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College honors outstanding graduate students

Thursday, June 18, 2015

LAWRENCE – The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences recognized three University of Kansas graduate students with awards for exceptional research and academic performance.

The honorees are making contributions to the depth of knowledge about U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ off-reservation boarding schools; the power of rhetoric in social change in West Africa; and social capital and health in Indonesia.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

The Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award is presented to graduating master’s degree students for completing a thesis that is innovative, methodologically rigorous and makes a significant advancement or original contribution to his or her discipline. The award is presented at the College’s spring graduate recognition ceremony.

  • Joshua Meisel, who finished his master’s in geography in summer 2014, was recognized for his thesis, “Historical Demographics, Student Origins, and Recruitment at Off-Reservation Indian Boarding Schools, 1900.” His adviser, Jay Johnson, associate professor of geography and indigenous studies, praised the analysis for its depth and complexity.

    Meisel’s thesis deepens current understanding of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ off-reservation boarding schools. The Bureau of Indian Affairs established 27 boarding schools for American Indian youths between 1880 and 1900, including Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, which was established as the United States Indian Industrial School. Although the history of the boarding schools has been researched, no work has been published that explores the demographics of these schools. Meisel’s research is filling that gap with extensive archival research that has created a unique vision of the student population at these 27 schools during a dark period of U.S. history. He and Johnson are pursuing a publication from his thesis in the Journal of Historical Geography.

Howard J. Baumgartel Peace & Justice Award

The Howard J. Baumgartel Peace & Justice Award provides support for a graduate student’s thesis or dissertation research in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences or the School of Business. The award is given to master’s or doctoral students whose interests encompass study of areas including conflict resolution, social action, human problems in the world of work, race and ethnic relations, and Third World development.

  • Angela Murphy, a doctoral student in the Department of English, studies rhetoric as a means to investigate the ways people and organizations advocate for social change.

    The Baumgartel award will support Murphy’s trip to Senegal in West Africa to study gender, health and development. While there, she will interview and observe individuals involved with nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations devoted to promoting gender equity, health initiatives and environmental outreach. Murphy’s research suggests that a tension between the political rhetoric of quasi-democracies and the religious rhetoric of Islam influences the success or failure of NGO’s in non-Western democracies. Her research will contribute firsthand accounts of what is needed to effectively advocate for social change in developing nations.

Allen S. Wilber Scholarship

The Allen S. Wilber Scholarship is awarded to students who completed an undergraduate degree at KU and intend to pursue graduate study in humanities, social sciences, or international and interdisciplinary studies.

  • Erin Ice, a graduating senior from Lawrence majoring in sociology, will apply the scholarship toward graduate study in the Department of Sociology. As an undergraduate student she was selected for the Global Scholars Program at KU and won an Undergraduate Research Award grant to examine social capital and health in Indonesia. Ice will begin graduate study in sociology at KU in the fall of 2015.

Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.