Sabbatical Projects Approved

Eleven NMU faculty members will be granted sabbatical leave in 2009-10. Many of their projects are intentionally aligned with goals and priorities outlined in the Road Map to 2015.

Following are brief overviews of the recipients and their projects:

Daric Christian (Art and Design) will complete two short films using high-definition video. One will be an experimental film with a high level of visual effects and the other will be a more traditional narrative. The work will be submitted to national film festivals for review and screening, with a long-term goal of using the exposure to obtain external funding for a full-length feature film.

Mark Jacobs (Physics) will seek to improve his department’s astronomical observatories and to develop new skills for using the observatories in both teaching and research. Projects will include enabling full computer control of the movable mounts that hold the telescopes, becoming more proficient in the techniques of astronomical imaging, setting up a computer and software for post-processing of images and creating student projects that will enable students to be more fully engaged in the study of astronomy.


Kenneth Janson (Business) will pursue three research streams during his leave: evaluating capital management strategies of publicly owned domestic bank holding companies; addressing the design of optimal capital structures for smaller banking companies; and studying the international dialogue concerning financial accounting and reporting.


Ronald Johnson (English) will complete a novel titled The Last Rodeo, which is set during the second half of the 20th century and explores the experiences and values of three generations of ranchers in the Western United States. The three generations provide the framework for both carrying forward the traditions of family life and for exploring areas of conflict among generations. 


John MacDevitt (Counseling and Consultation Services) will pursue an interdisciplinary research project to integrate the understanding of student developmental needs into the planning of instruction and programming in the university setting. The project will use a counseling center psychologist’s knowledge of student developmental needs as they contribute to planning and teaching a freshman course in English composition.


Harold Martin (Mathematics and Computer Science) will research a branch of mathematics known as fractal geometry. He proposes to compute the Gromov-Hausdorff distances between various types of Cantor sets, which is a large generic problem in the field.


Robert Regis (Geography) will study and develop curriculum in a relatively new geology sub-discipline: the study of societal issues related to Earth—specifically Earth hazards such as flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. He will travel to U.S. sites to collect information and pedagogical materials necessary for an Earth hazards class. Regis also will develop and publish a laboratory manual for use in Earth hazards teaching.


Dennis Staffne (Art and Design) will create a portfolio of creative photographic prints titled “Signal ∙ Noise ∙ Memory.” He will use electronic imaging along with creative photographic production of subjects and locations appropriate to the genre of rural and urban photography. Staffne will bring the technical and creative aspects of the project to his photography classes as well as prepare regional and national solo exhibitions of the work.


Carol Steinhaus (Business) will pursue a joint project with management faculty at Bielefeld University in Germany focused on aspects of international cultural differences related to business professionals. Steinhaus’ objectives also include strengthening the relationship between NMU and Bielefeld University business faculty, gaining knowledge of new teaching methods and gaining experience of business coursework from an international perspective.

Mary Jane Tremethick (Health, Physical Education and Recreation) will explore the perceived benefits and rewards of nursing preceptorships in the clinical setting in developing countries. She will conduct this study in Honduras, where she has already conducted a cultural immersion/service learning course for NMU students. The project will address a paucity in the literature regarding preceptorships in nursing in developing countries and will also provide an opportunity to integrate results of the research into the NMU course.


Renxin Yang (Sociology) will conduct a comparative study in China of young and middle-aged women concerning beliefs, values and norms on marriage and family as affected by the economic reform and globalization in China during the recent and current rapid rate of social and economic change. Literature reviews, interviews and analysis of data will focus on comparing generational and cohort differences. 


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Updated: December 12, 2008

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