Whitman Faculty, Staff Members Receive Recognition

Josephine Adamski

Whitman professors, faculty and staff are often honored for their hard work throughout the year. Usually their accomplishments are known to their colleagues and students, but they may not be acknowledged by the community as a whole. Three of Whitman’s faculty and staff members, featured here, have recently received huge acknowledgements of their projects and accomplishments.

Assistant Professor of English Christopher Leise won the Graves Award in the Humanities for his project, “Iroquois Modernism.” The project focuses on literature by the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples of modern-day New York and Ontario as a distinct national tradition. Currently Leise is on sabbatical continuing this research and contributing to the project.  

“The project was designed to support humanities research that ties directly to classroom teaching. I’m getting money to go to New York that has special collections regarding Iroquois literature. This way we can better understand ways in which Iroquois literature responded to the shift from thinking and communicating primarily from Iroquois speech to primarily English. So I looked into how the Iroquois people maintain and preserve their traditional life ways despite the pressure to speak English” said Leise.

According to Leise, he is still in the process of observing this question. Leise found and analyzed not only Iroquois novels, but also plays, short stories, visual maps and poetry.

“I had [a] very dear mentor, whom I’m still in touch with, who is Mohawk, and he got me early on. You[‘ve] got to think about these people … They have different politics [and] identities––different within and across different people. It’s important that these [different types of literary] materials aren’t prioritized as one or the other, and that’s really important” said Leise.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Erin Pahlke has been doing and still is doing research regarding the much debated topic of same-sex schooling as a method to improve the U.S. educational system. Pahlke recently published a paper of her research in the American Psychology Association journal Psychological Bulletin. Within the study, Pahlke did cross-case studies regarding the advantages and disadvantages of same-sex schooling.

The question is: [Do the studies] actually prove same-sex education? So, the NSF gave us a grant to analyze these studies (about 150 studies), and we coded each study [and] what the effects of single sex learning are … So there ended up being no difference between single-sex learning and non-single-sex learning, and it’s important in terms of this debate. So it answers the question ‘Do we need to separate the schools?’ and then the question ‘Is it a good idea in general?’ and the answer is probably not,” said Pahlke.  

The research has already received coverage in The Washington Post, Ms. and The Seattle Times, among others. The research is not only interesting but relevant in the educational research realm where same-sex schooling is a serious debate.

“It’s really fun and that is part of the fun of research, and it’s cool to have a research question on a question that people care about. Then to be able to come up with part of the answer––it is so fun. To be able to talk with people and do research that people are talking about [in] academia, that’s fun” said Pahlke.

The article was coauthored with Janet Shibley Hyde and Carlie M. Allison of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Whitman’s Environmental Health and Safety Manager Fred Miller is a recipient of the University Risk Management Insurance Association 2014 Regional Conference Scholarship Program. Essentially, Miller’s job is risk management at Whitman. He allows the school to safely host events for students. The scholarship program provides financial support to URMIA members to enable them to attend the regional conference for their area. Miller will attend the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Baltimore, Md. in May.
“It benefits Whitman. It makes me more aware of how things work at small institutions. It can help me network with my peers and allow that system to be more efficient. I can call upon an experienced person that I know and get advice from people who have done it before.  There are also formal educational parts of [the regional conference], and that allows me to be a more competent and capable risk management professional” said Miller.