By Kelline Linton, Chief Copy Editor
Each year professors pack their books, close their office doors and wave goodbye to their colleagues as they take off work to study or research on the university’s tab. These faculty members all receive salary for the semester even though they are not teaching at ACU because the university has awarded them faculty renewal leaves.
The purpose of the renewal leave is “to provide a faculty member with a significant period of time to devote to enrichment, reflection, writing and retooling that ultimately leads to higher quality teaching and other forms of scholarship,” according to the ACU Adams Center.
Faculty renewal leaves are contingent on merit and available funding, and no recipient can receive a leave twice in the span of six years.
To be eligible, applicants must be tenured faculty members and have served ACU a minimum of six years.
Dr. Jason Morris, director of the Master’s Program of Higher Education and assistant professor of higher education, applied for and received leave this year after obtaining a Fulbright grant.
A Fulbright grant allows faculty to do teaching and research in overseas settings, and Morris will use his grant to conduct research and lecture in Hungary for five months. Morris will leave early February and travel to the University of Debrecen, where he will give guest lectures and dialogue with students about systems of education. He then will move to Pecs, Hungary to conduct research about a group of students known as Roma, a traditional minority group that has had difficulty integrating into society. Morris plans to analyze success stories about Roma students who have done well in school in the hopes of developing a resilience model that could duplicate such results, he said.
“We’re challenged to change the world, and this task has that potential,” Morris said.
Other faculty who took renewal leaves this fall includes Dr. Michael Sadler, professor of physics; Dr. Jackie Halstead, chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy and associate professor of marriage and family therapy; Dr. Allen Teel, associate professor of music, and Virginia Sadler, associate professor of art and design.
More than five professors obtained renewal leaves last year and used the time for a variety of purposes.
Joseph Cardot, professor and chair of the Department of Communication, used his renewal leave to research the differences between the conflict resolution systems between companies in the United States and companies in Great Britain. On the other side of the coin, Dr. Mark Hamilton, assistant professor of Old Testament in the Graduate School of Theology, worked on writing several books during his free time.
Dr. Qiang Xu, assistant professor of Biology, focused on research during his time away from teaching. Xu and two ACU students, Alexandra Gosnell and Vibul Hun, collected mosquitoes around Abilene and performed experiments on them in the Biology Department’s laboratory during the summer. They tested the insects for diseases and insecticide-resistance levels.
Gosnell, senior biology major from Warsaw, Ill., collected data from health departments around Texas, investigating the different methods and programs used to prevent mosquito overpopulation.
Hun, senior biology major from Sihanoukville, Cambodia, mainly worked in the laboratory as he identified different types of mosquitoes and tested a variety of insecticides and insecticide concentrations on them.
Xu will use all the research results in collaboration with the Health Department of Abilene to develop mosquito control programs that work to limit mosquito outbreaks and overpopulation.
“Mosquito diseases are very dangerous now days; malaria alone kills more than one million people each year,” Xu said. “Research can be very interesting but also very important when applied to the world.”