Samira Sayeh

Samira Sayeh, assistant professor of French and Italian, specializes in Francophone literature and culture and the history of countries other than France that speak the language. Read More

KU People

Deshler becomes first Williamson Family Distinguished Professor in Special Education

Don Deshler, professor of special education, has been appointed the first Williamson Family Distinguished Professor in Special Education. Deshler was chosen in recognition of his accomplishments in teaching, research and service to the field. The endowed professorship is funded by a gift from Del and Barbara Williamson of Wellington, Fla. The Williamsons are longtime KU supporters and advocates for children with disabilities and their families. Barbara Williamson is a graduate of KU’s School of Education.

Thomas to step down, take new coordinator post

Greg Thomas will resign as chair of the Department of Design effective July 1, when he will become coordinator of development at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The design department is joining the architecture school in a restructuring of the School of Fine Arts, which is pending approval by the Kansas Board of Regents. Thomas’ new position will enable him to continue to develop external business connections and industrial partnerships, plan and fund strategies for facility and equipment needs and create new revenue streams.

Mercer promoted at policy research institute

Susan Mercer has been promoted to associate director of the Institute for Policy and Social Research. She joined the institute in 1996 and most recently served as assistant director. In 2007-08, she was a member of the inaugural Staff Fellows cohort. She serves on the Staff Fellows Advisory Board. Mercer is also a member of Unclassified Senate, representing the research sector.

KGS scientist honored for work

Jianghai Xia, a senior scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey, has been recognized by an international organization of geophysicists for his extensive research accomplishments and published works.

Xia received the Harold Mooney Award in November at the annual meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in Las Vegas.

Xia’s research focuses on near-surface seismology, in which noninvasive techniques are used to produce, measure and analyze seismic sound waves that travel through the upper several hundred feet of the Earth.

Xia has been at the Kansas Geological Survey since 1986 and has co-authored more than 60 articles. He also is associate editor of the journal Near Surface Geophysics and guest editor of the Journal of China University of Geosciences. Xia is the second Kansas Geological Survey scientist to win the Mooney award. KU geophysicist Rick Miller was given the award in 1995.

KUMC announces External Affairs restructuring

Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center, has announced a restructuring of the External Affairs Office. The restructuring follows the announcement that David Adkins is leaving the post of vice chancellor for external affairs.

In the new structure, Amy Jordan Wooden will assume the role of associate vice chancellor for external affairs, which oversees communications, government relations, events and community affairs efforts. She was previously senior director for public affairs. The departments of Rural Health, Telemedicine and Continuing Education and the Area Health Education Centers will form a new Office of Outreach and will be led by Vice Chancellor David Cook.

Cook will also take the role of executive director of the Midwest Cancer Alliance Clinical Trials Network and retain his role as associate director in the Institute of Community and Public Health.

Jessica Taveau and David Rowe have been named director of communications and director of government and community affairs, respectively.

Professor wins first place in music competition

Forrest Pierce, assistant professor of music composition, won first place in a music commissioning competition with the Boston Choral Ensemble that recognizes an accomplished composer and supports the artist in the creation of a new work for a cappella chamber choir to be premiered by ensemble in spring 2009.

Pierce’s piece was chosen from nearly 50 applicants from across the world. The title of Pierce’s winning work was “The Jasmine Arrow Sutra.” The piece sets excerpts from the Dhammapada, also known as “Sayings of the Buddha” in the original Pali and in English translation.

The premiere of Pierce’s new work will be June 5 and 7 as part of the Boston Choral Ensemble’s final concert of its 2008-09 season. The winning work will be rehearsed, prepared and integrated into the program. Pierce also received a cash prize of $1,300.

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