July 2013

Idaho International Choral Festival Held in July

Photo of Scott Anderson

The Idaho International Choral Festival, held in Pocatello every three years, is one of only four continuing international choral festivals in the United States. This year marked the seventh time this event has been held in Pocatello. The purpose of the festival is to unite and promote the common cause of bringing cultural diversity and wonderful music together. The Festival organizers believe that through the universal language of music all people throughout the world can come together in friendship and understanding. Each member of the festival committee is devoted to promoting music, the arts and cultural diversity, and believes that peace in the world can only be attained by breaking down barriers of misunderstanding and eliminating the ignorance of stereotypes.

The concept for the festival began during an Idaho State University Choir tour of Europe in 1996. There, after speaking with a director of the organization that put together the festival in Europe about the purpose of the program, Vernae Buck (now alum of the Arts & Letters music program) felt inspired to bring a festival to Pocatello. Along with Scott Anderson (ISU's director of choral activities), they were able to find sponsors to create the festival which has been an asset to the community ever since the first festival was held in 1999.

This year's festival included choirs from Switzerland, Australia, Republic of Georgia, Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, China, and the United States. Many of these choirs represent international choral competition winners and have impressive lists of recordings with significant contemporary choral composers. Along with performing on and around the ISU campus, the participants enjoyed dances, workshops, choir practices, picnics, swimming excursions, visits to local areas of interest, and other social activities meant not only to break the ice but also to bridge the cultural divide between the participants.

New Emeritus Faculty Honored at Commencement

Four exceptional faculty members retired and joined the ranks of our esteemed emeritus faculty. In all, they have honorably served the students of ISU for a combined 112 years. Two have served as department chairs, two as program directors, and one has earned the recognition of winning all three distinguished faculty awards. These retiring faculty were honored at commencement ceremonies in May.

photo of Alan Christelow

Dr. Alan Christelow served as the Chair of the History Department for two terms and was single-handedly responsible for integrating global studies into the History Department's curriculum. He shared his passion for Middle Eastern History with ISU students for 30 years.



photo of Tim Frazier

Prof. Tim Frazier was a long-standing member of the Mass Communication Department. His work as a photographer is highly recognized by local, regional, and national professionals. ISU students have benefitted from his eye for creativity and his enthusiasm for photography for 26 years.



photo of Ann Hunter

Dr. Ann Hunter was a member of the sociology faculty at ISU since 1991. During her time at ISU, she served as Chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice; Facilitator for the Department of Economics; an original member of the College's Executive Committee; and most recently as a member of the University's Special Budget Consultation Committee. There is no question that she has had a lasting impact on her students, her department, and our College. Her 22 years of commitment to the success of ISU is truly appreciated by all.

photo of Susan Swetnam

Dr. Susan Swetnan is among the most highly regarded and recognized faculty members in the history of ISU. She is the only faculty member to be recognized as the Distinguished Teacher, Distinguished Researcher, and Distinguished Public Servant. Dr. Swetnam is passionate about the Academy and the opportunities it affords our students. She demonstrated that commitment this last year by serving as the Chair the General Education Requirements Committee, which oversaw a major revision in general education requirements. As with everything she undertakes, Dr. Swetnam invested much of herself to ensure that students have a meaningful general education experience that has value and that fosters the development of skills needed for success at ISU and in life. After 34 years of service to ISU, Dr. Swetnam will become an emerita faculty member and will likely be even more productive.

Recent Faculty Awards

The following three faculty members have just completed their first year at ISU. Each one has received an external award during the past couple of months.

photo of Naomi Adams

Naomi S. Adams, assistant professor of art and fiber media, received the "Beyond the Boundaries" award from the Duality from Surface Design Association for artistic innovation last month for her artwork. Her artwork was on display in the member's exhibition of the 17th International Conference of the Surface Design Association, "In*ter*face." This year's exhibition, "Connections," included over 130 pieces of textile works created by artists from all over the globe that utilize diverse media and textile techniques. This new $250 award is sponsored by California Fibers, a California arts organization with a rich 40-year history. The "Connections" exhibit ran from June 5-26 at the Say Si Gallery in San Antonio, Texas. Regarding the award, Adams stated, "I am grateful to be recognized in this amazing group of fiber artists."

In 2011, at the Surface Design Association Confluence Conference in Minneapolis, MN, Naomi was the recipient of a 2nd place award at the Student Show for her work, "Envy." In 2010, she was also a recipient of the Surface Design Association's Graduate Student Creative Promise Award for Student Excellence. Naomi's current research interests include bodies of work of both reconstructed art quilt compositions and artist's books.

photo of Jeehoon Kim

Dr. Jeehoon Kim, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, along with Dr. Hee Yun Lee of the University of Minnesota presented two posters at the 20th International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics conference June 23-27, in Coex, Seoul, South Korea. Their poster entitled, "Do different types of participation in activities matter in improving health and mental health outcomes among older cancer survivors," was selected as one of best posters, with outstanding recognition.

Using the data from the first round of 2011 National Health and Aging Trend Study, Professors Kim and Lee have found that different types of activities were associated with older cancer survivors' health and depression. Their findings imply that online technology use can be a medium to promote health among older cancer survivors. They also found that social activities participation is important for older cancer survivors to maintain their mental health. Dr. Kim's areas of interests are caregiving and health promotion for older adults, including online technology use and participation in social and physical activities.

photo of Joshua Weller

Dr. Joshua Weller, assistant professor of psychology, has been awarded a Visiting Scholar award to spend the summer of 2013 at the University of Verona, Italy. With faculty and students at the University of Verona, he will be conducting research that investigates how individual differences in rationality are associated with how people perceive risks associated with behaviors that may impact one's health.

Dr. Weller's research interests broadly focus on cognitive and affective influences on how people perceive risks in the environment and their subsequent choices when faced with uncertain outcomes. Dr. Weller has investigated how the ability to make advantageous choices when risks are present develops in childhood and why it may decline in some older adults. To complement behavioral differences in risk-taking, he has also examined neurobiological correlates of risk-taking by studying decision-making capabilities in patients with focal brain lesions to areas of the prefrontal cortex. Recently at ISU (with support from the College of Arts & Letters and the University Research Council), he has been conducting research that investigates how the neuroendocrinal effects of acute stress may impact risk-taking.

It was his research on individual differences in risk perceptions and decision-making, however, that led him to Verona this summer. Last year, Andrea Ceschi (a graduate student at the University of Verona), came to work with Dr. Weller to develop a project related to individual differences in "decision-making competence," or the tendency to avoid logical errors in reasoning. In January, Andrea and his advisor, Dr. Riccardo Sartori, invited Dr. Weller to apply for a Visiting Scholar award to build upon this project, using an Italian sample. The team has subsequently developed a study that examines how decision-making competence may be associated with risk perceptions of activities such as mobile phone use while driving and substance use. Also, during his time in Italy, Dr. Weller will visit with colleagues at the University of Florence and will give an invited talk at the University of Trieste on risky decision making. He will finish his summer journey in Barcelona, Spain, where he will be presenting his research at the biennial meeting of the European Academy of Decision Making.

Dr. Weller is no stranger to developing research projects overseas. He is an active member of the European Academy of Decision Making and has a long history of international collaborations, working with researchers from the Netherlands, Spain, England, Sweden, and Italy. "Working with people from other countries opens you up to new ideas and a greater appreciation for the world around you," he raved. "Plus, it's about as much fun as one can have while working!"

Huge Growth in Online Course Offerings

Photo of Kevin Marsh

Various groups that track changes in higher education are reporting an exponential growth in the number of students who are taking courses online nationally. EDTECH magazine in its spring 2013 issue quotes a Babson Survey Research Group report (January 2013) that the number of students who enrolled in at least one online course grew to 6.7 million in fall semester 2011, an increase of nearly 9 percent over the previous year

In the College of Arts & Letters, our increase in online offerings and student response rate has also been meteoric. From fall 2010 to fall 2012, the number of online course offerings more than quadrupled from 13 (11, general education; 2, non-general education) to 66 (41, general education; 25, non-general education), and headcount increased by 230 percent (739 to 2439). In fall 2013, the College has scheduled more than 80 online sections of courses, and we expect another substantial increase in the number of students who enroll in them.

Students indicate that they appreciate the flexibility for study and a decrease in travel time that online courses offer them. One of the most direct impacts on student progression to degrees of these dramatic increases is reflected in the fact that with the exception of a one-credit laboratory experience in the sciences, a student can earn an Associate's Degree in General Studies by taking online coursework. In our own College, every program offers at least one course in online format.

As one would expect, this dramatic increase in the numbers of sections and the corresponding response from students has not been without its challenges. Faculty are determined to assure that student learning in online sections is at least comparable to traditionally-delivered coursework, and technology is developing so rapidly that it is frequently difficult to discern "best practices" for delivery and assessment in these courses. ISU has implemented a "Quality Matters" initiative to address many of these issues, and the College of Arts & Letters has developed a pilot program to test the viability of mobile technology in order to stimulate interactive learning and testing integrity. (Stay tuned for more details concerning the details of this pilot program.)

New Faculty for 2013-14

The College is pleased to welcome nine new faculty members for the new academic year.

Photo of Laura Ahola-Young

Laura Ahola-Young, assistant professor of art, earned the M.F.A. degree from San Jose State University with an emphasis in pictorial arts. She has taught as an adjunct instructor at Lane Community College (Oregon), St. Cloud State University (Minnesota), and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.



Photo of Jeffrey Callen

Jeffrey Callen, assistant professor of political science, earned the Ph.D. degree from Arizona State University with an emphasis in public administration. He came to ISU last year as a visiting assistant professor and was offered the tenure-track position after a national search.



Photo of Grant Harville

Grant Harville, assistant professor of music, earned the D.M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an emphasis in orchestral conducting. He will direct the Idaho State Civic Symphony and the ISU Chamber Orchestra. He served previously as the associate conductor and creative director for the Georgia Symphony Orchestra (Kennesaw, Georgia).



Photo of Daniel Hummel

Daniel Hummel, assistant professor of political science, earned the Ph.D. degree from Florida Atlantic University with an emphasis in public administration. His research interests include financially stressed municipalities and the means these municipalities use to deal with this stress.


Photo of Terry Ownby

Terry Ownby, assistant professor of mass communication, earned the Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University with an emphasis in visual media. Previously, he held a position as assistant professor of photography at the University of Central Missouri.



Photo of Trina Running

Katrina Running, assistant professor of sociology, earned the Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona. Her research interests include environmental sociology and global and transnational sociology.



Photo of Mona Xu

Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, assistant professor of psychology, earned the Ph.D. degree from Stony Brook University with an emphasis in social and health psychology. For the past two years, she has held a postdoctoral research fellowship at Brown University. Her research focuses on how social processes and close relationships influence behavioral health.


Photo of Yolonda Youngs

Yolonda Youngs, assistant professor of history, earned the Ph.D. degree from Arizona State University with an emphasis in geography. She came to ISU last year as a visiting assistant professor and was offered the tenure-track position after a national search. Previously, she held a position as a visiting assistant professor of geography at Oklahoma State University.


Photo of Amanda Zink

Amanda Zink, assistant professor of English, earned the Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois. Her research interests include multi-ethnic and multi-racial American literature and nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American women's writing. Previously, she taught online courses as an instructor at Olivet Nazarene University (Illinois).


Photo of Robert Edsall Photo of Nobel Ang

In addition, the College is pleased to welcome Nobel Ang as a visiting assistant professor of philosophy and Robert Edsall as a visiting assistant professor of history.



Spotlight on Anthony Taguba

Photo of Tony Taguba

Most people who have heard of Tony Taguba only know about one dramatic episode of his life. But before his name became associated with a global news event, Taguba worked hard to come from a humble upbringing to achieve a successful military career.

Growing up in Hawaii might sound like paradise to many, but Taguba remembers the struggles his family faced trying to provide for seven children. "I wanted more in my life besides growing up on an island," Taguba said.

While a high school student in Hawaii, Taguba fulfilled a school requirement to serve in in the Army's JROTC program. His father was a sergeant in the U.S. Army as well, and the experiences and examples influenced his decision to join the Army full-time.

Setting his sights on Idaho State University opened a path where he became the first college graduate in his family and achieved notable success in a military career. Taguba was the second American citizen of Philippine birth to be promoted to general officer rank in the Army. He selected Idaho State because he believed it would give him the social and academic experience he needed.

"Life in Pocatello was not the same as life in Hawaii," Taguba said. "I became independent and responsible without daily parental guidance. It gave me a sense of discipline while being assimilated into a diverse environment away from home and enjoying the social aspects of a rural conservative community." He earned the bachelor's degree in history from ISU in 1972.

Taguba came to international attention when an internal U.S. Army report detailing detainee abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was leaked in 2004. Taguba was the author. The Army's senior officer in Iraq appointed Taguba to conduct an investigation and produce a report. Taguba's findings on the conduct of the 800th Military Police Brigade were widely reported and fueled an international debate about the appropriate treatment of detainees.

After retiring as a major general in 2007, Taguba has dedicated more of his time and effort to worthy causes. "Young men and women inspire me - high school and college students, young men and women in the military, immigrants coming to this country and finding a better way of life as I experienced as a young man," he said. "They are energetic, vibrant, innovative, progressive, and they want to find success in realistic ways." Taguba co-founded Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a program committed to providing leadership development through mentoring for military and civilian professionals and college and high school students. He volunteers with the United Services Organizations and helps raise college scholarship funds with the University of Maryland. He also volunteers to help veterans with their benefits and compensation needs.

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