Summer 2006


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No Needles Required
Wichita State’s College of Health Professions has introduced a new  bachelor’s degree. “No needles required,” says Rick Muma, associate professor and chair of the college’s physician assistant program, about the Health Services Management and Community Development degree.

Janet Brandes, an instructor and educational program coordinator, describes the new undergraduate degree as being “ideal for someone who’s interested in healthcare and has a passion for improving the healthcare system but really isn’t interested in direct patient care.” HSM/CD students could also take administration courses and work toward licensure for nursing home administration, Brandes suggests, or they could easily progress into a graduate program in public health, business administration or public administration.

Administered through WSU’s physician assistant department, the degree is specifically targeted to health management and community development professionals.

Amazing Space Adventure

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Randall Chambers, WSU distinguished professor emeritus of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and his wife, Mary, have written Getting off the Planet, which tells the story of Randall’s work in training America’s first astronauts. Mary, a former journalist, did most of the writing so nonscientists could have a “simpler version of this amazing space adventure” than her scientist husband might provide.

The story is a firsthand account of Randall’s job as head of the human engineering division of the U.S. Navy’s Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory in Pennsylvania. His team researched, designed and invented materials to help astronauts train for and function in space.

An earlier book written by Mary about his experiences in the space program, Don’t Launch Him — He’s Mine!, was condensed in Reader’s Digest to coincide with Neil Armstrong’s pioneering walk on the moon in 1969.

Randall taught at Wichita State from 1988 until his retirement in 1996. The book retails for $18.95 and is available at  the University Bookstore or through amazon.com.

New Notes
WSU’s fall-semester, music-faculty roster will reflect some key arrivals and departures.

J. William “Bill” Thomson ’63/65, professor and School of Music chair, retires this year after 30 years at WSU. Julie Bees, professor of piano and director of WSU’s Wolff-Bing Chamber Music Endowment, will serve as interim chair for the school until a permanent replacement for Thomson is appointed. Her involvement at Wichita State has included coordinating the College of Fine Arts Connoisseur Series and guest artist recitals.

Mark Andrew Laycock has been appointed director of orchestras, coming from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where he was also principal conductor of the Irvine Chamber Players youth orchestra. Previously, he was director of orchestra activities at Iowa State University and music director and conductor of the Central Iowa Symphony.

Lynne Davis, a top concert organist in Europe and North America, has been appointed to fill the Dennis and Ann Ross Faculty of Distinction Professorship in organ. Originally from Lansing, Mich., Davis served as professor of organ at the conservatory in Caen, France, where she has lived and worked for the past 30 years. Her career began in England in 1975 when she won first prize at the esteemed St. Albans International Competition. Davis fills the seat vacated by Robert Town, who retired this year after 41 years of teaching at WSU.

And Don Duncan ’87 will teach trumpet until a permanent replacement can be found for associate professor Judith Saxton.

Letter from Malaysia
“This is Deik-Lim Lai, the president of the Wichita State University Alumni Association Malaysia (PAWSUM).

“The main reason that I am writing is to update you on our activities. Lately, the spirit of Go Shockers! peaked among us back in Malaysia, following our basketball team’s historical advance to the Sweet 16. We talked about it a lot, in the Yahoo Group discussion forum that I created some time ago. Some of us even woke up in the middle of the night to watch the matches via NCAA Web TV.

“Not only that we have been quite active among ourselves, but also in the activities organised by American Universities Alumni Malaysia. AUAM acts as an umbrella for all the American university alumni associations in Malaysia, under which we also play a role in promoting WSU.

“Best regards.”

Start Your Engines
Gleanings illustrationA team of WSU engineering students plans to race against teams from more than 70 other universities in the annual Formula SAE West road-racing competition at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Oscar Garcia and Garrett Duncan, team co-captains, and their teammates are the first group of WSU students to participate in the competition, a program sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The competitors will race Formula cars of their building, which differ from the vehicles of the SAE Mini-Baja competition, the traditional race of choice for Wichita State students.

Participation on a team can mean the difference in future employment for some student engineers. “It’s a major advantage to compete in Formula SAE,” Garcia says. “Some companies have gotten to the point where they’ll only hire students who participated.”

The team received $30,000 from Student Government Association and secured sponsorships from Learjet, Keller Radiator, Atlas Spring and Axle, and Globe Engineering.

Observatory Turns 25
Gleanings illustrationLake Afton Public Observatory celebrated its silver anniversary June 16 and 17 with a special viewing of Saturn and Jupiter, the first objects seen through the observatory’s 16-inch reflecting telescope.

Set up in 1979 through the cooperation of four local units of government, the observatory was constructed and equipped with funding provided by Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita.

Through 1994, the majority of the observatory’s operating funds were shared equally by the Wichita Board of Education and WSU. Since then the observatory has been operated by WSU’s Fairmount Center for Science and Mathematics Education, with additional funds from Sedgwick County for facilities.

WSU Trustees
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has reappointed three members to three-year terms on the WSU Board of Trustees: J.V. Lentell, Anthony Madrigal and Arneatha Martin.

The nine-member board oversees the spending of tax funds that WSU receives from the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County and the endowments and income from enterprises such as the university’s Braeburn Golf Course.

Mrs. Kansas

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Crowned Mrs. Kansas United States April 30 in Joplin, Mo., WSU's Kim McDowell will vie for the national title July 26-27 in Las Vegas.

McDowell, an assistant professor, teaches in the curriculum and instruction department of the College of Education. Her expertise in early childhood education and communication sciences and disorders led to her platform for the contest: early intervention for children at academic risk due to communication impairment or poverty.

Prized Poetry in Translation
Wilson Baldridge (see “The Thought Behind…” in the fall 2005 issue of The Shocker), an associate professor of French at WSU, has accepted the 2006 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for his translation of Michel Deguy’s collection of poems, Recumbents. The book, which includes both Deguy’s original works and Baldridge’s translations, is the first book-length English translation of Deguy’s critically acclaimed work.

Fulbright Scholar
Mark O’Connor ’06 has received a Fulbright scholarship to evaluate the HIV/AIDS network in Malaysia starting in September.

“My objective,” he explains, “is to be a resource for HIV organizations, and provide a clear line of communication, as well as information to those who work in the industry. My role is definitely not to go to Malaysia and instruct the locals how to perform their jobs. I hope to learn how to perform my job within their cultural and social parameters and apply my services and tools to each organization independently.”

As a WSU student, O’Connor spent two semesters in Central America, one semester in Europe and four in Africa, where he worked with several Fulbright Scholars, all of whom encouraged him to apply for a scholarship. When he returned to the United States, he designed his proposal, “Malaysia: On the Brink,” with the help of more than five WSU faculty members. His research will be completed in April 2007.


Archival Gold

Albert Goldbarth, distinguished professor of humanities at Wichita State, is among America’s most respected living poets.

Points of Discovery

Amber Hardin and Jerry Elmore spent a good number of hours this spring semester on display, as it were.

Award-Winning Entrepreneurial Venturers

Wichita State’s Students in Free Enterprise Team became a regional champ in Denver, Colo., on March 29.


These Gleanings entries survey the current university scene and feature original illustrations by Scott Dawson ’86.