part of a competitive process to fund specific, term-limited projects
CONWAY, Arkansas (November 15, 2023) – The Hendrix College
Office of Engaged Learning announced recently that Odyssey Professorships have
been awarded to three members of the Hendrix College faculty. The terms for
these awards will begin on June 1, 2024.
Odyssey Professorships demonstrate Hendrix’s commitment to investing in the
professional development of our faculty and in providing engaged learning for
students. As a result of this year’s projects, students will be immersed in
local and global issues related to the environment and global governance,” said
Associate Provost for Engaged Learning and Professor of Politics Dr. Kiril
Kolev. “They will participate in, and benefit from, a reimagined curriculum that
is sensitive to student needs and provides a greater emphasis on links across
the disciplines. They all illustrate the unique ability of the liberal arts to
engage and inspire us in and out of the classroom.”
Odyssey Professorships are an extension of the Hendrix
Odyssey Program, the College’s nationally recognized engaged learning
initiative for students. Individual faculty members or small groups of faculty
members may apply on a competitive basis for the professorships, which carry an
endowment to support faculty projects that create new engaged learning
opportunities, such as undergraduate research, for students. Faculty proposals
are recommended by the Committee on Faculty and approved by the President.
Odyssey Professorships are usually held for a period of two to three years.
The newly awarded professorships are:
Introductory Biology Reimagined: Engaging
Students Where and How it Matters!
Dr. Laura MacDonald ’09, Department of Biology, recipient
of the Charles S. and Lucile Esmon Shivley Professorship (2024-2027)
Through this Odyssey Professorship, entry into biology will
be reimagined to meet today’s students’ needs, talents, and interests. Faculty
nationwide have been responding to recent shifts in education driven by the
COVID-19 pandemic, artificial intelligence, social-political context, and
national calls to reform biology education to be more inclusive and authentic
to problems scientists address today. The result has been an explosion in the
availability of new materials, curricula, and pedagogy. However, the impact of
those materials at the introductory level is debatable, as instructors wrestle
with how to balance content with teaching practices that foster meaning for
students with a limited blueprint for how those goals might be accomplished.
Through this professorship, a new model for introductory biology education will
be developed that centers on providing students with approaches to evaluate the
validity of now widely available scientific content and data, consider when and
how it should be applied to socially relevant problems, and approach scientific
knowledge with an understanding of how it relates to social context and
For the Birds: Avian Conservation through
Research, Service, and Education
Dr. Maureen McClung ’01, Department of Biology,
recipient of the Judy and Randy Wilbourn Professorship (2024-2027)
Birds have long captured humankind’s attention with their
colorful plumage, enchanting songs, and impressive feats of migration.
Unfortunately, like many other species, bird numbers have plummeted in the last
couple of centuries because of human-caused threats to biodiversity. In this
professorship, McClung and students will engage with this issue through bird
banding research, science-based service projects, and course-based experiences.
Projects include banding birds at Stone Prairie Wildlife Management Area and
the Hendrix Creek Preserve, surveying campus buildings for window strikes with
an aim to reduce hazards, developing a natural history teaching collection of
avian specimens, surveying Lake Conway for changes in bird populations during
the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission renovation project, and launching an
advanced Field Ornithology course that includes a spring break field trip to
Costa Rica. Ultimately, this professorship will generate data for conservation
science, recommendations for actionable change, and bring awareness to new
generations of Hendrix students and the broader community about the joy of
birds and how we can protect them.
Dr. Daniel Edquist-Whelan, Department of Politics,
recipient of the Charles Prentiss Hough Professorship (2024-2025)
First, in conjunction with coursework, the largest component of
this professorship will support approximately 22 students to attend the 2024
American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference in Chicago. Second is an
Odyssey grant mechanism for value-added projects carried out by Hendrix
students who study abroad, to pursue global awareness and engagement activities
to prepare them for successful applications to the Fulbright Student Program.
Third, the Professorship will allow Edquist-Whelan to finalize a book on human
rights and development, including support for a student research assistant.
About Hendrix College
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured
in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think
About Colleges and celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges
for academic quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation,
vibrant campus life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA
Division III sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist
Church since 1884. Learn more at www.hendrix.edu.
“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and
a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the
Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity,
service, and joy.” —Hendrix
College Statement of Purpose