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Release: Jan. 20, 2000

Maxson names four Dean's Scholars in UI College of Liberal Arts

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Four associate professors in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts have been recognized as Dean's Scholars, an award that honors mid-career faculty members who excel in both teaching and scholarship or creative work. The 1999-2001 Dean's Scholars are Douglas Dion (political science), Karen Heimer (sociology), Kim Marra (theatre arts), and Mary Hall Reno (physics and astronomy).

Dean's Scholars receive a $5,000 discretionary fund for each of two years, which they may use for "any appropriate professional reason," including equipment, travel, supplies, or other support for teaching and research initiatives.

Dean's Scholars are selected by a committee after reviewing application materials submitted by interested tenured associate professors. The committee forwards recommendations to Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, for final approval.

Dean's Scholar awards are made possible through the UI Alumni Association's endowment of the Dean's Chair in the College of Liberal Arts. The endowment, managed by the University of Iowa Foundation, provides funds for the dean to use for special projects within the college.

"These Dean's Scholars, along with the first four Scholars named last year, represent some of the best teachers and mid-career scholars in the college," Maxson said. "I'm pleased to be able to present these awards to recognize excellence and support the professional growth of our faculty members. I'm grateful to the Alumni Association for making these awards possible with its endowment of the Dean's Chair."

Dion will use the award to fund travel as he continues his current work on the Ku Klux Klan. His research examines the political and economic factors influencing the rise of the Klan, going beyond the standard scholarly treatment of the Klan as a response of whites who felt threatened by social changes. Dion says he can complete some of his work without leaving Iowa, but to make his research more robust he needs to gather census data and explore the archives of states where the Klan was strong.

Heimer will begin a research project studying gender differences in crime and delinquency. She is particularly interested in differences across gender in how economic circumstances lead to criminal behavior. She will produce several research papers and eventually a book based on this research. The award will help to fund several aspects of her work, including accessing city-level crime data, some of which is available only at a cost, hiring graduate research assistants, and purchasing sensitive audio recording equipment for conducting interviews. Heimer said she plans to develop new undergraduate and graduate courses on the topic of women and crime based on this research.

Marra's award will help to fund a research trip to New York to examine archival materials and select photographs necessary for completing her book, "Taming American Actresses: Male Impresarios, Female Stars, and Theatrical Frontier Conquests, 1865-1930." The book examines relationships between four of the most powerful and influential impresarios of the era and the primary leading ladies with whom they rose to fame. Most of the materials she needs to complete the book are housed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Museum of the City of New York. She plans a two-week trip to study these materials, which she will later integrate into electronic presentations for her theatre history courses.

Reno plans to use the award to bring visitors to the UI and to travel to meet with collaborators and attend conferences and workshops. Her work in theoretical elementary particle physics is focused on neutrino production, interaction, and detection, with a goal of developing tests that attempt to verify recent experimental results suggesting neutrinos are massive. Reno is the only member of the department doing research in this area, and a great deal of her scholarly work involves collaborations with scientists at other universities. In addition to her own travel, Reno says she would like to help other researchers travel to the UI to give seminars, allowing students and faculty to hear first hand about the latest research in the field of particle physics.