KU News: KU area studies centers win $8 million in Title VI funding

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KU area studies centers win $8 million in Title VI funding
LAWRENCE — Four international area studies centers at the University of Kansas — the Kansas African Studies Center, Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and Center for Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian Studies — have been awarded more than $8 million in grant funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive Title VI program. As one of 13 universities in the country to have four or more centers receive the highly sought-after Title VI grants, KU’s success expands upon its reputation as a hub for international activity in the Midwest.

English scholar serving as interim leader of Hall Center for Humanities following director’s retirement
LAWRENCE — Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, has retired from the University of Kansas. He led the intellectual hub for humanities scholars and its robust public outreach program for three years. Giselle Anatol, professor of English and director of KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, is serving as interim director of the Hall Center.

Eight faculty recognized as winners of distinguished teaching awards
LAWRENCE — Eight faculty members at the University of Kansas are being recognized as winners of annual distinguished teaching awards. The award recipients, who represent the Lawrence and Medical Center campuses, will be honored Aug. 18 at the KU Teaching Summit.

Two KU Law professors elected to prestigious American Law Institute
LAWRENCE – Two professors at the University of Kansas School of Law — Uma Outka and Andrew Torrance — are among 60 newly elected members of the American Law Institute, an independent national organization that produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law. There are now nine active KU Law faculty who are members of the institute.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Jill Hummels, Office of the Provost, 785-864-6577, [email protected], @KUProvost
KU area studies centers win $8 million in Title VI funding
LAWRENCE — Four international area studies centers at the University of Kansas have been awarded more than $8 million in grant funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive Title VI program.
As one of 13 universities in the country to have four or more centers receive the highly sought-after Title VI grants, KU’s success expands upon its reputation as a hub for international activity in the Midwest.
The Title VI National Resource Centers program provides grants to establish, strengthen and operate centers throughout the United States that teach modern foreign languages, as well as provide instruction about the history and cultures of the region where the languages are used.
“This news confirms KU is a critical resource for the region as our civic and industry leaders strive to establish and expand international partnerships,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “We are helping ensure our research and scholarship have global impact and that we prepare students and other stakeholders to contribute in the global environment.”
As part of the grant application process, KU faculty and staff labored for months to create nationally competitive proposals for interdisciplinary programs of research, teaching and outreach.
“The selection of these proposals as winners in a very elite national competition, and the awarding of the national resource center designation, is a testament to the very high quality of international scholarship at the University of Kansas,” said Melissa Birch, director of the KU Institute for International & Global Engagement. “That all four centers won this designation is a tremendous boost to KU’s AAU (Association of American Universities) status.”
The four area studies centers to receive Title VI National Resource Centers designation:
1. Kansas African Studies Center (KASC)
2. Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS)
3. Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
4. Center for Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian Studies (CREES)
As a National Resource Center, these units will receive $3.8 million over the next four years. Additionally, the centers will receive an additional $4.3 million over four years to provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students through Foreign Language and Area Studies grants.
The National Resource Center grants will allow for new faculty hires, instruction in less commonly taught languages, course development, expanded study abroad opportunities, innovative events and workshops, and new partnerships with community colleges and minority-serving institutions.
The success in receiving the Title VI grants reaffirms KU’s long-standing commitment to international education and leadership in area studies. The awards bolster KU’s efforts to incorporate comprehensive institutional internationalization as a foundational principle in the Jayhawks Rising strategic plan.
“We are defining the future of the international research university here at KU, and I could not be more excited about the direction we are heading in,” said Charles Bankart, KU senior internationalization officer. “We have unprecedented support across KU’s leadership team, and as these federal grants attest, we not only have an extraordinary faculty at KU and group of center directors, but the full support of the federal government for our vision and plans moving forward.”
The federal grants follow several new initiatives at KU to better foster international engagement. Since the start of 2022, the Office of the Provost has:
1. Launched the Institute for International & Global Engagement (KU-IIGE) as a new institutional umbrella for the area studies centers and as a platform for strategic community engagement and announced Melissa Birch as its director.
2. Appointed Megan Greene, professor of history, as provost fellow to focus on internationalization through faculty engagement in teaching and research.
3. Charles Bankart was named senior internationalization officer and will partner with academic and administrative leadership, KU-IIGE and the provost fellow to fully integrate internationalization into KU’s strategic planning efforts.
Among the KU-IIGE’s aims is improved alignment among KU’s area studies centers, and its creation was touted in the centers’ application for funding.

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Contact: Mindie Paget, Office of Research, 785-864-0013, [email protected], @ResearchAtKU
English scholar serving as interim leader of Hall Center for Humanities following director’s retirement
LAWRENCE — Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, has retired from the University of Kansas. He led the intellectual hub for humanities scholars and its robust public outreach program for three years.
Giselle Anatol, professor of English and director of KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, is serving as interim director of the Hall Center.
“I’m grateful to Richard for advancing a compelling vision for the Hall Center as a place for humanists to engage with one another and with community on the most difficult questions of our day,” said Simon Atkinson, vice chancellor for research. “He made sure that work continued — and even broadened its reach — as the pandemic forced activities online.”
The Hall Center is a focus of intellectual life for scholars in the humanities, arts and humanistic social sciences at KU and for members of the surrounding community. It is one of 12 designated research centers that fall under the KU Office of Research. During Godbeer’s tenure, the Hall Center expanded research support for faculty and students, launched a new speaker series featuring recently published work by KU humanities scholars, and built partnerships with other institutions, most recently becoming a sponsor of the National Humanities Center. During the pandemic, the center leveraged online platforms to reach new audiences far beyond Lawrence with a broad range of public programming. In 2021, the Hall Center partnered with KU’s Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities to secure a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a digital storytelling project that brings together more than 40 community and KU-based partners.
The center also collaborated with the Office of Research to launch the KU Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Awards and joined both the Office of Research and the Center for Faculty Development & Mentoring to support the Public Scholars Group. Now in its second year, the group prepares KU scholars to use mechanisms such as op-eds and podcasts to foster informed, constructive dialogue with the broader public.
“Serving as director of this remarkable center, benefiting from the creativity and hard work of all those who preceded me, working with the Hall Center’s amazing staff to sustain our mission during the pandemic, and having the opportunity to imagine the Hall Center’s future has been a highlight of my career,” Godbeer said. “As I step away from my responsibilities, I feel deep gratitude and wish the humanities community across and beyond KU all the very best.”
In addition to directing the Hall Center, Godbeer served as the Charles W. Battey Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. His research focuses on witchcraft, religious culture, gender and sexuality in colonial and revolutionary North America — topics that have fueled his authorship of six books. Before joining KU in 2019, Godbeer had been the founding director of the Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Giselle Anatol joined KU in 1998. Her research interests include Caribbean literature and folklore, U.S. African American literature, speculative fiction by authors of the African diaspora, and representations of race, ethnicity and gender in writing for youth. She has written “The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora,” a book published in 2015 by Rutgers University Press, and a number of book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. She has also fostered scholarly collaboration by editing three collections of essays on children’s and young adult literature.
Anatol has been recognized repeatedly for teaching and research excellence at KU, receiving the Frances L. Stiefel Teaching Professorship in English, the Ned Fleming Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Conger-Gabel Teaching Professorship, and the English graduate student organization’s Mabel S. Fry Teaching Award. She was named one of KU’s Women of Distinction in 2013 and was selected for the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholar-in-Residence fellowship program in 2012.
“I am grateful to Dr. Anatol for agreeing to lead the Hall Center through this interim period,” Atkinson said. “The Hall Center plays a critical role in KU’s continuing excellence in humanistic inquiry and interdisciplinary scholarship — helping us understand what it means to be human throughout time and across cultures. I am confident Giselle will sustain the momentum and relationships that Richard cultivated during his time at the university.”

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Contact: Joe Monaco, Office of Public Affairs, 785-864-7100, [email protected], @UnivOfKansas
Eight faculty recognized as winners of distinguished teaching awards
LAWRENCE — Eight faculty members at the University of Kansas are being recognized as winners of annual distinguished teaching awards.
The award recipients will be honored Aug. 18 at the KU Teaching Summit.
This year’s winners are as follows:
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, associate professor in the Department of Economics, will receive the Byron T. Shutz Award. Established in 1978, the award alternates between recognizing excellent teaching in business and economics in even-numbered years and outstanding teaching in any discipline in odd-numbered years.

Paulyn Cartwright, professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, will receive the Ned N. Fleming Trust Award. This award, established in 1990, recognizes outstanding teaching.

Three individuals are recipients of this year’s Bob & Kathie Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes nontenure track faculty. The three winners are Victor Gonzalez Betancourt, assistant teaching professor in the Undergraduate Biology Program; Stephen Johnson, senior lecturer in English; and Tamara Coder Mikinski, multi-term lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Four faculty members at KU Medical Center will receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Awards, selected by a committee of Medical Center faculty and students. The recipients of these awards are Dr. Lore Nelson, clinical associate professor of pediatrics; Dr. Vanessa Williams, assistant professor of radiology; Lisa Trujillo, clinical associate professor of respiratory care; and Dr. Laurel Witt, associate professor of family medicine & community health.

The KU Teaching Summit takes place each August and is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence, Office of the Provost and KU Medical Center. The conference is designed for faculty and instructional staff from the Lawrence, Edwards and Medical Center campuses. Those interested in registering to attend may do so online.

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Don’t miss new episodes of “When Experts Attack!,”
a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

https://kansaspublicradio.org/when-experts-attack
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Contact: Margaret Hair, School of Law, 785-864-9205, [email protected], @kulawschool
Two KU Law professors elected to prestigious American Law Institute
LAWRENCE – Two professors at the University of Kansas School of Law have been elected as new members of the American Law Institute.
Uma Outka and Andrew Torrance are among 60 newly elected members of the American Law Institute, an independent national organization that produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law. There are now nine active KU Law faculty who are members of the institute.
The institute – composed of lawyers, judges and law professors – drafts, discusses, revises and publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes and principles of law that are influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.
Outka joined the KU Law faculty in 2011, served as associate dean for faculty from 2019-2022, and she was named the William R. Scott Law Professor in 2019. Outka is an affiliate faculty member of KU’s Environmental Studies Program, Center for Environmental Policy and Institute for Policy & Social Research.
Outka works at the intersection of energy law and environmental law. Her scholarship explores the legal context for energy transition, with particular interests in energy and environmental justice, renewable energy, electricity regulation and decarbonization of the electric grid. Outka is a co-principal investigator on a multi-institutional project to give communities a voice in policy guiding the transition to renewable energy, supported by a $500,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
“I’m honored by the nomination and election to join the American Law Institute and look forward to contributing to ALI’s work, especially equity-centered legal reforms,” Outka said.
Torrance joined the KU Law faculty in 2005 and was named the Paul E. Wilson Distinguished Professor of Law in 2019. Torrance serves as associate dean for international and comparative law. He won a 2015 University Scholarly Achievement Award at KU, has been recognized as a Docking Faculty Scholar and is a former Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor. He received the Dean Frederick T. Moreau Teaching and Mentoring Award at KU Law in 2018.
Torrance teaches and conducts research in patent law, intellectual property, innovation, food and drug regulation, biotechnology law, biodiversity law, biolaw, and empirical, experimental and big data approaches to the law. Torrance has been a visiting scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012 and a fellow of the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research since 2010. Among his invited presentations have been an invited Google Tech Talk, a keynote at Genome Canada and a TEDx Talk. He is also a co-founder of both the Patent Conference and Biolawllapalooza. Torrance led the intellectual property department at the Eli and Edythe Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard from August 2019 to July 2021.
“I’m deeply honored to be elected to the ALI. I look forward to contributing to its mission of improving the quality of law and justice for all,” Torrance said.
New members to the American Law Institute are selected from nominations submitted by ALI members. Michael Hoeflich, John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law at KU, led the nomination effort for Outka and Torrance.
“Membership in the ALI is the law school equivalent of National Academy designations in other academic disciplines. It is among the highest honors a member of our faculty can receive,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the KU School of Law. “Compared with other law schools in our region, KU Law has a high percentage of faculty in the ALI. It is great to see our membership group expand further.”
Other KU Law faculty who are members of the American Law Institute are listed online.
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