KU News: KU seniors honor Kansas high school teachers with Wolfe Teaching Excellence Awards

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2022 KU seniors honor high school teachers with Wolfe Teaching Excellence Awards
LAWRENCE — Three outstanding high school teachers will be recognized with the Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award this graduation season at the University of Kansas. Nominations are submitted by KU seniors. The recipients are educators at Andover High School, Blue Valley Northwest High School and the Kansas School for the Deaf.

Spencer Museum, Charlotte Street Foundation relaunch Rocket Grants
LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and Charlotte Street Foundation have announced the return of Rocket Grants with the call for artists opening May 13. With support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Rocket Grants provide direct funding to artists in the Kansas City region who are creating exceptional, under-the-radar and artist-centered projects in public spaces. Artists, curators, collectives and collaborative groups residing within an 80-mile radius of the Kansas City metropolitan area are eligible to apply.

School of Education & Human Sciences to honor 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Education & Human Sciences will honor alumnus John Heim, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards, with the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. Prior to joining NASB, Heim served as the executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Professor’s book chapter traces evolution of Chinese law, current lack of a ‘legal soul’
LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor of law traces the competing philosophies of Chinese law, the evolution of the nation’s legal philosophies over more than 25 centuries and how that evolution contributes to the current state of the country and its citizens’ lives in a book chapter for “The Routledge International Handbook of Morality, Cognition, and Emotion in China.”

KU International Affairs awards 14 grants for research, collaboration abroad
LAWRENCE — KU International Affairs has awarded more than $46,000 in travel grants to 13 University of Kansas faculty members and one graduate student to support research and collaboration abroad. These competitively awarded funds were dispersed among researchers in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Music. They will travel to 12 countries on four continents to conduct research, access archives, collaborate with colleagues and strengthen international partnerships.

Faculty member Emily Witt wins Michler Prize
LAWRENCE — Emily Witt, associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded the 2022-2023 Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize from the Association of Women in Mathematics and Cornell University. Witt was selected for her research accomplishments in commutative algebra. She will use the award to pursue a research project at the intersection of commutative algebra, algebraic geometry and singularity theory.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Aspen Grender, School of Education & Human Sciences, [email protected], @KUSOEHS
2022 KU seniors honor high school teachers with Wolfe Teaching Excellence Awards
LAWRENCE — Three outstanding high school teachers will be recognized with the Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award this graduation season at the University of Kansas.
“For those in the teaching profession, perhaps the highest honor that can be bestowed is to have former students recognize the impact great teachers had on their lives,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education & Human Sciences. “The Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award does just that, arguably the most valuable evaluation any classroom teacher will ever experience.”
Nominations are submitted by KU seniors. Students from any major can nominate their former teachers, and the winners can be high school teachers from anywhere in the world. The 2022 award recipients:
1. Karen Stohlmann Henderson, Blue Valley Northwest High School
2. Kester Horn-Marsh, Kansas School for the Deaf
3. Sarah Koehn, Andover High School.
Henderson was nominated by Darene Essa, a senior in mechanical engineering at KU. Essa took Henderson’s Honors Principles of Engineering and AP Calculus classes, in addition to being a member of the first cohort of the Femineers program led by Henderson. In the nomination, Essa wrote: “Getting to know Ms. Stohlmann as a teacher and as a mentor has taught me a lot about the sacrifices she makes as she develops a career she loves. It is no exaggeration to say that a dedicated teacher can change a student’s life. For me, Ms. Stohlmann is that inspirational teacher who consistently went above and beyond in offering support to me and my fellow peers.”
Horn-Marsh was nominated by Nathan Shayan Jalali, a senior in deaf studies and psychology at KU. Jalali took Horn-Marsh’s ninth grade English class and a creative writing course. Jalali wrote: “My love for American Sign Language started with Kester. And for the rest of my life, I will be forever grateful for his inspiration and encouragement for me to get involved with the Deaf community and embrace who I am.”
Koehn was nominated by Paul Turner, a senior in environmental studies at KU, who took Koehn’s theatre classes and worked alongside her on school theatre productions. In his nomination, Turner wrote: “Ms. Koehn is also an incredible leader and a mentor to generations of students. Her leadership and mentorship abilities started with the respect and esteem she had for her students. She saw potential in everyone.”
Recipients each receive a cash award of $3,000, and their respective high schools each receive $1,000. The award winners were selected from a large pool of outstanding nominees by a committee of faculty, administrators and students from KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Education & Human Sciences.
The award recipients are honored during Commencement weekend at the KU School of Education & Human Sciences convocation ceremony, along with a dinner held in their honor. Award recipients will receive a plaque in honor of their accomplishments.
The Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award was created in 2006 with a $250,000 gift from R. Dean Wolfe, business administration, ’66, and juris doctor, ’69, and Cheryl L. Wolfe, Spanish education, ’69, Clayton, Missouri, through the Wolfe Family Foundation. The award fund is managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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Contact: Elizabeth Kanost, Spencer Museum of Art, 785-864-0142, [email protected], @SpencerMuseum
Spencer Museum, Charlotte Street Foundation relaunch Rocket Grants
LAWRENCE — The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and Charlotte Street Foundation have announced the return of Rocket Grants with the call for artists opening May 13.
With support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Rocket Grants provide direct funding to artists in the Kansas City region who are creating exceptional, under-the-radar and artist-centered projects in public spaces. Artists, curators, collectives and collaborative groups residing within an 80-mile radius of the Kansas City metropolitan area are eligible to apply.
Rocket Grants award up to $6,000 to individuals or artist groups for projects that exist outside established venues such as museums, galleries, theaters or arts districts. Artists are encouraged to address the community at large or choose a smaller targeted audience. The long-term goals of the Rocket Grants program are to encourage emerging and nontraditional artistic practices in the Kansas City region; to contribute to a thriving arts community; and to build bridges between geographic and cultural communities.
Rocket Grants projects are selected by a jury of four arts professionals working both locally and nationally. Proposals are evaluated on criteria including innovation, thoughtful context, feasibility and meaningful impact.
To apply artists must submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) online by June 27. The LOI should include a project summary, the artists involved, the intended audience, the specific context of the work, budget needs and relevance of the project. The jury will assess the Letters of Interest and invite selected projects to complete a full application in July 2022. Rocket Grants recipients will be announced in September 2022.
Through continued support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Rocket Grants program has previously awarded funding to artists for 10 cycles from 2010 to 2019. During 2020 and 2021 the funding was distributed through Rocket Relief emergency grants of $1,000 each to support a total of 405 visual and multidisciplinary artists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Spencer Museum is excited to continue our support of local artists through Rocket Grants, expecting that we relaunch the program into a new world where artists are responding and creating in different ways post-COVID,” said Saralyn Reece Hardy, Spencer Museum director.
Rocket Grants projects encompass a broad range of visual art, performance, film, video, new media, writing, public programming, social practice and interdisciplinary work. The Rocket Grant Blog includes an online archive and documentation of past projects.

For any questions regarding the application process, please contact Kimberly Kitada, Jedel Family Foundation Curatorial Fellow, at [email protected]

Related Programming
The public is invited to attend in-person information sessions that will answer questions about the application and jury process.
May 26, 6-7 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St., Lawrence
May 31, 6-7 p.m.
Charlotte Street Foundation Library, 3333 Wyoming St., Kansas City, Missouri.
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Contact: Aspen Grender, School of Education & Human Sciences, [email protected], @KUSOEHS
School of Education & Human Sciences to honor 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Education & Human Sciences will honor alumnus John Heim with one of its top awards this spring.
Heim will be recognized at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award on May 14 at the school’s spring convocation ceremony at Allen Fieldhouse.
Heim is the executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), where he has served in his role since 2021. NSBA is a federation of state associations that represent locally elected school board officials serving approximately 51 million public school students. A nonprofit organization, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. Prior to joining NASB, Heim served as the executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB).
Heim earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and teaching from KU in 1981. He later received a master’s degree from Fort Hays State University and a doctorate from Kansas State University. Before joining KASB, Heim served as the superintendent at Emporia Public Schools from 1997 to 2010, where he was also an adjunct professor from 2000 to 2010; as a visiting practitioner at Wichita State University from 1997 to 1998; and as executive director of the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK) from 1994 to 1997.
He has held leadership roles in various public education organizations, serving as president of the Kansas Association of School Administrators; a board of directors member and legislative committee chair of the United School Administrators of Kansas; and as a member of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning Superintendents Forum.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards are the highest honor the School of Education & Human Sciences bestows upon its alumni. Award recipients demonstrate ongoing, exceptional professional, academic or research achievement and contribution to the community at the local, state, national or international levels.

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a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

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Contact: Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860, [email protected], @MikeKrings
Professor’s book chapter traces evolution of Chinese law, current lack of a ‘legal soul’
LAWRENCE — China is a major player on the world stage, and nations around the globe watch it carefully to see what steps it will take next politically, economically and legally. But a relatively recent change in China’s approach to law has both altered its “legal soul” and made it unpredictable, a University of Kansas professor wrote in a new book chapter.
For centuries, Chinese law was largely guided by Confucianism. But in the early 20th century, that approach was discarded in favor of legalism. John Head, Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor of Law at KU, traces the formal versus informal competing philosophies of Chinese law, the evolution of the nation’s legal philosophies over more than 25 centuries and how that evolution contributes to the current state of the country and its citizens’ lives in “The Routledge International Handbook of Morality, Cognition, and Emotion in China,” edited by Ryan Nichols.
In his chapter, Head traced the more than 2,000-year tradition of Chinese law. He wrote that in ways not found in other countries, the Chinese legal tradition has been based on two competing ideologies: Confucianism, or an informal approach of unwritten rules enforced by a highly cultivated elite, and legalism, a much more formal approach involving written laws backed by harsh punishments. Over many centuries, the two approaches have competed for influence and affected not only the specific laws and rules in the nation, but its overarching attitudes and moral psychology as well. This competition largely ended, though, with the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the ascent of the People’s Republic of China and communism in the early 20th century – and then most emphatically by the revolutionary creation of the People’s Republic of China midcentury. Then, the informal approach was cast aside and legalism has been the dominant philosophy since, thus altering China’s “legal soul,” Head wrote. He added that his intent was not to criticize or advocate for either approach but to better understand Chinese legal thought and moral philosophy.
“I recognize there are good things happening in China as well, especially in terms of environmental and ecological strategies,” Head said. “The government has made quite an impressive pivot to place environmental concerns front and center in its plans. My chapter is not about that specifically, but about how China has for centuries featured a remarkable balance between these competing forms of legal theory. In the last century, that balance has largely been blown apart. And if we regard the informal, Confucianist element in the balance to provide the glue, or legal soul to hold things together in China, then this is troubling.”
After tracing the back and forth between formal and informal approaches through numerous dynasties and governments, Head wrote about why the lack of a legal soul can be troubling for the world at large.
“My argument is they don’t have the glue, or legal soul, to hold things together. That, I think, is problematic in the larger sense,” Head said. “In a nutshell, I find it troubling because we want big players on the world stage to be predictable. China, it seems to me, is extremely hard to predict — partly because of this change in the character of its legal system — how it will behave going forward.”
While Head wrote that many nations around the world could be similarly described as unpredictable in governmental and legal terms, he found that the sheer size and influence of China make it much more consequential. Furthermore, the weakening of an informal legal approach as defined by Confucianism can also weaken the ethical foundations of the country’s society, Head wrote, as evidenced by the country’s ongoing human rights emergencies and numerous violations thereof, both documented and alleged.
Regardless of a nation’s political system, it must rely on its people to influence said government behavior, and without a shared ethical mooring, it is more likely for dangerous political leadership to take the country in directions not in the interest of the global greater good, Head wrote. A nation’s law also carries its policy as to how the national consciousness is expressed as well as how national goals are set and pursued.
The book, available May 10, takes a broad look at how contemporary Chinese cognition, behavior and emotions surrounding morality contribute to the national consciousness. The larger topic, and how law contributes specifically, are important ways to understand one of the preeminent nations in the world. Further inspection of China’s battling approaches of formal versus informal takes on law, one the United States and most other countries do not have, can help build understanding.
“To see this formal-informal competition in action is instructive, not only about China, but also about ourselves,” Head said.
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The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.
Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.


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Contact: Christine Metz Howard, International Affairs, [email protected], @KUintlaffairs
KU International Affairs awards 14 grants for research, collaboration abroad
LAWRENCE — KU International Affairs has awarded more than $46,000 in travel grants to 13 University of Kansas faculty members and one graduate student to support research and collaboration abroad.
These competitively awarded funds were dispersed among faculty and students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Music. Through these funds, the recipients will travel to 12 countries on four continents to conduct research, access archives, collaborate with colleagues and strengthen international partnerships.
Recipients will use the funds between now and June 30, 2023.
Faculty Grants
South, Southeast and East Asia Fund
The South, Southeast and East Asia Fund develops, strengthens and maintains institutional exchanges and academic collaborations between KU and counterparts at selected postsecondary institutions within Asia.
1. Rafe Brown, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, will travel to the Philippines to launch a long-term study of terrestrial biodiversity with international collaborators and to engage with the local community to manage its tropical forest resources.
2. Eungsik Kim, assistant professor of economics, will travel to South Korea to perform a welfare analysis of public pension and fiscal policies across East Asian countries and to research behavioral mistakes and irrational choices of households and its implications on macroeconomic outcomes and governmental policies.
3. M. Hashim Raza, assistant professor in the Child Language Doctoral Program, will travel to Pakistan to collect data with advanced genetic tools and molecular methods to better understand specific language impairment in consanguineous families.
4. Maya Stiller, associate professor of Korean art and visual culture, will travel to South Korea for field research of monk portraits and primary sources located in the museums of Buddhist temples, which is essential to the completion of her book manuscript.
5. Paul Stock, associate professor of sociology and environmental studies, will travel to Indonesia to develop, strengthen and maintain institutional exchanges and academic collaborations with international partners and to perform qualitative research and interview new, millennial farmers about technological adoption, land use and urban farming.
6. James Thorp, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, will travel to Malaysia to research stream ecology and insect diversity to advance knowledge of food web structure in understudied Southeast Asian freshwater stream ecosystems.

KU-UCR Exchange Support Fund
The KU-UCR Exchange Support Fund, administered by KU International Affairs, prioritizes support for faculty exchange development between KU and the University of Costa Rica. The fund can also be used to support KU faculty research in Costa Rica or elsewhere in Latin America.
1. Michael Krueger, professor of visual art, will travel to Paraguay for a solo exhibition of his artworks at Fuga Villa Morra. He will also offer a workshop for the community and give a public lecture on his art and research.
2. Daniel Velasco, assistant professor of flute, will travel to Ecuador to perform a solo recital with piano accompaniment, teach a masterclass and perform as a member of the flute ensemble at the closing concert at the International Flute Festival in the Middle of the World.
3. Stephanie Zelnick, professor of clarinet, will travel to Costa Rica to teach and perform at the University of Costa Rica, the National Institute of Music in Costa Rica and at the International Clarinet Festival of Costa Rica.

International Travel Fund for Humanities Research
The International Travel Fund for Humanities Research supports KU faculty pursuing international humanities research abroad. The funds are intended for summer research projects and provide funding for airfare and related travel expenses.
1. Daniel Acosta, associate professor of Spanish, will travel to Mexico for the design and implementation of a database for quantifying and understanding literary prestige and consumption in contemporary Mexico and its diaspora.
2. Verónica Garibotto, professor of Spanish, will travel to Argentina to research psychoanalysis and intersectionality that will result in a book publication and the development of a new first-year seminar.
3. Mechele Leon, professor of theatre and dance, will travel to Spain to visit Jewish heritage sites with the goal of creating public performances and written scholarship on the themes of absence, nostalgia, tourism and the affective power of family history research.
4. Paul Scott, associate professor of French, will travel to Paris for archival and library research, which will form the basis of a book-length project on fashion and moralists in early modern France.

Graduate Grants
Pre-Dissertation Travel Grant
Pre-Dissertation Travel Grants support six- to eight-week trips for preliminary dissertation field activities taking place in Latin America.
Rafael Gonzalez, graduate student in geography, will travel to Mexico to develop relationships within the Rarámuri community in preparation for future dissertation research on place attachment for homeland and urban settlements and how it is perceived by the Rarámuri who live in the city, especially from a generational, gender and queer perspective.

For more information visit international.ku.edu/funding-international-travel.

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Contact: Gloria Prothe, Department of Mathematics, [email protected]
Faculty member Emily Witt wins Michler Prize
LAWRENCE — Emily Witt, associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded the 2022-2023 Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize from the Association of Women in Mathematics and Cornell University.
Witt was selected for her research accomplishments in commutative algebra. Her results on local cohomology modules based on applications of invariant theory were found to be groundbreaking, and her techniques are innovative and broadly applicable. Witt will use the award to pursue a research project at the intersection of commutative algebra, algebraic geometry and singularity theory. The project’s title, “Invariants of Singular Plane Curves,” is a tribute to the paper with the same title published posthumously by Ruth I. Michler.
Witt will interact with experts in commutative algebra such as Irena Peeva and Mike Stillman at Cornell’s mathematics department.
“It is an honor to receive the Michler Memorial Prize. Ruth Michler’s work in the field of algebra makes the award especially meaningful to me. I am grateful to the AWM and the Michler family for the opportunity to interact with Cornell’s fantastic researchers in algebra and geometry and related fields,” Witt said.
Witt received her doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2011. Since 2015, she has been a faculty member at the University of Kansas, where she was promoted to associate professor in 2020. She currently holds a KU Keeler Intra-University Professorship, which facilitates her collaboration with computer science faculty members on the use of proof assistant software to develop formal proofs.
Witt’s achievements have been recognized by awards from her current institution, the National Science Foundation, the Simons Foundation and the National Security Agency. She currently holds an NSF CAREER Award.
In addition to her research achievements, Witt is involved in a number of initiatives promoting diversity in the mathematical community. She co-organized the first Women in Commutative Algebra research collaboration workshop and co-directed, with Daniel Hernández, associate professor of mathematics, an REU program in algebra and cryptography serving students from underrepresented groups. One of Witt’s goals while visiting Cornell is to learn more about the mathematics department’s successful programs that address diversity and inclusion in STEM.
The Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize was established through a donation from Ruth Michler’s parents, Gerhard and Waltraud Michler of Essen, Germany. The award grants a midcareer mathematician a residential fellowship in the Cornell University mathematics department without teaching obligations.

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