Here is the schedule of classes and events at this year’s Mini College. We hope you’ll agree it’s one of the best in our 11-year history.
Most classes will meet in the Commons at Spooner Hall. A few will convene in the Room 3 West Reading Room at Watson Library, in the Natural History Museum at Dyche Hall, or elsewhere. In several cases, you’ll have your choice of two presentations.
Monday, June 3
7:45 a.m. – Registration opens at Spooner.
8 a.m. (Spooner) – Doors open to the Commons. Coffee and pastries will be served, compliments of the School of Engineering.
8:30 a.m. – Opening remarks.
8:45 – 10 a.m. (Commons) — Arvin Agah, dean of engineering, “Autonomous Mobile Robots.” Agah’s research focuses on applied artificial intelligence and mobile robotics. He has been a co-investigator on research grants totaling more than $33 million. From 2007 to 2012, he was laboratory director of the Intelligent Systems Lab at KU’s Information & Telecommunication Technology Center. Agah was named Engineering School dean in January. He had been serving as interim dean of the school since July 2018. Agah has been a member of the KU Engineering leadership team since September 2012, when he was selected to be associate dean for research and graduate programs. He has been on the KU faculty since 1997, and he has served as associate chair for graduate studies for the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. He is a prolific author and the editor of three books.
10:20 – 11:35 a.m.
Option 1 (Commons): Dr. Sarah Kirk, “A Tour of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” Dr. Kirk is the director of the KU Psychological Clinic and assistant director of clinical training in the Clinical Psychology Program. She also has been a practicing psychologist in the KU Psychological Clinic since 2005, specializing in autistic spectrum disorder, anxiety disorders and complex medical problems. She supervises graduate students in the clinical psychology graduate program and teaches graduate-level coursework.
Option 2 (Watson): Assistant Prof. Teri Finneman, “Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s-2000s.” Finneman is an assistant professor in KU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She previously worked as a print journalist and multimedia correspondent covering state government, business and enterprise. Her research focuses on news coverage of U.S. first ladies and women politicians. She also conducts research related to media ethics, journalism history and oral history. She is the author of “Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s-2000s,” which was named a 2016 finalist for the Frank Luther Mott – Kappa Tau Alpha book award for best research-based book about journalism or mass communication. Her documentary, “Newspaper Pioneers: The Story of the North Dakota Press,” premiered in 2017.
11:50 a.m. – Board buses for the Ekdahl Dining Commons (Mrs. E’s) on Daisy Hill for lunch. (Note: Lunch will cost $10.50, or you can bring your own.)
1:15 p.m. – Board buses for tours of Cora Downs Residence Hall and Stouffer Place Apartments.
3:15 p.m. (Panorama, Natural History Museum) — Dr. David Burnham, “The Quest for T. Rex.” In June, paleontologist David Burnham will pack up the shovels, picks, glue and plaster he’ll use as he returns to the eastern Montana badlands to look for more T. Rex fossil material to bring home to KU. For several years, Prof. Burnham has spent part of each summer guiding an ever-changing roster of students, staff and volunteers in the fossil quest. He’ll talk about what they’ve found so far and what makes this dinosaur so interesting to research. Dr. Burnham holds BS and master’s degrees from the University of New Orleans and a Ph.D. from KU’s Geology Department.
Tuesday, June 4
8 a.m. (Watson) – Doors open to Room 3 West. Coffee and pastries will be served.
8:30 a.m. (Watson) – Preliminary remarks.
8:45 – 10 a.m. (Watson) — Kevin Smith, dean of KU libraries, “What’s Happening to Libraries in the Digital Age?” Smith became the dean of libraries and courtesy professor of law at KU in May 2016 after 10 years as director of copyright and scholarly communications at the Duke University libraries. As both a librarian and a lawyer specializing in intellectual property issues, Smith’s role at Duke was to advise faculty, staff, and students about the impact of copyright, licensing, and the changing nature of scholarly publishing in higher education. Prior to that, Dean Smith was director of the Pilgrim Library at Defiance College in Ohio, where he also taught constitutional law. He also has taught courses in theology and library science. He is the author of numerous articles on the impact of copyright law and the Internet on scholarly research.
10:20 – 11:35 a.m.
Option 1 (Commons) — Jim Peters, “The Underground Railroad in Northeast Kansas.” During the mid-19th century, the Underground Railroad was a critical network of routes and safe houses that provided escaped slaves a pathway from plantations in the South to freedom in the North or Canada. Peters will describe the important role Northeast Kansas played in it. Peters has been director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU since 2012. Prior to that, he served as the University’s director of professional programs and communications for seven years. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and the New England School of Law. In addition to heading the Osher Institute, he teaches several history courses and is author of “Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America’s Heroes.”
Option 2 (Watson) — Associate Prof. Matthew Burke, leading a panel discussion on “Art at the Intersection of Science.” Prof. Burke teaches sculpture, foundation and drawings courses, as well as courses in art and ecology at KU. His creative research ranges from the production of sculpture and drawing to large-scale, eco-based installations that integrate site, structure, and viewer. Burke received his BA degree from Colby College in Maine and his MFA degree in sculpture from Queens College, CUNY. He has had numerous solo and group shows including PS1 MoMA in Queens, NY, the Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. His work is in several major museums and collections including the Museum of Modern Art Library and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Other panelists will be Robert Hickerson and Rena Detrishe (artist).
Noon – 1 p.m. (Commons) – Attendees are invited to bring a lunch and discuss the possibility of setting up an endowed fund for Mini College.
1:05 – 2:35 p.m.
Option 1 (Natural History Museum) – Tour of the bird and fish collections in the Biodiversity Institute, led by collection managers Mark Robbins (birds) and Andy Bentley (fish). (This tour is limited to 30 people due to space restrictions.)
Robbins is an evolutionary biologist and has been a collection manager of two major ornithological collections over the past 33 years. The initial 11 years were at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and since 1993, he has been at the Biodiversity Institute.
Bentley is the bioinformatics manager for the Biodiversity Institute and usability lead for a collections management software project. He served as president of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections from 2013 to 2018.
Group A (15 students) – Ornithology with Robbins 1:05-1:50 p.m., followed by ichthyology with Bentley, 1:50-2:35 p.m. Group B (15 students) – Ichthyology with Bentley, 1:05-1:50, followed by ornithology with Robbins, 1:50-2:35.
Option 2 (Commons) — Associate Prof. Genelle Belmas, “Free Speech and the First Amendment.” Prof. Belmas heads the journalism concentration in the School of Journalism’s Department of Communications. Before that, she was at California State University, Fullerton. She teaches media law, media ethics, communications technology and computer-assisted reporting. Her research primarily focuses on media law. Her work has appeared in the Yale Journal of Online Law and Technology, the Federal Communications Law Journal, and Communications Law and Policy, among others, and has been cited by several appellate courts. She is the author of a media law textbook, “Major Principles of Media Law.” Prof. Belmas has BA degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin, an MA in political science from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.
3 – 4:15 p.m. (Commons) — Associate Prof. Raymond Pierotti and Brandy Fogg, “How Humans and Wolves Co-evolved.” Prof. Pierotti and his associate, former KU student Brandy Fogg, are the authors of a book in which they argue passionately that Western tradition and folk tales have for centuries unfairly and ignorantly demonized wolves. In fact, they say, indigenous people of North America, Australia and Asia tend to hail the wolf as a creator figure that taught humans to hunt, survive and thrive.
Prof. Pierotti holds a Ph.D. degree in biology from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has taught at KU since 1992. Prior to that, he was on the adjunct faculty at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence. Brandy Fogg holds an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in indigenous studies, both from KU. While at KU she was vice-president of the Black Student Union and a delegate to the Big XII Council on Black Student Government. She currently is an analyst for an engineering and technology firm and lives in Lawrence.
6 p.m. – Pizza party at the Adams Alumni Center. Free pizza, cash bar.
Wednesday, June 5
8 a.m. (Spooner) – Doors open to the Commons. Coffee and pastries will be served.
8:45 – 10 a.m. (Commons) — Coach Andrea Hudy, “Technology in the Weight Room.” Assistant Athletic Director Hudy is the nationally acclaimed sports performance coach for the Kansas Jayhawks. She was a four-year letter winner in volleyball at the University of Maryland, where she graduated in 1994. She earned her BS degree in kinesiology at Maryland and her masters of art and sport biomechanics degree from the University of Connecticut. She joined the KU staff as associate director of strength and conditioning in September 2004. She was promoted to assistant athletic director for sport performance in July 2008. Since her arrival, Hudy has handled the strength and conditioning responsibilities for the KU men’s and women’s basketball team. Currently she oversees the Anderson Strength and Conditioning Complex for all KU sports except football. She has worked with 37 student-athletes who went on to play in the NBA and 21 who went on to play in the WNBA.
10:20 – 11:35 a.m.
Option 1 (Commons) — Dr. Lisa McLendon, “Everything You Learned About Grammar Is (Probably) Wrong.” Dr. McLendon, who lectured on fake news at last year’s Mini College, is chair of the News & Information track at the KU School of Journalism, where she also teaches grammar, editing and writing. Before coming to KU, she spent seven years as the deputy news desk chief at the Wichita Eagle and five years as news editor at the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle. She moved into journalism after earning a doctorate in Slavic languages from the University of Texas. In 2017, her book “The Perfect English Grammar Workbook” was published by Callisto Media.
Option 2 (Watson) – Three students discussing their psychology research:
“Differences in Experiencing the Speech-to-Song Illusion as a Function of Age?” by Hollie Mullin. The Speech-to-Song Illusion is an auditory illusion that occurs when a spoken phrase is repeated. After several repetitions, some listeners report that the phrase seems to be sung, rather than spoken. This project will examine how older and younger adults experience the Speech-to-Song Illusion. Hollie will soon be a senior majoring in behavioral neuroscience and minoring in social and behavioral sciences methodology.
“Who is Responsible for School Shootings? The Relationship Between Race and Perceived Responsibility,” by Trevor Lies. Trevor, originally from Cheney, Kan., recently graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish. Next fall he plans to study in KU’s Ph.D. social psychology program.
“Does a More Complex Self Imply Better Coping Against Realization of One’s Hypocrisy?” by Abhay Alaukik. Abhay, a junior majoring in psychology, says that growing up, he was often confused when his friends would react in different ways to the same situation. That, and watching an “irresponsibly large” number of psychological-thriller movies, drew him to psychology. He has worked in KU’s Existential Motivation, Metaphor, & Action Lab for about two years and has been active in several research projects.
11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Lunch on your own.
1:15 – 2:30 p.m.
Option 1 (Commons) – Stephen Mazza, dean of the Law School, “Analyzing the Trump Tax Cuts.” Mazza joined the Law School faculty in 1998 and was named dean in April 2011. An honors graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, he received his LL.M. degree from New York University School of Law, where he was managing editor of the Tax Law Review. After practicing in the tax section of a large Atlanta law firm, he returned to NYU as an acting assistant professor teaching in the LL.M. tax program. Prof. Mazza has expanded the number of tax offerings at KU, teaching separate courses in taxation of mergers and acquisitions, tax procedure, and tax policy. He also coordinates the Law School’s tax certificate program and VITA program. Mazza is an active member of the tax section of the Kansas Bar Association and a frequent speaker on tax issues.
Option 2 (Watson and Spencer Museum) — Associate Director of Academic Programs Howard Graham, a discussion of the University’s “Common Book.” This year’s book is “Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation,” a collection of writings edited by John Freeman. The discussion will center on two essays: “Blood Brothers” and “Looking for Home.” After the discussion, participants will walk to Spencer to view some relevant artwork.
Each year, incoming students receive a copy of that year’s Common Book at orientation, and returning students, faculty, and staff can purchase a copy at the KU Bookstore. Some instructors use the book in their lessons, and the faculty and staff are encouraged to lead a Common Book discussion group. The Common Book creates a shared academic experience for first-year students and creates new connections among students, faculty and staff. (Note: The book is also available on Amazon, among other places.)
3 – 4:15 p.m. (Commons) — Prof. John Younger, “Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greek Sculpture.” Prof. Younger, who also lectured at last year’s Mini College, came to KU in 2002 as a professor of classics from Duke University, where he had taught for 27 years. He has also taught in the KU departments of Humanities, Museum Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He has been the director of Jewish studies since 2013. He holds a BA degree in history from Stanford University and MA and Ph.D. degrees in classics from the University of Cincinnati. His research focuses on the Aegean Bronze Age. He has published numerous books, chapters and articles on various Bronze Age and Classical topics, including an entry in the encyclopedia “Sex in the Ancient World, A-Z.”
4:30 p.m. – Adjourn.