KU News: KU names new director to lead Kansas Geological Survey

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KU names new director to lead Kansas Geological Survey
Kansas Geological Survey researchers study and provide information on the state’s geologic resources and hazards, including groundwater, oil and natural gas, rocks and minerals, and earthquakes. Jay Kalbas, a leader in the energy industry, has been named director of Kansas Geological Survey. He will start his new role July 25.

Authors blame hyperpartisanship for death of political apology
When was the last time you heard a decent political apology? In the current hyperpartisan political atmosphere, they hardly exist. Doubling down is the rule. And, according to two new papers co-written by an instructor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, our polarization is not only to blame, but threatens to foreclose one of the remaining civilizing forces standing between us and violent confrontation.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Mindie Paget, 785-864-0013, [email protected]
KU names new director to lead Kansas Geological Survey
LAWRENCE — Jay Kalbas, a leader in the energy industry, has been named director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. He will start his new role July 25.

Kansas Geological Survey researchers study and provide information on the state’s geologic resources and hazards, including groundwater, oil and natural gas, rocks and minerals, and earthquakes. It is one of 12 designated research centers that fall under the KU Office of Research.

“I am delighted to join the scientists and staff of the Kansas Geological Survey and the University of Kansas. The opportunity to lead an institution with the exceptional reputation of the KGS, building on the successes of my predecessors, is one that I take on with tremendous enthusiasm and humility,” said Kalbas, who joins KU after a 16-year career with ExxonMobil. “The research and service programs that the Survey stewards provide an invaluable benefit to the people and industries of Kansas and the Midwest. Expanding those programs to maximize their impact while establishing new dimensions of research that will positively influence the sustainable use of Kansas’s natural resources presents an exciting challenge.”

As part of his position as director, Kalbas will hold the title of state geologist. He will also serve as a professor in the Department of Geology.

“Jay’s scientific background, expertise and real-world experience — plus his track record of successful leadership of diverse teams — make him a superb candidate for this role,” said Simon Atkinson, vice chancellor for research.

Kalbas fills a leadership position held since 2017 by Rolfe Mandel, who is stepping away from administration to focus on his research. Mandel is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a senior scientist at KGS, where he directs the Odyssey Geoarchaeology Research Program.

“I am grateful for Rolfe’s steady, supportive leadership these past five years, and I look forward to his next phase of discovery as he continues searching for evidence of the earliest human presence in the Central Great Plains,” Atkinson said.

At ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest publicly traded energy providers and chemical manufacturers, Kalbas has led a number of domestic and international projects to explore, develop and produce hydrocarbon resources. He most recently oversaw teams developing major new oil and natural gas resources offshore of Guyana. With a focus on subsurface characterization and fluid flow modeling, his teams were responsible for originating and executing appraisal strategies leading to the efficient commercialization of the country’s vast resources. During his time with the company, Kalbas also studied the properties of fine-grained sedimentary rocks and helped develop innovative methods for assessing and forecasting the producibility of unconventional resources. That research led to simultaneous increases in productivity and capital efficiency in several of the company’s North American oil fields.

Kalbas has served as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at Bucknell University and has developed short courses at Purdue University, the University of Iowa and Louisiana State University. He has published a number of geologic maps, authored contributions to academic literature and delivered invited lectures to industry, university and professional society audiences. Kalbas holds three degrees in geology: a bachelor’s from Furman University, a master’s from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate from Purdue University.

“Jay’s experience in petroleum geology complements existing research expertise across campus and immediately enhances efforts focused on energy transition and resilience,” said Jennifer Roberts, vice provost for academic affairs & graduate studies and professor of geology, who chaired the KGS director search committee. “His broad understanding of and enthusiasm for geoscience makes him ideal for the role of state geologist and next leader of the Kansas Geological Survey.”

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Contact: Rick Hellman, 785-864-8852, [email protected]
Authors blame hyperpartisanship for death of political apology
LAWRENCE – When was the last time you heard a decent political apology? In the current hyperpartisan political atmosphere, they hardly exist. Doubling down is the rule. And, according to two new papers co-written by an instructor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, our polarization is not only to blame, but threatens to foreclose one of the remaining civilizing forces standing between us and violent confrontation.

“There is no more mea culpa,” said Brett Bricker, who co-wrote the two articles with a former graduate student at KU, Jacob Justice, now an assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi. Bricker is a former national champion debater and champion debate coach.

The first paper, titled “When ‘I’m Sorry’ Cannot Be Said: The Evolution of Political Apology,” was published online in April in the journal Philosophy & Rhetoric.

The second, a case study titled “They Spoke in Defense of Roy Moore: Networked Apologia and Media Ecosystems,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming edition of the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs.

Caricature, Roy Moore, Roy Moore caricature (used under CC BY 2.0) with bumper stickers, public domain. Credit: DonkeyHotey.In both cases, the authors blame hyperpartisanship, exacerbated by the free flow of social media, for diminishing the returns on a politician’s apology to less than zero – at least to himself. Indeed, all of the public figures cited in the two papers as bad rhetorical actors are men – mostly, like Moore, politicians credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Bricker said he began to think that the scholarly literature on apologia – defined as a formal defense of an opinion, position or action – needed updating during the 2018 confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee and now Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Three women, most notably Christine Blasey Ford, came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted them many years prior to his nomination to the high court.

“One trend that we noticed was that, in contradiction to a lot of apologia theory in my field, which assumes that image repair requires putting oneself through this rigor of admission and reconciliation, it’s becoming much more common for people to engage in absolute denial and to blame the victim instead of seeking any personal reparation for one’s own wrongdoing,” Bricker said. “There is no more mea culpa. There’s just this conspiratorial attack, saying the victims are wrong and lying, and because of the other things that I can do for you politically, you should support me and my story.”

In this scenario, Bricker and Justice wrote, “the audience for apology has vanished.

“Acting as though they are accountable only to their most hardcore supporters, which may in fact be the case for politicians representing gerrymandered districts or states that tilt strongly Democratic or Republican, political elites scarcely worry about the concerns of voters not already in their partisan camp. … Non-apology has become a viable crisis response strategy because electorates reward political leaders that treat opposing partisans as enemy combatants in a culture war.”

The authors defend themselves against the critique of “mere nostalgia” for a kinder, gentler time, writing, “Apology is a fundamentally human act, and denial of apology is in effect a denial of our shared humanity. This state of affairs, which associates apology with emasculation and defeat, is harmful: It foments a toxic culture that denies redress for survivors of sexual assault and harassment …”

The inability to say “I’m sorry” is one thing. But the concept of “networked apologia” in the Moore paper is another that Bricker said needed exploring. Communication scholars have traditionally believed that what the apologist himself says matters most. But Bricker and Justice challenge that notion, citing the impact of the hyperpartisan media bubble many Americans inhabit.

“The factor we are paying closest attention to is how partisan ideology in an audience shapes the necessity of a response, or shapes the content of a response,” Bricker said. “There are media echo chambers developing, and in them apologia is not just done by the perceived wrongdoer. People were coming to his defense before Roy Moore even began to defend himself. There were stories developing on Twitter and in some conservative echo chambers about how these women were sluts and drug users and liars and shills from the Democrats.

“So what used to be a very top-down response — if you are perceived as doing something wrong, you must respond to it — now, there’s almost a political advantage to staying silent and letting your base or your followers develop their own narrative that you can then build on and play off of in future,” Bricker said.

While they explain these phenomenon, Bricker and Justice also decry them.

As Bricker said, “As apology diminishes, society loses one of its least violent means of remedying tension and addressing guilt.”

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