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3 professors awarded time off to pursue scholarly work

Following a five-year absence due to budget cuts, Austin Peay State University has reinstated its Faculty Professional Development Assignment award program that will allow three faculty members to take a leave of absence to pursue scholarly work.

The three faculty members granted released time from the Spring 2007 semester for research are Dr. Matthew Kenney, associate professor of political science; Dr. Albert Randall, professor of philosophy; and Gregg Schlanger, professor of art.
Following a five-year absence due to budget cuts, Austin Peay State University has reinstated its Faculty Professional Development Assignment award program that will allow three faculty members to take a leave of absence to pursue scholarly work.

The three faculty members granted released time from the Spring 2007 semester for research are Dr. Matthew Kenney, associate professor of political science; Dr. Albert Randall, professor of philosophy; and Gregg Schlanger, professor of art.

Dr. Bruce Speck, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said eight faculty members applied for the awards. To be eligible for a faculty professional development assignment, an applicant must be an associate professor or professor, a tenured member of the full-time teaching faculty for seven years at Austin Peay and demonstrate scholarly or creative performance in the faculty member's discipline.

Kenney — who specializes in international and comparative politics, especially those of Latin America — will conduct research in San Pedro Chenalho, a rural community in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

His research project, titled “Confronting Injustice: Oral Histories as a Pathway to Peace,” will use in-depth interviews of members of the Tsotsil ethnic group, Mayan Indians in Chiapas who have lived under conditions of extreme poverty and political repression for more than five centuries. When completed, Kenney's work will coincide with the 10-year anniversary of a politically motivated massacre in San Pedro Chenalho.

“By focusing on the stories and accounts of those most affected by this massacre, I expect to gain insights into the community's attempts to reconcile itself to recent political violence and build upon it in positive ways for current and future generations,” Kenney said. “Such insights will have useful applications to conflict-ridden communities in other parts of the world.”

Randall, for more than 30 years, has taught courses and given community lectures on Islam. Since 9/11, he has provided training sessions to various brigades at Fort Campbell on Islam and the Middle East prior to their deployments to Iraq.

Central to the lectures is exploring the dangers and potential for violence in the scriptural doctrines of inerrancy and literalism. The two doctrines will be the focus of Randall's new book, titled “The ‘It's in the Book Game': Making Idols of ScriptureThe Spiritual, Moral and Logical Dangers of Inerrancy and Literalism,” a follow-up to his last book, “Strangers on the Shore: The Beatitudes in World Religions” published by Peter Lang Press in 2006.

“The major purpose of the new book is to examine these two doctrines and their uses by religious extremistsuses that allow extremists to distort the fundamental spiritual messages in the Bible and the Quran,” Randall said.

With about half of the research already completed, Randall plans to have a first draft of the new book completed in May 2007.

Schlanger will be working on a public art commission for the city of Memphis and preliminary studio work for an exhibit in Potsdam, Germany. Also next semester, he will be pursuing additional opportunities in the field of public art.

Schlanger was commissioned by the city of Memphis for a $75,000 art project, expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.

“This is a community-based project that requires many meetings with the people in the neighborhood where the work is to be located,” Schlanger said. “I will travel to Memphis many times during the spring semester. With this project I am expanding the development of my creative work into the area of public art, a field I have researched for many years.”

Schlanger also has been invited to exhibit his work at the Kunsthaus Potsdam in Germany during the summer. In 1993, Schlanger had an exhibit in Potsdam as part of the city's 1,000-year birthday celebration. Next semester, he will be working in the studio to prepare for the summer exhibit.

For more information about the Faculty Professional Development Assignment awards, contact the Office of Academic Affairs by telephone at (931) 221-7676. -- Melony Leazer