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Hendrix College Announces Latest Odyssey Professorship Awards

CONWAY, Ark. (February 4, 2020) — Nine Hendrix College faculty members have received Odyssey Professorships to pursue specific projects over the next three years. Each Odyssey Professorship carries an endowment to support faculty endeavors that offer students new opportunities for engaged learning, such as internships, travel, and undergraduate research.

“The Hendrix community looks forward to even more innovative and exciting engaged learning opportunities from these professors,” said Dr. Peter Gess, the College’s associate provost for engaged learning and a politics and environmental studies professor. “And the Odyssey Professorship is such a visible and important symbol of the distinctive Hendrix experiential education.”

Individual faculty members or small groups of faculty may apply for the professorships on a competitive basis. The Committee on Faculty reviews and recommends the proposals, which are approved by the President. The following Hendrix College Odyssey Professorships have been awarded for 2020-2023.

The Dr. Brad P. Baltz and Rev. William B. Smith Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Brett Hill for “Geospatial Data Management for Collaboration and Justice”:

Dr. Hill will engage Hendrix students and faculty in the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) database for use in Anthropology and Environmental Studies research. The project will make spatial data analysis more accessible to Hendrix students and faculty; encourage more collaborative and interdisciplinary research at Hendrix; and focus attention and tools on the greatest challenge facing humanity today, environmental change. This project will improve accessibility to geospatial data analysis, enhance collaborative, interdisciplinary research at Hendrix and with community partners, and include diverse data and training for students and faculty in the Sociology/Anthropology Department, the Data Analytics minor, and the six departments involved in the Environmental Studies Program. Finally, Dr. Hill will focus on environmental justice as a new course and as a unifying theme for interdisciplinary collaboration. 

The Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Daniel Whelan for “Global Engagement”:

This Professorship covers a rich array of activities mostly focused on student development, but also includes elements of faculty development and alumni outreach. The largest component of the project will support Hendrix’s enormously successful Model United Nations program. Second are a number of activities to cultivate student and faculty awareness of and interest in the Fulbright Student Program, which will lead to greater numbers of successful applications for Fulbright awards. Professor Whelan will undertake course-related research and professional development at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Through this Professorship, he will fund student-developed Odyssey projects related to global engagement. Finally, Dr. Whelan will continue his research in the area of human rights and development. Between 110 and 130 students will directly benefit from the activities supported by this Professorship.

The Thomas E. Goodwin Odyssey Professorship for Undergraduate Research in Chemistry to Dr. Peter Kett for “Life at the Nanoscale”: 

Nanoscience and nanotechnology, the study and design of nanomaterials, are rapidly developing and groundbreaking fields that impact our daily lives as nanomaterials are increasingly used in consumer products, and medical research. This Odyssey Professorship, which includes the development of a nanoscience course for non-science majors, research opportunities for students on- and off-campus, a speaker series, and engagement with students at local schools, will bring nanoscience and nanotechnology to the Hendrix College campus. This Odyssey Professorship aims to educate the Hendrix community on the benefits of nanoscience and nanotechnology, but also on the importance of considering the impact of nanomaterials on our health and environment.

The Morris and Ann Henry Odyssey Professorship to Dr. J.D. Gantz for “Investigating the Ecology and Natural History of Alaska”:

The goals of this Professorship, which will support research and immersive learning experiences in Alaska, are to: 1) survey insects associated with Alaskan peony fields; 2) establish a field research station at a peony farm outside Fairbanks; 3) monitor the distributions and abundance of Alaskan flora and fauna; 4) implement a public education and outreach initiative; and 5) develop a summer course about the ecology and natural history of Alaska. The Professorship will support up to 23 students in travel to Alaska for Odyssey credit and provide resources for the development of a summer course that will take another 12-15 students to Alaska as well.

The Margaret Berry Hutton Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Tyrone Jaeger and Professor Maxine Payne for “Audiovisual Arkansas: Citizen Storytellers”:

The objective of AV Arkansas is to produce multimedia stories about Arkansans, with a focus on work, play, and place. Using a combination of audio and text interviews, photographs, moving images, and illustrations, photographer Maxine Payne, writer Tyrone Jaeger, and selected students will collaboratively produce multi-media art projects, including, but not limited to, photographic essays, podcasts, and short films. These works will be presented to the public via a website hosted by Hendrix College and in an exhibition featuring the collaborative work. Working under the supervision of Professors Payne and Jaeger, students will learn to engage with local communities, to search for stories in Arkansas, to produce engaging artworks that foreground story, and to use a wide range of audio and visual editing tools; ultimately building new communities through artistic collaboration. As students learn how to responsibly and artfully tell the stories of others, they will also learn how to tell their own stories. In short, students will develop fluency in multimedia storytelling as they engage with the people and places that make Arkansas.

The Julia Mobley Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Mark Goadrich for “Disco Tray Studios: Founding a Community-Focused Software Development Initiative”: 

Dr. Goadrich will create a community-focused software development initiative at Hendrix called Disco Tray Studios. This project is an outgrowth of his current efforts to empower students in developing interactive educational games and web applications for social good. Disco Tray Studios will provide opportunities for students to execute and complete longer-term software development projects that support the technological needs of their local community. Through partnering and communicating with local nonprofit and educational organizations, students will also build professional leadership skills and gain sought-after career competencies. Leading projects at Disco Tray Studios will allow Dr. Goadrich to immerse in current practices for software engineering, deployment, maintenance, and project management. This real-world experience will inform and improve the course content and learning outcomes of three upper-level computer science courses.

The Charles S. and Lucile Esmon Shivley Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Leslie Templeton ’91 for “The Hendrix Community of Educators Project”: 

This project will provide opportunities for faculty to engage in pedagogy-oriented faculty development programming within a community of colleagues. Faculty will participate in pedagogy-oriented book discussions with colleagues that will allow them to learn about pedagogical techniques and why they’re effective, choose which techniques to implement in their own courses, design a study to assess the impact of those techniques on their students, and present the resulting pedagogical research at a professional meeting. A more intensive semester-long Teaching Cohort will allow faculty participants to redesign elements of a selected course around a particular theme, and then assess the impact of those redesigns on their students’ learning and experience of the course. Faculty-student book discussions will allow students to participate in a community of colleagues at the invitation of faculty members.

The Nancy and Craig Wood Odyssey Professorship to Dr. Gretchen Renshaw James for “Diverse Voices in Music”: 

This project focuses on increasing diversity in the world of classical music, particularly in the areas of wind band and brass instrument performance. Dr. Renshaw will join the effort to invite more diverse voices into this arena by working with the Hendrix College Wind Ensemble to program and commission works by a diverse range of composers. Inviting diverse composers, soloists, and conductors to campus will provide opportunities for students to serve in professional development and leadership roles organizing and managing these complex events. In addition, the Professorship will support Dr. Renshaw’s ongoing professional development as a tuba artist working to expand diversity in the field of brass performance. She will commission new works for solo tuba from composers of diverse backgrounds and record those pieces, along with existing works by diverse composers.

The Odyssey Professorships are an extension of the College’s nationally recognized engaged learning initiative, the Hendrix Odyssey Program. Since 2005, the Hendrix Odyssey Program has required students to complete at least three hands-on learning experiences before they graduate. Students and faculty can apply for funding to support a proposed Odyssey project. The College has awarded more than $4 million in Odyssey grants since the program’s inception.

To learn more about previous Odyssey Professorships and related Odyssey Program student experiences, listen to Odcast, now available on all major podcast platforms.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit