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Keeler Intra-University Professorships awarded to two faculty

Thursday, November 21, 2013

LAWRENCE – University of Kansas faculty Sherrie Tucker, professor in American studies, and Erik Van Vleck, professor in mathematics, have been awarded Keeler Intra-University Professorships for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Keeler Intra-University Professorships provide faculty an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of an academic specialty, to broaden or achieve greater depth in a defined field of study, or to achieve competence in a new area of scholarly endeavor. This should lead to increased collaboration and synergy across disciplines related to one of KU’s four Bold Aspirations strategic initiative themes.

Keeler Professorships have supported faculty development for tenured KU faculty since the early 1980s. The program has been supported through a generous gift of the Keeler family in memory of W.W. Keeler, former president of the KU Alumni Association and a 1930 graduate with a degree in chemical engineering. Keeler served as chief executive officer of Phillips Petroleum Co. from 1968 to 1973, and principal chief of the Cherokee nation from 1949-1975, a position he was originally appointed to by then-President Harry Truman.

Professor Sherrie Tucker will spend the spring 2015 semester in the School of Music to advance her goal of establishing an interdisciplinary Center for Improvisation Studies at KU. Her Keeler Professorship will support coursework in the School of Music, a collaboration with Dan Gailey, director of Jazz Studies, to develop a scholarly conference to be held in conjunction with the KU Jazz Festival in March 2015, and to lay the ground work for a future center. Tucker joined the KU faculty in 2001. She was the 2004-2005 Louis Armstrong Professor at the Center for Jazz Studies, Columbia University.

Tucker noted in her application, “As the only member of the AUIM-KU InterArts not housed in the arts, I am hungry for additional training that would enhance my contributions. I believe that a Center for Improvisation Studies at KU could provide an interdisciplinary hub for scholars, artists and community members. It would assist scholars by developing and using new technologies to stimulate connections across media, disciplines, communities, and social, cultural, institutional and economic barriers.”

Tucker’s proposal contributes to the strategic initiative themes “Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities” and “Harnessing Information, Multiplying Knowledge.”

Professor Erik Van Vleck will spend the spring 2015 semester in the Department of Geography working toward his project “Dynamics and Computation in Atmospheric and Climate Modeling.” His Keeler Professorship will support a research collaboration with professors David Mechem and Johan Feddema in the Department of Geography, a conference or workshop that promotes interaction between atmospheric science and mathematics participants, and pursuit of funding opportunities including at least one proposal submission. Van Vleck joined the KU faculty in 2002. He has held visiting positions at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Material Science and Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In his application, Van Vleck wrote, “I have recently embarked on a research program on mathematical climate modeling. My interests are in model reduction and analysis of the dynamic behavior of the resulting lower dimensional models and in understanding what information this provides for the original climate model and the phenomena being modeled. This is relevant and timely due to the increasing evidence of the possibility of irreversible climate change.”

Van Vleck’s proposal contributes to the strategic initiative themes “Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World” and “Harnessing Information, Multiplying Knowledge.”


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