At President Elizabeth MacLeod Walls’s inauguration Oct. 20, it was announced that four professors at William Jewell College have been selected as endowed chairs. The four newly endowed chairs are Dr. Yuriy Bots, assistant professor of economics; Dr. Debbie Chasteen, professor of communication; Dr. Bhupinder Vohra, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Rose Reynolds, assistant professor and department chair of biology. Six other professors will remain in their current endowed chair positions.
An endowed chair is an honorary position that grants access to special funding from a donor who wants to assist faculty in maintaining the quality of the academic program. The money is typically used for professional development and research.
There are currently 10 endowed chairs. Positions are initially held for a three-year term, and chairs can be re-elected. The other six endowed chairs are Dr. Calvin Permenter, professor of music; Dr. Donna Gardner, professor and department chair of education; Dr. Elaine Reynolds, professor of history; Dr. Mark J. Walters, professor and department chair of English; Dr. Kenneth D. Alpern, professor of philosophy and Senior Tutor of the Oxbridge Honors Program; and Dr. Blane Baker, professor of physics.
In the past, the donations have given chairs an increased capacity for research and career enhancement opportunities, such as conferences.
“I have used the funds primarily to travel to professional meetings such as the American Association of Physics Teachers summer meeting. At those meetings, I have presented scholarly work done with WJC students to improve physics education. Recently, I have used part of the Hilton funds to set up a laboratory to design, develop and test new protective gear for sports such as baseball and football. Several students are working with me on these new efforts,” said Baker.
Bots was awarded the title of John W. Boatwright Professor of Economics endowed chair. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in economics in the Ukraine. He later received another master’s of science and a doctorate of philosophy from Purdue University. Bots is currently working on research focused on the importance of service firms in international trade and differential stock markets’ reactions to various types of mergers.
“I will use the money to travel to more and better specialized conferences that otherwise I won’t be able to afford and to present research to get feedback and make good progress in that field. With extra finances, one could consider attending international conferences,” said Bots.
Chasteen was awarded the A. Major and Dorothy Hull Chair of Communication in Business and Leadership. She earned her doctorate of philosophy from the University of Kansas, a master’s of arts from the University of Central Missouri and a bachelor’s of arts from WJC. She teaches Public Relations, Communication Theory, Interpersonal Communication and a Critical Thought and Inquiry Capstone. She is also the advisor to Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association.
“Since the initial chair is for three years, I am trying to decide how best to use that because I can use it this year or I can use it the next year or the third year. I am planning to go to a conference next year that is more regional. It happens to take place in Omaha, and I go frequently for the central states I am involved in. Some [of] the research interest that I have [are] in public relations and also typically in instructional communication and how we can make communication better for students. So I plan to use the money to travel to this conference and deliver a paper in Omaha and I am hoping that, if I don’t use my funds in the first two years, to be able to go to an international conference because that is much more expensive,” said Chasteen.
Vohra was awarded the Monte Harmon Chair in Biology. He earned his bachelor’s of science in chemistry and biology, a master’s of science in zoology and a doctorate of philosophy in neurobiology of aging from Kurukshaerta University in India. At Jewell, Vohra does research on Parkinson’s disease and whether the early sign of enteric neurodegeneration can be used as an early marker of neurological and neurotoxilcological conditions.
“I will use the money to get more reagents, chemical and biological, and [it] will be used to do more experiments that we cannot do with the limited amount of money we have. I will also be able to buy [a] few more tools for the research,” said Vohra.
Reynolds was awarded the Dr. Burnell Landels Chair in Biology. She earned her doctorate of philosophy in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oregon. At Jewell, she performs research to determine the genetic relationship between the capacity of an organism’s cells to respond to stress and an organism’s lifespan.
“I am going to use [the money] to present my research at a conference and present some of the research that my students have been doing, probably the [conference] offered by the American Aging Association. They have an annual conference in the summer. It is a very nice conference to go to because it is about 160 to 200 of the world’s top experts in biology of aging. I’d really enjoy going to that conference because it focuses enough on basic biology that research like mine and my students’ research would really make a big impact, but there is also an emphasis on translational research,” said Reynolds.