings are sometimes used by challengers in elections: “At best, the Texas Monthly list of best and worst is great reading for the political literati.” … Last week, KLIF/570 AM interviewed Saxe about a new national poll that puts Donald Trump in the lead heading into the GOP presidential primaries. Saxe said Trump has also struck “that chord of dissent” where people don’t like any of the other presidential hopefuls.

PRE-LAW CENTER: Pre-Law Center director Amber White was quote in an article by The Shorthorn about post-college opportunities for UT Arlington students.

SOCIOLOGY & ANTHROPOLOGY: Associate Professor Jason Shelton (Sociology) appeared last month on the KERA 90.1 FM noon show Think with Kris Boyd to discuss what it means to identify as a particular race in the wake of Rachel Dolezal stepping down as head of the Spokane NAACP. Shelton says Dolezal is emblematic of a move toward “extreme individualism,” where one gets to pick and choose who they want to be. … A new article by Professors Ben Agger (Sociology) and Beth Anne Shelton (Sociology) has been accepted for publication. “Time, Motion, Discipline: The Authoritarian Syllabus on American College Campuses” will appear in the journal Critical Sociology later this year. … Sociology graduate student Christina Carney was quoted in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about neighbors volunteering to revive and maintain the Fairmount Library. … Joshua Olsberg (MA-Sociology, ’06) has accepted a tenure-track position at National University in San Diego, Calif.

THEATRE ARTS: Assistant Professor Daniel Archibald was featured in a BroadwayWorld.com article on innovative technology at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology’s 2015 Tech Expo. Archibald and the UT Arlington design team employed a “vaping” system like those in electronic cigarettes to make a smoking, light-up witch’s staff for their production of “Into the Woods”. … Professor Andrew Christopher Gaupp will direct “Bass Fishin’” by Grayson Harper for SceneShop’s 20th anniversary program. The show will be performed at Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth on Aug. 1, 7 and 8, and stars UTA grads Dale Shelton and Joshua Eguia. … In June Gaupp was invited to serve on the Board of Electors for the Actors Hall of Fame Foundation. Gaupp has also been invited to assistant direct the winning play of the 2015 Association for Theatre in Higher Education New Play Contest at the annual ATHE conference being held this summer in Montreal, Quebec. He has also recently been invited to direct the winning play of the 2016 ATHE New Play Contest in Chicago during the summer of 2016. … Senior Lecturer Seraphina Nova was an invited professional to Trinity Valley School (Fort Worth) Young Writer’s Conference for high school students. … Associate Professor Joe Chapa is directing “Almost Maine” at Onstage Bedford through July. UTA student Alexandrian Fazzari and Maverick Theatre Company alumni Samantha Fields and Travis Fant are in the cast. … Scenic Designer Michelle Harvey created the set design for “Curtains, the Musical” at Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas. Opening July 24. Harvey also designed “Turtle-ly ‘80s” for the Turtle Creek Chorale in June. … Assistant Professor Anne Healy presented her paper, “An Unlikely Star: Bert Williams,” at the Song Stage & Screen X Conference in June at Regent’s University in London. Healy is working with the award-winning regional theatre Goodspeed Musicals: Musical Theatre Institute in Connecticut this summer, assisting and observing three-time Tony Award winning Director/Choreographer Kathleen Marshall. … Senior Lecturer Felecia Bertch will star as Helena in the Wheaton (Ill.) Shakespeare in the Park’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in August. … Senior Lecturer Julienne Greer is the primary investigator and co-PI on two proposals for UTA’s Office of the President’s Interdisciplinary Research Program. Both proposals address the interaction and interdisciplinary nature of theatre arts and robotics. … Theatre Arts junior Marcos Villegas was cast in two shows, “Les Miserables” and “American Idiot,” for Oh Look Performing Arts Center this summer. … Theatre Arts sophomore Jesse Scott has been hired to complete three lighting designs for Theatre Arlington productions “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” “Becky’s New Car” and the recently finished “Urinetown.” … Former student Afton Danielle is the new Theatre Director at Jubilee Theatre in Waco. … Robert Bell (’13) was cast in “Twelfth Night” at the Portland (Ore.) Shakespeare Project. Performances are July 10-Aug. 2 at the Artist Repertory Theatre. … Nicole Weber (’08) was cast in the production, “The Spitfire Grill,” at MYART Studio in late May. … Theatre arts major Haley Boswell, was cast as Meg in “Little Women” at the Plaza Theatre Company. The production will run July 2-Aug. 1. … Travis Fant is a member of Keith and Margo’s Murder Mystery Texas this summer. … Theatre Arts senior Gatlin Douglas was voted this year’s winner of the Rose Brand/USITT Action Design Competition at the Cincinnati 2015 Conference & Expo. … Jamie Pringle (’94) is the new theatre teacher at Carroll Senior High in Southlake, Texas. … Theatre Arts graduate Josh Jacobs was accepted into the masters of fine arts program at the University of Houston for Technical Direction. … Kevin Duran was cast as the Big Bad Wolf in Graham Regional’s “Shrek the Musical” in late May. … John Fionnlagh Rutherform performed in “The Little Foxes” at Richardson Theatre all through May. … Former student Andy Reynolds and his Waxahachie High School theatre students placed in the top three at the 5A UIL state One Act Play competition. … Trae Adair (’12) opened in “Urinetown” in Los Angeles, California in late May. … Theatre Arts major George Meek has accepted a summer carpentry position with the Pacific Conservatory Theatre. Theatre Arts major Hailey Eakle will also work there in the costume department. Austin Brown is completing a season-long apprenticeship with the group as an assistant lighting director. … Two Theatre Arts students will travel and work at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival this summer. Jailene Torres will work as a stitcher and Jorge Lanuza will be a master carpenter. … Student Tiffany Cromwell will be working as the assistant stage manager this summer with Uptown Players. … Theatre Arts major Gatlin Douglas was elected to the USITT Southwest regional board of directors as a student-at-large member. He will be headed to the Santa Fe Opera this summer to work as a stage crew apprentice. … Freshman Vanessa Chavez, a UTA Dance Ensemble company member, won first place April 1 in Mavs Got Talent. … Taylor Adams has accepted a run crew position at PCPA (Pacific Coast Rep). … G. Dean McBride was accepted into the MFA program in arts administration at Texas Tech University.

WOMEN’S STUDIES: On Saturday, July 25, the Women’s and Gender Studies program will host an all day STEM workshop for 50 high school girls. The workshop will feature the keynote speaker, Janeen Uzzell (Director of Operations – External Affairs and Technology, Global Research Center at General Electric) and a 90-minute workshop on civil engineering led by Women in Transportation.

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(Compiled by James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

Jazz Professor Pushes Music, Technology

July 10, 2015
Associate Professor Dan Cavanagh (Music) plans to modify a pair of gloves with sensors to enhance musical sounds. (Photo credit: MiMu)

Associate Professor Dan Cavanagh (Music) plans to modify a pair of gloves with sensors to enhance musical sounds. (Photo credit: MiMu)

Pushing the limits of music and technology is a new focus for one UT Arlington music professor.

Associate Professor Dan Cavanagh (Music), a jazz pianist, was recently awarded a Research Enhancement Program (REP) grant from UTA to construct a pair of gloves with embedded electronic sensors – sensors designed to enhance and manipulate sounds of an instrument.

Cavanagh is hoping to build on open source technology to create software and hardware capable of creating a new dynamic for established musical genres.

“The equipment and software I’m looking at has been used in pop music for years, especially avant-garde pop music,” he said. “It hasn’t been done a lot in art music. Jazz is such an improvisation thing. I’m curious to see how it can be combined live with that genre.”

Professor and Department Chair Rick Bogard said his colleagues are eager to see Cavanagh’s results.

“I’m very excited about Dan Cavanagh’s new branch of research with the electronic gloves,” Bogard said. “This is an area of technology which is new to the field of music, and I’m very happy that we can be on the cutting edge of this research. I know that Dan’s energy and forward-thinking ideas will vitalize this growing area of our department, and will bring positive things to the us and the University.”

Cavanagh

Cavanagh

Cavanagh intends to include bend and rotation sensors in the gloves that will allow him to create different combinations of moves (and ultimately, sounds) as he plays piano. These moves could drastically alter what his audience hears and enable him to create a more fluid manipulation of notes than today’s electronic keyboards.

“I was exploring the history of synthesizers,” Cavanagh said about his project’s genesis, “and there hasn’t been a natural way to control sound. It’s all been very artificial with buttons or diving down to a menu.”

Newly appointed as Director of Music Industry Studies, which includes the Music Media and Music Business areas within the Music Department, Cavanagh hopes to have a working prototype by December and intends to debut his creation in a Spring 2016 recital. He will utilize hardware and software components available online, but his prototype will extend original designs currently available.

“I think I’ll be able to find all the components I need online, then modify those existing plans or parts to do what I need them to do,” he said.

Additionally, Cavanagh sees application for his project in aiding budding conductors in a symphony or musicians eager to move beyond their repertoire of standards.

“Electronically manipulating sounds is a way to treat those timbres as a new instrument,” he said. “It’s much like playing a Steinway in Irons Recital Hall; I’m manipulating those strings and timbres. This is a different way for me to engage in music.”

Associate Dean Elisabeth Cawthon said Cavanagh’s approach to his research sets him apart.

“Professor Cavanagh’s work fuses technology, classical music and jazz improvisation,” she said. “This project demonstrates how a classical composer can engage the public — in this case, through performance of Professor Cavanagh’s creative works. ”

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(Story by James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

About the College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts at UT Arlington serves more than 4,000 students enrolled in 26 undergraduate and 21 graduate programs. National accreditation includes the Department of Art & Art History through the National Association of Schools of Art & Design and the Department of Music through the National Association of Schools of Music. The College of Liberal Arts employs more than 300 faculty across 12 departments; faculty awards for research and creative activity include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pulitzer Prize nominations, a winner of La Cruz Andina de Oro [Andean Golden Cross] from the Bolivian Government, and multiple awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About UT Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

 

Q&A: New CRCJ Chair Focuses on Research

July 2, 2015

crcj_kerley_500px

After a year of searching, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice recently installed a new chair, Professor Kent Kerley. Kerley, an active scholar from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, sat down with College of Liberal Arts Communications Coordinator James Dunning to talk about his plans to raise the research profile of the department’s students and faculty.

Q: You’ve been a strong advocate of undergraduate student research at your previous institutions, UAB and Mississippi State University. What does UT Arlington offer in that area?

A: UTA offers the opportunity to take some of the things I learned at UAB and to apply them in a much larger setting. UTA has twice the number of criminal justice undergraduate students as UAB, and four times as many graduate students. We have many talented faculty members and a good infrastructure here for research excellence, but in the recent past the faculty members did not have adequate research mentoring. I bring the experience of working with faculty, students, and members of criminal justice agencies to publish in top journals (e.g., Aggression and Violent Behavior, Justice Quarterly, Social Forces, Social Problems) and to secure competitive funding from top federal agencies and corporations (e.g., National Science Foundation, Google). We also have a really solid student base and I think we can move quickly to a more research-oriented environment. UTA is a “high” research activity school, but our goal is to get to “very high.” I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity to serve.

Q: What has been your research path since completing your doctoral work at The University of Tennessee in 2001?

A: I started initially with policing issues and then gravitated towards corrections. Since 1999, I have done prison-based research, in particular studying faith-based prison programs and examining the impact and lived experience of various correctional treatment programs. Religion in prison is nothing new: the earliest prisons in the U.S. were designed by Quakers, and the model was solitary confinement, Bible study, and interaction with chaplains. That evolved over the years and then we hit a “silent period” in the 1960s and 1970s. Most prisons had chaplains, but there was little breadth or depth in programs. By the 1990s, we started to see greater interest in and expansion of faith-based programs. I was intrigued by this and wanted to find out which programs were working with inmates and how they perceived faith in the prison context. Most prisoners will tell you that they are changing for the good, but how are they changing? It is interesting to examine how prisoners live out faith, both privately and publicly.

Q: You’ve done several studies on this topic over the past decade. What is something the general public might not know?

A: I’ve had the opportunity to conduct research among male and female prison populations. One of my most surprising results is that, in general, men prefer to engage in the public practice of religion. They preferred to be in groups together, such as meetings with chaplains or local volunteers, large weekly services, and Bible studies with fellow inmates. The women, on the other hand, typically engaged in private practice and preferred to be by themselves or in very small groups with close friends. This challenges the stereotype that women are more social than men, especially in prison. Many of the women inmates said that the larger services had too many distractions and people who were not serious about their faith. The men, in our surveys and in-depth interviews, revealed how they were almost afraid of being alone and strongly desired group interaction to help them cope with being incarcerated.

Q: What do you think some of the challenges might be in your new role as chair?

A: I think our starting point is a greater focus on undergraduate research. We need to develop and retool some of our classes to introduce our students to the research process much sooner. That is our short-term goal. The long-term goal is to raise the research profile of the department. I want our students to be introduced right away to scholarly research articles, many written by our faculty, and to see firsthand how knowledge is created. When students come in and learn about research methods, such as how to pick topics and the people to be studied, and then read scholarly works they can connect the end result with the work needed to create it. Once they make that connection, they may have a greater interest in research. Not all of our students will go on to graduate school, but we will teach them the importance of data-driven analysis, thinking instead of feeling, problem solving, and technical writing. Almost all of our students will have jobs where those are necessary and valued skills. We want to train people to move into management-level positions in the criminal justice system and elsewhere. Inspiring our students to have a passion for research is the key.

Q: For the past several years, you’ve utilized undergraduate research through a summer program you created at UAB with more than $700,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Do you foresee doing something similar here at UTA?

A: Yes, it is something we want to do right away. Ultimately what happens is, if we have a greater emphasis on research in our classes, we start to interest students a bit more in research, and they are less intimidated by the research process. We then start to see students improving in classes like methods and statistics and we begin involving them in our research. They get a taste of research, which may encourage them to get involved in our new student organization (Society for Criminal Justice Students) and the department’s honor society (Alpha Phi Sigma). Then hopefully we have increased the likelihood that they will continue on here at UTA for graduate school.

This new emphasis on research benefits our faculty members as well. They will be encouraged to work more closely with students, to submit more articles and grant proposals with them, and to be part of a more collaborative environment. When I came on board, it did not seem that our faculty members received much encouragement to work with scholars in other departments and universities. My entire career has been built on interdisciplinary collaboration. I have worked with chemists, biologists, computer scientists, and scholars from nearly all of the social sciences. My hope is that here we can build an interdisciplinary research consortium.

Q: Law enforcement and court decisions top the nightly news. How can the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice respond to that?

A: We can offer a much more sophisticated understanding of criminal justice system, including police-community relations, the court systems, and the prison systems. Media members tend to focus on the most egregious or violent incidents, but those are not typical. The things that get the most attention are the things that happen the least. We want to create an environment where our students will be knowledgeable in how the system works.

Q: Apart from focusing on undergraduate research, what else do you hope to accomplish during your time as chair?

A: We have a great team here of faculty, staff, and students, and it is time to expand and to move up. We will be recruiting soon for more tenured and tenure-track faculty members. This is our time to build a strong and vibrant research-intensive environment. This is our time.

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Sociology, CMAS Professor Passes Away

July 1, 2015
Baker

Baker

Susan G. Baker, associate professor of sociology and former director of the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), has passed away. Officials in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology were notified this week.

Baker joined UT Arlington in 2005 as Director of CMAS, remaining in the position until 2013. During her tenure, she created the Distinguished Lecture Series, which became the Center’s annual signature event. Baker earned her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, her master’s degree at the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology at Trinity University.

“Dr. Baker was an outstanding scholar and passionate about the study of issues affecting Latinas in the U.S.,” said Associate Professor Christian Zlolniski (Anthropology), the current CMAS director. “During her tenure as director of CMAS, she was committed to her students, including several graduate students with whom she worked closely for years. She was also a very warm, loving, and kind-hearted person. Susan will be missed by her colleagues, students and staff at CMAS.”

Prior to working at UT Arlington, Baker had research and faculty positions at the Urban Institute, the University of Arizona and the University of Texas at Austin.

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READ MORE: Former students react in an article from The Shorthorn.

SEED 2015 Students Create New Game

June 29, 2015

ICPF Partnership Benefits Visual Comm Students

June 19, 2015

The ongoing partnership between the Department of Art & Art History and the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF) continues to benefit UT Arlington students.

In 2014, an ICPF grant led to creating the department’s Corrugated Prototype Design and CAD Production Lab and a student team won the Careers in Corrugated Packaging & Display Interactive Teleconference national competition. This summer, MFA candidate Shaban Al-Refai was named the first ICPF summer intern for UT Arlington.

Robert Hower, professor and department chair, said the relationship with ICPF has made a direct impact on the learning and future careers of students in the Visual Communication program.

“In the first year of the relationship, our students received first prize in a North American competition,” said Hower. “We have also placed numerous students in national internships and immediate employment opportunities upon graduation. We intend to expand our packaging offerings for incoming students and continue to produce highly qualified graduates to fulfill the needs of industry.”

Al-Refai’s internship is funded through ICPF’s corporate partnerships. Recently, Smurfit Kappa, Europe’s leading corrugated packaging company, pledged $150,000 to ICPF, and began working with the UTA intern at its Texas operations facility.

“The internship is a unique opportunity for Shaban to expand his knowledge of the packaging industry at the international level,” Hower said. “Clearly, this assists in broadening his career options internationally.”

To learn more about the program and the CorrPro lab, visit the department’s website.

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COMM Scholar Explores Knowledge Hoarding

June 16, 2015
Su

Su

In an age when open source platforms and over-sharing on social media is the norm, “knowledge hoarding” might seem anomalous. But Associate Professor Chunke Su (Communication) will spend the next three years with a $360,000 grant from the U.S. Army exploring the darker side of knowledge sharing.

“What triggered my research was a recent newspaper poll that said 76 percent of the 1,700 readers surveyed admitted to withholding knowledge from their co-workers,” said Su. “I found this interesting given how much we stress sharing knowledge and collaboration in today’s society.”

Utilizing transactive memory systems theory and social network analysis techniques, Su’s project will explore when and why employees hoard work-related knowledge from their co-workers in a variety of organizational work teams. Also, the research will “evaluate the outcomes of knowledge hoarding by studying the potential beneficial or harmful effects of knowledge hoarding on the performance of the work teams,” Su said.

READ MORE at uta.edu.

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New Book Examines Farm Life in Mexico

June 15, 2015
Zlolniski

Dr. Christian Zlolniski, Associate Professor of Anthropology

A new book co-written by a UT Arlington anthropologist examines U.S. consumer demand for fresh produce year-round and the impact of a robust agro-export business on workers in Mexico.

Associate Professor Christian Zlolniski (Anthropology), with scholars from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Tiajuana, Mexico, recently published De Jornaleros a Colonos: Residencia, Trabajo e Identidad en el Valle de San Quintin, or “From Migrant Farmworkers to Settlers: Residency, Work and Identity in the San Quintin Valley.” The Spanish-language monograph examines the living conditions of farmworkers in Valle de San Quintin, Baja California, an agricultural community located 90 miles south of San Diego, Calif.

Zlolniski, who collaborated with sociologist Laura Velasco and demographer Marie-Laure Coubés, said the book sheds light on how transnational agribusiness in Mexico are growing crops to meet demand in the U.S.

“This is a book about how the food that we consume in the U.S., especially fresh fruits and vegetables, affects the farm works growing those crops south of the border,” he said. “It is a study of the development of a region in northern Mexico and how the demands we have here in the U.S. shape the working conditions and the lives of the workers growing those fresh crops.”

Workers in the region earn an average of $10 per day and lack basic employee benefits like vacation days, overtime pay and healthcare. In March, 75,000 farmworkers joined a labor strike to call attention to the issues. Zlolniski said fewer labor and environmental regulations in Mexico enticed U.S. business to move production south of the border once the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified in the 1990s. That move — coupled with agricultural innovations that allow common crops to be grown all year long — has had a lasting impact.

“Policymakers need to understand the intended and unintended consequences of conditions that arise for people who grow crops for export and not for themselves,” Zlolniski said. “It’s important to document that. This is the price for us to have access to these fresh crops all year-long.”

De Jornaleros a Colonos also examines the growth of a region of Mexico that has had rapid expansion as a direct result of the burgeoning agriculture industry. Many of the workers living in the area migrated from southern Mexico over the past three decades and, in Zlolniski’s view, have colonized the area.

“Despite the harsh life and low paying jobs, I was surprised by the energy and commitment of these farmworkers to adopt this new region as their home,” he said. “There was very little there before they moved in. So they are not only growing the foods we eat, but they’re building the place where they live from scratch.”

Zlolniski, who is also the director of the Center for Mexican American Studies, is working on an ethnographic study of the agricultural workers in the Baja California region and hopes to have a manuscript completed by next year. He and his colleagues also have published articles based on the research in De Jornaleros a Colonos in English- and Spanish-language academic journals.

“This book continues Dr. Zlolniski’s important research on those who are marginalized in the global economy,” said Associate Professor Robert Kunovich, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “This book sheds light on their plight and will encourage people to think about workers and communities around the world that have been placed in a similar situation.”

Zlolniski hopes his work will motivate students, scholars, government officials and the general public to reflect upon an issue that holds economic, social and humanitarian ramifications.

“Where previous discussions have been about where the merchandise and clothes we buy has been produced, now the discussion has moved to food,” he said. “What we provide in the book is the basis for understanding the conditions and why events like the labor strike took place. It is important for us on this side of the border to understand how the foods we expect are grown.”

Learn more about De Jornaleros a Colonos: Residencia, Trabajo e Identidad en el Valle de San Quintin at the COLEF website. Research for the monograph was supported by a grant from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

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(Story by James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

 

About the College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts at UT Arlington serves more than 4,000 students enrolled in 26 undergraduate and 21 graduate programs. National accreditation includes the Department of Art & Art History through the National Association of Schools of Art & Design and the Department of Music through the National Association of Schools of Music. The College of Liberal Arts employs more than 300 faculty across 12 departments; faculty awards for research and creative activity include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pulitzer Prize nominations, a winner of La Cruz Andina de Oro [Andean Golden Cross] from the Bolivian Government, and multiple awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About UT Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

 

History Researcher Combs Cuba for Records

June 11, 2015
The Endangered Archives Programme endeavors to digitize deteriorating documents within communities across the globe. Assistant Professor David LaFevor is part of a team funded by the British Library to work in Latin and South America. View pictures of a recent trip and worship in São João do Carirí, Brazil. (Photo by David LaFevor)

The Endangered Archives Programme endeavors to digitize deteriorating documents within communities across the globe. Assistant Professor David LaFevor is part of a team funded by the British Library to work in Latin and South America. View pictures of a recent trip and workshop in São João do Carirí, Brazil. (Photo by David LaFevor)

A UT Arlington history researcher will spend part of his summer in Cuba, rummaging through dusty church vaults in search of records for millions of Africans forced into the Caribbean region more than 400 years ago.

Assistant Professor David LaFevor (History) is spending three weeks in Cuba and the surrounding area as part of a grant (up to 10,000 pounds or $15,500) from the British Library. He will identify, digitize and catalog documents as part of the Endangered Archives Programme, a project that includes graduate students and professors from universities across the globe.

“We know there are documents [in Cuba] kept by the Roman Catholic Church until 1898 — certificates of births, deaths and marriages and other important records for the roughly one million Africans imported into Cuba through the 16th and 19th centuries,” said LaFevor. “The ultimate purpose is to be able to trace not only the raw data and numbers of the slave trade, but also where different ethnicities of Africans ended up and how African cultures molded the evolution of Cuban identity over time.”

LaFevor said the first part of the project will include establishing relationships with local volunteers, educators and clergy as he visits churches in Trinidad, Bayamo, Santiago and Baracoa, creating inventories. While the Cuban government has done a “relatively good job” at keeping and preserving records of residents, he said, the Catholic Church records have been “largely untouched” and he is unsure of what he might find.

“It’s historically relevant because even the Cubans themselves have no idea how many pages of records still exist,” he said. “It could be millions or only a few hundreds.”

LaFevor has had experience in digitizing archival records. In 2005, as a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, he worked with historian Jane Landers on a similar project in Recife, Brazil, Cartagena, Colombia, and Quibdo, Colombia, one of the poorest Afro-Colombian communities. LaFevor said the region’s humidity and weather was challenging – moisture tends to irrevocably damage paper records over time – but the research experience fueled his passion and ability work in the field.

“When the department hired Dr. LaFevor in 2013 as a Latin American historian who could work on digital humanities projects such as this one, we hoped that he would expand our research and scholarship to this new and exciting field,” said Associate Professor W. Marvin Dulaney, chair of the Department of History. “He has more than lived up to our expectations and he has brought the department national as well as local recognition in his field of expertise.”

In Santiago, LaFevor will be joined by his brother Matt, a historical geographer at the University of Maryland. In late summer, he will join a team of researchers at Paraiba, Brazil, to photograph documents there as part of another British Library grant.

LaFevor said he is hopeful the success of his project in Santiago will lead to a 100,000-pound grant next year to expand his research into other Cuba communities like Bayamo and Havana. While there is always the chance these vaults may be empty or include unusable documents, LaFevor said it’s important to scour the archives and uncover the larger story of the slave population.

“Many of these areas have been hit with natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes over the past 40 years, so at some sites we may just hit a blank,” he said. “But if anything does exist that can tell a story of the millions of people imported over four centuries, then this is worth it.”

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(Story by James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

About the College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts at UT Arlington serves more than 4,000 students enrolled in 26 undergraduate and 21 graduate programs. National accreditation includes the Department of Art & Art History through the National Association of Schools of Art & Design and the Department of Music through the National Association of Schools of Music. The College of Liberal Arts employs more than 300 faculty across 12 departments; faculty awards for research and creative activity include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pulitzer Prize nominations, a winner of La Cruz Andina de Oro [Andean Golden Cross] from the Bolivian Government, and multiple awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About UT Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.


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