SUU In View (Alumni Magazine - Fall 2003)
Ten Years Of Success
"The afternoon skies turned black and school children were told to hurry home as fast as they could," Dr. Donald Worster related to SUU students in a recent lecture on campus. The setting was Kansas in the early 1950's during the peak of the Dust Bowl conditions where the dirt snuck into the crevices of refrigerators, and the blowing dust piled into attics until they collapsed from the weight.
Dr. Worster, "Hall Distinguished Professor of American History" at the University of Kansas, has lived through and studied dust bowl conditions. He is one of the foremost environmental historians in the world and has published eight books on American environmental history. Dr. Worster was on campus in mid-March as part of the successful George S. and Dolores Dore' Eccles Foundation Visiting Scholar Program, which is entering its tenth year at SUU.
Since 1994, the Eccles Visiting Scholar Program has been going strong at SUU. On a rotating basis, three colleges on campus per year bring in Visiting Scholars. The scholars are traditionally on campus 3-5 days and demonstrate a hands-on approach rather than a pure lecture format.
"The exciting part of the Eccles Visiting Scholar Program is that little pieces of the world are brought here to SUU students," explained Marsha Lundgren, who oversees obtaining the Eccles funding for the program each year as the Director of Corporate and Foundation Support. She continued, "Students have the opportunity to interact with individuals who have devoted their entire lives to specific areas of study, thus giving those students the opportunity to rub elbows with the scholars and ask questions in a one-on-one format."
The strength of the program lies in the fact that departments can tailor-make the visits to fit the needs of the students and faculty. A wide array of expertise has been tapped during these scholarly visits to campus. Scholars have been used as keynote speakers for conferences held on campus during their visits. Other scholars have critiqued student work in the arts, and still others have helped students transition to graduate school through helpful tips--such as how to write abstracts and papers for submission at professional conferences.
Last year, a scholar interviewed students for employment that resulted in one student being hired by his company and another serving an internship that summer. Three years ago, a scholar for the College of Education was instrumental in helping faculty with a re-allocation initiative and suggestions for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation process.
Visiting Scholar Frank Rizzo is an executive with Fitch Ratings in New York City and was recently recruited to serve on the SUU National Advisory Board for the School of Business. He was on campus six months after the September 11th attack. Fitch Ratings has a New York City office at 1 State Street Plaza, just six blocks from the World Trade Center Towers.
On the morning of September 11th, Rizzo was on the 28th floor when the first plane crashed into the North Tower. "The skyline looked surreal because you'd look up and the towers weren't there," said Rizzo. He had to walk nine miles that day to get to a place where he could be picked up. Later, he would experience anger that someone had taken a piece of his city. "Lives changed that day. People suddenly saw an airplane as a weapon," he added.
Rizzo's talk on how businesses changed in the aftermath of September 11th could not have been timelier because people were thirsty to know exactly what it was really like to be there in New York City during the attack on the Towers. They also questioned what the aftershocks and ripple effects would be for the world of finance and business.
Another timely visit this year was by Dr. Thomas Yuill. His talks centered on infectious diseases of domestic and wildlife animals at a time when the United States faced bio-terrorism threats. Dr. Yuill recently retired as the director of the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in Madison, Wisconsin.
And one Eccles Visiting Scholar this year was a former student at Southern Utah University. Dr. Doug Gubler earned his B.S. in Botany and Zoology from Southern Utah State College in the early 1970's and went on to emerge as one of the top experts in fruit crop diseases. His specific work in vineyard diseases at the University of California - Davis earned him the distinction of being knighted during a visit to France. Gubler's official French title is Chevalier- L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, France.
"The Visiting Scholar Program wound down this year with a visit by Julie Heffernan, a nationally exhibited painter who currently is exhibiting in New York City," reported Marsha Lundgren. Heffernan's "Self Portrait" series uses humor to highlight the contradiction and paradox of women's position in the world. Heffernan's paintings remind one of the old masters until you notice the overlay of juxtaposed images. She wove explanations and stories into her presentation, including the personal sabotage experiences that occurred in the 1980's when she was married to a Jewish man and living in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. Also in the same apartment housing complex where they lived were former Nazis, who subtly made their displeasure known to the couple because of their Jewish last name. Heffernan showed how good and bad experiences can impact one's painting style.
Southern Utah University students can look forward to another exciting line-up of scholars for next year, thanks to funding by the George S. and Dolores Dore' Eccles Foundation.