Dr. Christine Mele, visiting assistant professor of international relations, was honored this semester with a Golden Tusk Award. The Division of Student Affairs presents the Golden Tusk to faculty and staff members who have been nominated for the award by "doing the right things, going above and beyond, and helping to make campus life a little better for everyone."
Nominations can be made by any university community member; in Dr. Mele's class one of her students nominated her for the award. In her nomination, the student wrote the following justification for why Dr. Mele should receive this prestigious honor:"Dr. Mele has always gone above and beyond with her students. She is my favorite professor because she is tough, fair, understanding, and caring. She does not simply care that you succeed she cares that you understand the topic and through that well rounded understanding succeed. IF you are willing to try she works hard right along with you. At one point in the semester some of her students myself included were having difficulty with graphs, she spent four hours and forty minutes working on graphs with us and that was just one afternoon there were many times when she has taken her students and worked with them to help them understand the subject matter. This is a professor that cares deeply and deserves to be recognized for all that she does. Dr Mele is beyond an amazing instructor, she is a wonderful person who has decided to invest herself in her students and with that her students have invested themselves in her class. She deserves to be recognized for her outstanding teaching abilities."
We in political science congratulate Dr. Mele on this important achievement, and consider ourselves lucky we're able to have such an exceptional faculty member in our department.
Angie Maxwell, the Blair Professor of Southern Studies and an assistant professor of political science, has been named director of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, effective April 1.
As director of the Center, Maxwell will organize the Blair Legacy Conference on Southern Politics and Society, manage the Blair Center-Clinton School Poll and oversee the new minor in Southern studies that begins this fall.
"Diane Blair was an expert in Southern politics, an activist and a role model who helped forge a path for women in academia," Maxwell said. "I am proud that we are able to continue her legacy of scholarship and civic engagement through the Blair Center, and I am grateful to Jim and Nancy Blair for their continued, unwavering support of the center."
The Blair Center was established by an act of U. S. Congress in 2001, making it one of the rare research centers in the country to be established by congressional appropriation. It was named in honor of Diane Divers Blair who taught in the Department of Political Science in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences for 30 years. The Blair Center reflects her academic model and strives to approach the study of the American South from a variety of angles, attempting to reveal the undercurrents of politics, history and culture that have shaped the region over time.
Maxwell is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and is currently working on a new book with Oxford University Press, tentatively titled The Long Southern Strategy.
She is the editor of the new edition of Ralph McGill's A Church, A School (University of South Carolina Press, 2012). She is co-editor of Unlocking V.O. Key, Jr.: Southern Politics for the Twenty-First Century (University of Arkansas press, 2011) and The Ongoing Burden of Southern History: Politics and Identity in the Twenty-First Century South (Louisiana State University Press, 2012). Her research has also appeared in the academic journals Southern Cultures, Social Science Quarterly, Race and Social Problems, and The Journal of Black Studies, among others. Maxwell serves as co-chair of the Politics and Policy Caucus of the American Studies Association, has been a featured author at the Arkansas Literary Festival and has made multiple appearances on MSNBC programs.
A Harry S Truman Scholar, Maxwell received a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of Arkansas and a doctorate in American studies from the University of Texas.
Maxwell replaces Todd G. Shields, dean of Fulbright College, who has served as the center's director since 2003.
Energy Efficiency, Renewability, and Sustainability Priorities for Arkansas Community Leaders
A team of faculty and post-graduate researchers at the University of Arkansas recently surveyed over 200 local policymakers and business leaders in Northwest Arkansas to gauge their opinions, attitudes and preferences toward energy policies and issues.
The 2014 Arkansas Energy Policy Survey was conducted by Geoboo Song, assistant professor of political science and public policy in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and John Kester III and Rachael Moyer, graduate students in the environmental dynamics doctoral program and department of political science, respectively. The survey found that the majority of local policymakers and business leaders felt confident that Arkansas has adequate energy sources to meet future energy needs and were relatively satisfied with current overall state energy policies.
With regard to sustainable energy policies, which were one of the primary concerns of this study, local policymakers and business leaders believed that there is public support for such policies, which can lead to better land use and economic opportunities, though they were concerned about local government administrative and fiscal capacity to fully implement such policy options in their communities. In particular, the majority of local policy makers and business leaders supported sustainable energy policies such as tax credit programs, home energy affordability loans, and updated energy conservation codes, as well as energy saving goals and standards for renewable energy.
As for the proposed installation of high voltage power lines in the Ozark Mountain area, another key concern of this research, local community leaders recognized a variety of benefits relating to energy reliability and efficient power transmission, but generally indicated that the risks associated with the installation outweigh such benefits. Energy supply and reliability, efficient energy transmission and the maintenance of necessary services during post-disaster or high energy demand periods are considered the most beneficial, whereas economic risk derived from a decrease in property values near high voltage power line installations and potential environmental degradation were among their deepest concerns.
When prompted to identify trusted sources for information relating to energy policy issues, local leaders expressed the most confidence in scientists and academics, while they rated religious leaders, energy companies, and mainstream news media as less dependable.
Song said, “The ramifications of this survey study are manifold. This research not only serves as a foundation for quality scholarly work in public policy studies, but also contributes to Arkansas communities by providing important policy information relevant to key stakeholders in the energy policy subsystem, which is the primary mission of the Fulbright College and the University of Arkansas. In fact, we are very excited to note that survey reports summarizing the results have been shared with more than 1,400 local policymakers and business leaders in Northwest Arkansas.”
The research team completed the first phase of the survey, which was administered to legislators, city council representatives, and professional organization members in 15 major cities in Northwest Arkansas, between March 17 and April 8. Phase 2 of the 2014 Arkansas Energy Policy Survey will be conducted this summer and will cover areas of the state outside of the northwest region.
Graduating Seniors Receive Senior Honor Citation
University of Arkansas graduating seniors Austin Axley Cole of Conway and Autumn Lewis of Joplin, Missouri, were recognized with the 2014 Senior Honor Citation during the Arkansas Alumni Association Board of Directors luncheon on May 9.
The Arkansas Alumni Association established the award 49 years ago to honor a senior male and female who exhibit outstanding academic achievement, campus and community involvement, and leadership. Students were required to be a member of the graduating class of 2014 (finishing degree requirements in August or December 2013 or May 2014.) The citation includes a personal memento, a $500 cash award, life membership in the Arkansas Alumni Association and permanent recognition on the student honor wall at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House.
Lewis, the daughter of Steve and Kathy Lewis, said she always knew she would pursue a career in politics, but it was her time at the University of Arkansas that convinced her that she specifically wanted to work on improving the United States education system. Through experiences inside and outside the classroom, she has developed a desire to ensure that every child is afforded an equal opportunity for a thorough and quality education. Ultimately, she hopes to serve in a leadership position at the U.S. Department of Education or an education-related nonprofit organization.
Her passion to work in education policy was sparked during her involvement with the Volunteer Action Center Literacy Program, which began when she volunteered at Leverett Elementary School as a reading mentor. As chair of the Literacy Program, she developed presentations for grants that led to the Literacy Program receiving more than $10,000 to implement the Scholastic R.E.A.L. Program, which allowed students to receive one book per month.
Lewis is an honors political science and economics major. She studied abroad in Japan for five weeks, where she noted the differences in education system structure between the United States and Japan. This experience further encouraged her to pursue changes to the current U.S. system, as she found initiatives proposed by education reformers in this country are being successfully employed in other nations.
The capstone of her collegiate experience was serving as an intern for Sen. Mark Pryor in Washington, D.C. During the internship, she applied her knowledge of education policy and politics to projects including representing the senator at briefings about after-school care and special education, tracking the progress of reauthorization proposals for No Child Left Behind and researching the economic impact of proposed education legislation. She will now return to Washington, D.C., to work for Pryor as a congressional assistant.
Both Cole and Lewis were chosen to serve on the 2013 U of A homecoming court and were active in the Associated Student Government throughout college. Most recently, Lewis served as chief of staff, while Cole served as secretary and director of athletic relations.