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16 On the cover Provost Jeanette Mendez and four new Faculty Fellows are some of the many OSU leaders with College of Arts and Sciences roots. (Cover photo by Jason Wallace) 2 Loyal and true Octogenarian and former faculty member continues to support students by attending countless Greenwood School performances. 11 Drop in the bucket Intrepid geography student starts a nonprofit with her fellow classmates to bring water to areas of Zimbabwe. 12 Speaking up Languages and literatures professor working to preserve northern Spain’s Asturian culture and dialect. 32 Hall of Fame CAS awards three alumni — Chic Dambach, Bill Goldston and Ron Ward — with its highest honor. 54 74 Plus … scholars 16 2 11 CONNECT is a publication of the Oklahoma State University College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to provide information on college activities and accomplishments while fostering communication among the CAS family and friends. WWW.CAS.OKSTATE.EDU action. OSU is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all individuals and does not discriminate based on race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, or veteran status with regard to employment, educational programs and activities, and/ or admissions. For more information, the director of equal opportunity/Title IX coordinator is located at 401 General Academic Building and can be reached at 405-744-1156 or by visiting EEO.OKSTATE.EDU. This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the College of Arts and Sciences, was printed by Modern Litho, at a cost of $6,442.46/4,750/July 2023/#9866. College of Arts and Sciences MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER Elizabeth Gosney ’21 COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR Erin Milek ’20 EDITOR Jordan Bishop ’16 ART DIRECTOR Dave Malec DESIGNER Stephen Matthews ’23 PHOTOGRAPHER Jason Wallace ’03 WRITERS Dr. Rachael Eaton Sydney Holder ’23 Elizabeth Gosney Sutton James ’22 Erin Milek Sam Milek ’23 Allie Putman ’23 Grant Ramirez ’21 Sydney Trainor Bella Vu ’23 COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES INTERIM DEAN Dr. Keith Garbutt ASSOCIATE DEAN/OUTREACH Dr. Bobbi Kay Lewis ’93, ’03 SENIOR DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT Laura Ketchum YEARS INDICATE OSU CAS GRADUATES CONNECT

It’s amazing how time flies. It does not seem to have been a year since I moved into the dean’s During the past 12months, I havemet with many of our alumni, and I am amazed by their range of accomplishments. I can think of no better response to the canard that you can’t get a job with an arts and sciences degree than to point to the local, national and international impact of our alumni. Shortly after I became dean, CAS Senior of the College of Professional Studies at OSU-Tulsa. With Freeman’s departure, it was necessary to do a search for a new associate dean and SIO; I’mhappy to announce that Dr. Mario Borunda, a professor in the Department of Physics, was selected for that position and has been working with the college since January on our faculty recruitment and Former Department of Psychology head Dr. dean in January. His role, which is over facilities, had previously been part of an associate dean’s portfolios. However, it became clear that the magnitude of managing CAS buildings needed someone’s full attention. We have some of the most imposing, majestic — and oldest — buildings understand both the problems and potential opportunities of CAS facilities. One of the main focuses of the year has been, of course, President Shrum’s strategic initiatives. As you read through the innovative and creative plan for the future of the university ( strategic-plan), you’ll see that the arts and sciences are embedded in almost every area. Whether it’s recruitment, retention, teaching, research, excellence or student development, arts and sciences — the heart of Oklahoma State University — are right there. One aspect of the strategic plan we are giving special attention to is Extension. Other colleges across campus are doing remarkable work, but CAS has a strong and central role to play. Three standout CAS Extension examples include:  The Prairie Arts Center – This community arts classes for adults and youth.  Psychological Services Center – Part of the Department of Psychology, the center serves residents of Stillwater and the surrounding communities.  Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic – The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders provides services to community members of all ages through its on-campus training.  So, if someone asks where the College of Arts and Sciences is in the strategic initiatives, the answer is EVERYWHERE. Thank you for your continued support of our college as we work to make OSU the nation’s preeminent land-grant university. GOPOKES! Keith Garbutt, Ph.D. InterimDean, College of Arts and Sciences FROM THE DEAN’S OFFICE PHOTO JASON WALLACE OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 1

STORY SAM MILEK | PHOTOS GARRETT KIRKSEY, COURTESY OF MYR-LOU ROLLINS WADE Retired CAS faculty member continues to impact students' lives 2 CONNECT 2023

Myr-Lou Rollins Wade has a love for the performing arts. A love that has spanned almost her entire life and a love that reminds her of the times she felt weightless as she danced on stage. More than 30 years after retirement, Rollins attends as many performances and recitals put on through Oklahoma State University’s Greenwood School of Music as she can. At 88, it’s a challenge sometimes getting to the event, but she remains loyal and true to the university that has given her so much. Rollins’ decadeslong love for the performing arts began in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. Born Myrtle Louise, she quickly came to be known simply as Myr-Lou. The daughter of a hardware salesman, she and her family lived frugally, but didn’t let that deter their happiness. She began to take dance lessons at an early age. Her first instructor, Ella Ilse, played an influential role in Rollins finding her passion through ballet. “She not only taught me to dance, but she also taught me that the body should be treated properly through posture and exercise,” Rollins said. At just 14, Rollins had the opportunity to travel around surrounding towns to assist another dance teacher of hers, Margaret Collins. She danced for two years to cover the cost of dance shoes and costumes, before returning to Ilse’s tutelage for her senior year of high school. Rollins attended Del Mar College in Corpus Christi after high school, though her heart was still set on dance. Not too long after, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself. Her former high school dance partner, Lowell Purvis, was headed to Los Angeles to continue dancing and wanted Rollins to join him. Much to the hesitation of her parents, Purvis assured them he would take care of their daughter. “My parents didn’t think I should venture alone, plus the financial strain,” Rollins said. “Lowell guaranteed them that he would help me.” Just like that, the eager young Texan was on her way to Hollywood. OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 3

A C tent Car r Upon arrival, Rollins landed a room at the Dixon Manor located behind the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Purvis introduced her to various schools of dance such as the Hollywood School of Dance, African Contemporary and Ernest Belcher ballet. Rollins said that attending each of these required her to master the complex L.A. bus system to get from studio to studio. As time went on, though, she decided the Hollywood lifestyle was not for her. Returning home in 1953, she attended a dance program at Texas State College for Women (TSCW) in Denton, where she was able to travel and perform around the country for communities and other colleges. She graduated in May 1956 after her last performance, where she met Glenda Williams, head of women’s physical education at Oklahoma A&M College. The following June, Rollins and a group of friends from the TSCW modern dance group traveled to New high school instructors did when she was a student. She even had the chance to instruct students who later achieved popularity of their own, like Wally Funk. “[Funk] was a physical education major at the time, and was required to take dance classes, which she wasn’t interested in,” Rollins said. “She was more interested in flying. She would come and tell me all of the fine experiences she had with it.” In 1985, Rollins met Kenneth Wade at a ballroom dance in Stillwater. She said she had no interest in dating at first, with school being her top priority. However, Wade was persistent and after Rollins ran out of excuses, the two began to date. She retired in 1986 as an accomplished emeritus faculty member. “I just enjoyed teaching,” Rollins said. “And the neat thing is, I would run into students later who would remember me, and we would chat about what year they were in and the memories they had.” Rollins and Wade moved to the nearby town of Perry after marrying in 1989, still keeping the apartment in Stillwater for a place to stay when there were performances to attend. York City where they met Ruth St. Denis, who at the time was considered a pioneer in modern dance. It was also around this time when she was Rollins a job as a dance instructor. Rollins said she and her family eagerly awaited a contract in the mail. After what she said felt like forever, they received a confirmation letter from Valerie Colvin, who had taken Williams’ place. Her only concern for Rollins was finding a place to live in Stillwater. However, they discovered a newly constructed apartment complex, which Rollins was able to secure a spot in. Her first month’s rent only cost her $60 and it’s the same apartment Rollins lives in to this day. For the next 30 years, Rollins taught dance and organized performances at OSU throughout the old Field House, now Gallagher-Iba Arena; the Bartlett Center for Visual Arts; and the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. Her teaching career at OSU was all Rollins could have hoped for. She opened the world of dance to students and organized performances like her former 4 CONNECT 2023

Even in retirement, Rollins knew she still had more to give to OSU. College of Education and Human Sciences, at an emeriti faculty luncheon. Eager to give back to the university, Rollins pitched the “She approached me and the former dean of the College of Education about asked for suggestions on areas that needed funding. We suggested some scholarship options and the Dean’s Excellence Fund as possibilities for her to consider.” They eventually settled on the MyrLou Rollins Wade Endowed Scholarship for physical education majors interested in creative rhythms and movement. In 2004, the scholarship moved to the College of Arts and Sciences for students majoring in theatre. “The process of setting up her said. “She said that OSU had been a great part of her life, and she wanted to give something back.” The Wades would often frequent concerts and recitals. After Kenneth passed away in 2019, Rollins moved back to Stillwater and devoted her time to attending as many performances at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts as possible. With age came new barriers, though. No longer comfortable driving at night, she found a helping hand in McKnight Center house manager Hannah Mans, who drove Rollins to and from a performance during the fall 2022 semester. “Myr-Lou was having trouble finding a ride to the performance, and asked if I would be able to assist her, even if it meant she had to arrive much earlier than normal,” Mans said. “I was able to give her a ride, and I am glad I did.” It was at this performance that Mans also witnessed a heartfelt moment between Rollins and a group of students from the performance. “After the concert, while she waited patiently in the lobby as I finished up my concert duties, a couple of students approached Myr-Lou,” Mans said. “They recognized her from all of the times she had attended their performances, and thanked her for being there and supporting them. MyrLou was visibly moved.” In her 88 years, Rollins has achieved a life of adventure and success. Even 36 years after retirement, she remains dedicated to the creative minds in the performing arts at OSU. “I keep coming back because of how hard these students work,” she said. “It warms my heart to see these wonderful people put together such beautiful performances.” Left: Myr-Lou Rollins Wade has lived an adventurous life from dancing on stage around the country to being an instructor at Oklahoma State University. Above: Rollins Wade is a fervent supporter of the Greenwood School of Music and gets tickets for nearly every GSM event at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts. OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 5

Hyping theHumanities New director, faculty researchers propel Center for the Humanities to new heights Oklahoma State University’s Center for the Humanities got its first director in 2023 with the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Borland. Prior to being named director, Borland served as interim director for the center, was the founding director of the Digital Humanities Initiative and taught art history in the Department of Art, Graphic Design and Art History for 16 years. “I’mutterly thrilled to be the first director,” Borland said, who will also occasionally continue to teach art history courses. “This is the culmination of over seven years of work with an amazing group of collaborators. It is extremely rewarding to see the work over several years materialize into the establishment of the center, and I’m excited to move forward with all our plans.” The center, a College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) initiative that formally launched in 2022, aims to increase the visibility of humanities research on campus and foster production of new interdisciplinary projects. One such project Borland is looking forward to expanding is the Research Group Fellowship program launched earlier this year. STORY BELLA VU | PHOTOS JASON WALLACE “This flagship program provides support to facilitate collaborative interdisciplinary research in areas like medical humanities, environmental humanities and digital humanities,” Borland said. “Very few universities have this type of program to foster new research, and I can see OSU’s ambitious and unique model becoming one that is emulated by other institutions.” This year’s medical/health humanities research group includes Dr. Reanae McNeal from Interdisciplinary Programs, Marqua Harris from the College of Education and Human Sciences, and Vanessa Oliphant from Dr. Jennifer Borland is the first director of the Center for the Humanities after 16 years at Oklahoma State University. 6 CONNECT 2023

Komal Nazir presents her cohort’s research proposal at the Edmon Low Library in April. from the School of Media and Strategic Communications, Dr. Heather Stewart from the Department of Philosophy and Richard Sylvestre from the Department of English. Their research focuses on “Artificial Intelligence in Academia: Exploring ChatGPT as Risk and Opportunity.” “Our interdisciplinary team is researching how people understand and talk about the use of ChatGPT in academia,” Avance said. “Our first and primary goal is to get our campus talking about this technology to proactively ensure it is ethically implemented in our teaching and research here at OSU.” In addition to its researchers’ endeavors, the Center for the the Department of Psychology. Their research topic is “Reenvisioning Community Engaged Research for Black Women” with a focus on health justice and Black women. “Due to the current backlash of antiBlack gendered oppression and the severe health disparities and inequities, the need to attend to Black women’s health and healing is urgent,” McNeal said. “Our research objective is to call for the creation of sacred spaces for Black women to engage in embodied communal healing.” The environmental humanities research group includes Dr. Cailey Hall and Komal Nazir from the Department of English and Dr. Rebecca Kaplan from the Department of History. Their research focus is “Food Security and Food Cultures.” “Food is both essential for survival and full of culturally specific meaning,” Kaplan said. “This project aims to increase awareness of food insecurity to address the issue. By designing a comprehensive website that provides up-to-date information on various foodrelated resources available on campus, it will clearly and concisely provide information for students, faculty and between members of the OSU community who share food cultures and food interests.” The digital humanities research group includes Dr. Rosemary Avance Marqua Harris and Vanessa Oliphant present their research proposal at the Edmon Low Library in April. Researchers and attendees mingle during the Center for the Humanities research presentation and reception event in April. Humanities is working toward having a physical home on campus, where it can continue to increase the visibility and reach of the humanities. Nine new research group fellows will begin their work in the fall. “The center provides an inclusive and collaborative environment in which we want to foster dialogue and engage communities, demonstrating the powerful impact of the humanities to address problems and impact change,” Borland said. LEARN MORE about the Center for the Humanities and get involved at OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 7

CAS Student Researchers COMPILATIONS RACHAEL EATON, PH.D. | PHOTOS PROVIDED DEVANSHI PATEL Ph.D. | Clinical Psychology Sixth Year Research Mentor: Dr. Jaimie Arona-Krems Houston How did you begin your research? I joined my first psychology research lab as a freshman and quickly grew to love disseminating research at conferences and community events. As a doctoral student, I found my own research interests by working with families and children, listening to the issues they experience. I now work to better understand stigmas directed at parents and families. How has it had an impact on you? I conduct research on stigmas that people face, specifically why people might stigmatize parents of children with higher weights. Weight-related stigma is pervasive and painful to experience. I hope that the work I do brings awareness to the lived experiences of this community. I recently published my first-authored manuscript in Psychological Science on parental stigma. It’s the second paper to empirically demonstrate that people do stigmatize parents of children with higher weights, and it’s the first to explore a model as to why people do this in the first place. I am now working on extending that work. What are your future plans? My next step is a clinical internship to complete my doctorate. I am looking forward to continuing my research trajectory by collaborating with leaders in our field who are also researching obesity, stigma and families. I think research illuminating the psychology underlying weight-related stigma will have important real-world implications. The College of Arts and Sciences fosters groundbreaking research across its 24 departments. Here are five students doing outstanding work in their fields under the mentorship of CAS faculty. 8 CONNECT 2023

CARRIE PRATT Ph.D. | Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Second Year Research Mentor: Dr. Mostafa Elshahed Kollweiler, Germany How did you begin your research? I wanted to improve my medical school application, so the summer before my senior year at the University of North Dakota I joined a research lab studying Lyme disease. I ended up falling in love with research and deciding that medical school wasn’t for me. I took a gap year and worked in another lab where I studied pollinator taxonomy and their microbiomes. How has it had an impact on you? My research focuses on anaerobic gut fungi that live in the digestive tracts of herbivores. I’m specifically working with non-standard hosts like birds, reptiles and marsupials. The most exciting part of my research has been my discovery of two new genera of anaerobic gut fungi that were cultured from tortoises. I presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Missouri Valley Branch of the American Society for Microbiology and I recently earned the Women’s Faculty Council Student Research Award, the Distinguished Graduate Fellowship and the Norman Durham Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Microbiology. I also just had a paper accepted to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. What are your future plans? I’m considering pursuing a postdoctoral position in Europe, hopefully somewhere close to where I grew up. I’ve always planned on joining academia to be a professor, but I’m also open to opportunities in industry or government. Ultimately, I just want a position that allows me to conduct research I’m interested in. MAGHINBREWER Major | English (Screen Studies) Class of 2023 Research Mentor: Dr. Sarah Loss Tulsa How did you begin your research? I started doing research during spring semester 2021. I applied for the Advancing Undergraduate Research or Creative Activity (AURCA) program and wanted to do research in the English department. At first, I was hesitant because I did not know anything about linguistics, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, so I applied to be a research assistant. How has it had an impact on you? My research project is important because I was able to broaden the diversity within the study. I looked at minority groups and asked them questions that researchers in the past did not think to ask. I made the data more diverse, while being more inclusive of demographics that are often overlooked. I’ve presented my research a few times, including at the OSU Undergraduate Research Symposium in April and the Center for Oklahoma Studies. These were great opportunities for me to not only share my work, but also get experience with presenting to groups of people that I am not familiar with. What are your future plans? I graduated from OSU in 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in screen studies, and I will be staying at the university to complete my master’s in the screen studies program. After completing my master’s, I would love to get my Ph.D. and become a professor. OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 9

MARYVANG Major | Communication Sciences and Disorders Class of 2023 Research Mentor: Dr. Valerie Freeman Sallisaw, Oklahoma HADLEESHIELDS Major | Biology: Pre-med Class of 2026 Research Mentor: Dr. Allison Dorko Amarillo, Texas How did you begin your research? I was first introduced to research during my second year in college through an Honors add-on course: Deaf Experience, Deaf Expression (DXDX). I was quickly drawn into the field after spending a semester on the DXDX team and through my introduction to research class. I was then accepted into the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program that assists underrepresented students with goals of obtaining doctoral degrees. Through McNair, I grew my interest in research and developed my project under the guidance of my mentor. How has it had an impact on you? I recently received the Student Preparing for Academic and Research Careers Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to fund my research project. I have presented my research at a variety of conferences recently, including the OSU Summer Research Expo and national McNair Scholars Conferences in California, Texas, Maryland and Missouri. I also presented my ongoing DXDX project at the Oklahoma SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association Annual Conference. What are your future plans? After graduating from Oklahoma State University, I plan to attend graduate school to obtain a master’s degree and clinician certifications as a speechlanguage pathologist. In the future, I will continue my research career in a communication sciences and disorders Ph.D. program. How did you begin your research? I knew that I wanted to get into research as soon as possible, but as a freshman, I didn’t know where to start. Then I got an email about a program designed to help first-year research students find a position. I applied to AURCA, interviewed with as many mentors as possible, matched with a mentor and got to work. How has it had an impact on you? I have been working with Dr. Allison Dorko on a study looking at the learning process and how students best learn specific concepts. For example, we have found that students learn the material from lectures but truly begin understanding it when they are doing homework. Giving students more homework would allow them the chance to reinforce what they learned in class. Ultimately, I am looking for ways to improve student success. I helped Dr. Dorko create a poster, which we presented at the Oklahoma-Texas Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education and the OSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. What are your future plans? I want to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. They take a more holistic approach to medicine, which I really appreciate. I would love to do my part by continuing to do research, as it plays such an important role in medicine. 10 CONNECT 2023

her classmates. They then partnered with Trent’s organization, Tererai Trent International (also known as Tinogona Foundation). Trent founded Tererai Trent International to lead in improving and growing the education system in Zimbabwe. With a focus on increasing access to education, Tererai Trent International aims to empower communities, boost their growth and promote their development through education. “As a foundation, we realize that the elimination of poverty and waterborne diseases, and increasing rural girls’ school attendance, can only be achieved by partnering with likeminded organizations likeWishes for Water,” Trent said. “That way, we are not only bringing clean and safe water to rural communities, but also creating sustainable income for rural women and girls.” Oklahoma State University alumna Dr. Tererai Trent (center right) has been working on improving and growing the education system in Zimbabwe. Lily Chavez, a global studies major within the Department of Geography, is just a junior in college but already has the title of “founder” on her resume. In 2023, Chavez createdWishes for Water, a nonprofit that aims to build wells in rural Zimbabwe. During a trip with the President’s Leadership Council to Zimbabwe, Chavez connected with Oklahoma State University alumna Dr. Tererai Trent, who introduced her to a need that community: a lack of water. “I went on the trip and saw the conditions and experiences people were living,” Chavez said. “I decided we needed to find some way to give back rather than visiting annually and leaving without bringing anything to the table.” Chavez came back to campus and took the first steps to establish her nonprofit organization with the help of STORY ERIN MILEK | PHOTOS COURTESY OF LILY CHAVEZ Wishing forWater OSU student begins a nonprofit to supply water across the globe January 2023 and continues to attract supporters. With the goal of building two wells every year — the cost of each well sitting at $15,000 —Chavez and her classmates hit the ground running to promote their mission and connect with donors any way they could. “Each member reached out to their personal connections to crowdfund,” Chavez said. “We really relied on social media to spread the word, so when news outlets reach out, I get so excited for the opportunity to share our message.” At the end of the spring 2023 semester, Wishes forWater celebratedmeeting their goal of raising $15,000 to build their first well in the Hurungwe school district located in rural Zimbabwe. Lily Chavez LEARN MORE about Wishes for Water at OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 11

SpeakingMy Language Professor shares knowledge of northern Spain’s Asturian language and culture Dr. Isabel Alvarez-Sancho is an expert in languages and literatures, especially those in Spain. But there is one language that holds some significance to the Oklahoma State University associate professor. And it’s a language that is lacking in its exposure. Asturian, the native tongue of the principality of Asturias in far northern Spain, is one of several languages Alvarez-Sancho is well-versed in. A part of OSU’s Department of Languages and Literatures since 2012, she is the Spanish section coordinator for the department and can read Catalan, Galician, French, Portuguese and Asturian. She specializes in 21st century Iberian cultural studies and has a Licenciatura in Hispanic philology from the University of Oviedo in Spain and a Ph.D. in Hispanic cultural studies from Michigan State University. Before coming to OSU, she worked as a Spanish lecturer in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and an associate professor at Central Michigan University. While her educational background boasts of specialization in language and cultural studies, she noticed a lack of studies in Asturian culture in the United States. until recently, there was not an association in the U.S. whatsoever dedicated to studying Asturian,” Alvarez-Sancho said. “There were some scholars studying this individually, but many of themdid not know each other nor were they collaborating. This may be due to the fact that Asturian as a language is Although Asturian is spoken by around half a million people, it survives through cultural aspects such as music, literature, poetry and science. Alvarez-Sancho took the initiative to ensure the culture’s conservation by gaining an international network, starting within the U.S. It began with a 2021 Society for the Analysis of Cultural Topics and Linguistic Identities N’Asturies (SAnTINA) conference organized by the University of California to connect scholars interested in Asturian studies across the world. The conference received great interest and propelled Alvarez-Sancho into planning her SAnTINA conference hosted virtually by OSU inMay. The conference was open to the public and featured 30 papers and 40 scholars from three continents that continued the discussion of Asturian linguistics, history and cinema. The first goal of these conferences was to unite scholars, cultural creators or anybody interested in the studies, as some may have never left the region. Because these scholars are located across the at looking at Asturian history that can create new avenues of cultural discussion. The second goal was to disseminate Asturian language and culture internationally and raise awareness of minoritized languages in all countries. This allows for the contribution of Alvarez-Sancho actively collaborates in Asturian seminars, having recently participated in conferences in Spain as well as Tennessee, which were both well received. She recently published an article on Asturian music and worked with UC Riverside to host an event —Asturian 101 — to explain Asturian’s many facets to those interested in the area of study. Dr. Susana Perea-Fox, professor emerita in Spanish and Latin American studies at OSU, collaborated and attended panels with AlvarezSancho at the conference of Asturian studies. Perea-Fox spoke about her admiration for her colleague and highlighted Alvarez-Sancho hosting the second Asturian studies conference. “Dr. Isabel Alvarez-Sancho has shined in the languages and literatures department for her strong commitment to excellent teaching, research and service to the department, the university and peninsular studies,” Perea-Fox said. “Those who attended the conference —me included — noted the excellent organization not only with the minute details, but also with the breadth of information and the knowledge of the presenters.” STORY SUTTON JAMES | PHOTO PROVIDED 12 CONNECT 2023

Dr. Isabel Alvarez-Sancho OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 13

Through the College of Arts and Sciences’ online degree options, students have the chance to earn their bachelor’s degree in computer science, sociology or psychology and a master’s degree in statistics from virtually anywhere — as long as there’s a Wi-Fi signal. COMPUTER SCIENCE With online students making up roughly 18.5% of its undergraduate student population, the Department of Computer Science has made a concerted in a wide variety of circumstances. “We have students from all phases of life in our program,” said Cara Brun, academic advisor for the computer science program. “We have some students who are 18 years old and attending college for the first time. We have others who are established in the workforce and looking to add a skill set to advance their careers.” SageWoodard, a computer science senior, has been able to engage with faculty and participate in research despite not being on campus. “Participating in research as an undergraduate student provided a wonderful experience,” Woodard said. STORY ERIN MILEK | PHOTOS PROVIDED Connect fromAnywhere CAS online degree programs provide crucial flexibility for students near and far Sage Woodard 14 CONNECT 2023

comparison to other statistics programs that I had researched, OSU could reasonably balance with my everyday life, but still finish the degree in a timely manner.” Despite being more than 1,000 miles away from campus, Wendland has found community at OSU. “Going into the program, I was concerned that I would be isolated as an online student,” Wendland said. “However, the support and community that I have gotten to experience was quite the opposite. Any time I had a question, the professors were easy to communicate with. Many courses also posted videos of the class in progress while they taught. This allowed me to hear questions from other students and classroom discussions.” “It has allowed me to advance in my career while still having time to take care of my family. I would encourage anyone interested in computers and willing to put in the work to pursue the program.” Woodard’s distance learning opportunity even before her December 2023 graduation from the program. technology company, and I started a remote position as a systems engineer with them this spring,” Woodard said. “Having the experience in OSU’s computer science program helped me SOCIOLOGY In the fall of 2021, students interested in sociology could begin pursuing their degrees online. Laken Pruitt, the advisor for the sociology degree program, said the opportunity is not only a great remote learning option, but also provides students who study on campus with a safety net. “While the program is fairly new, having the online option has been useful for several students,” Pruitt said. “The online degree allows students to have continuity in their degree and gives them the chance to keep working if they have to leave campus for some reason.” As the program grows and develops, Pruitt has seen more students enrolling. “The sociology degree is great because nothing happens outside of the context of society,” Pruitt said. opportunities to learn about society and more and more students are becoming interested in the opportunity.” LEARN MORE about online degree options through the College of Arts and Sciences at Casie Wendland PSYCHOLOGY the online psychology program are implementing a newway to engage with distance learners. “We are introducing a special section of our succeeding in psychology course, specifically for our online students,” said Meredith Beyl, academic advisor for the online psychology program. “This required course leads students to explore their options after completing the degree, with assignments designed to help them understand what career options are available at the bachelor’s level, explore graduate school options, perfect their resumes and understand how to get involved in research and teaching assistantships in the department while completing their degrees.” Beyl emphasized that the best online courses are customized in similar ways, accommodating the unique situation of virtual classrooms. “The section specific to online students allows us to tailor those assignments and conversations to their unique standing as remote learners, making their experience more personalized,” Beyl said. STATISTICS For those who have obtained their onemaster’s level online degree through the Department of Statistics. The applied statistics programequips students with critical skills in data analytics. CasieWendland, a high school teacher inMonmouth County, New Jersey, graduated from the program inMay. “I began looking at programs to further my education and came across this one,” Wendland said. “In “Going into the program, I was concerned that I would be isolated as an online student. However, the support and community that I have gotten to experience was quite the opposite.” CASIE WENDLAND, OSU GRADUATE FROM NEW JERSEY OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 15


“I’ve always thought of myself as a professor, someone who just teaches and does research. Being in administration wasn’t on my BINGO card,” said Mendez, whose first foray into leadership came in 2011 when she became the Department of Political Science head. “But at every phase, with every opportunity that presented itself, I jumped in and did the best I could at the job. I’m not one to say no if I think I can provide a skill at that point in time.” The College of Arts and Sciences showcase that skillset time after time: she served in five permanent and interim leadership capacities within the college over the span of eight years. Then, in 2019, the university appointed her vice provost. “I’ve never approached any position as a placeholder, and I think that’s resonated,” Mendez said. “I haven’t always known what the next step would be, but I have invested myself in the current step. That has meant not standing still, not being complacent and just doing whatever I can.” OSU President Kayse Shrum made use of that can-do attitude and expertise, naming Mendez provost in 2022. Although this is the first time Mendez has directly reported to a woman, she said it’s leadership style, not gender, that made her buy into Dr. Shrum’s vision. “I met with President Shrum on day one and thought, ‘I want to be part of her team,’” Mendez said. “I’ve been able to watch her prioritize, juggle, manage and make choices related to her work-life balance that hadn’t been modeled for me in my career. … I had very supportive people I worked with In the 18 years Dr. Jeanette Mendez has been at Oklahoma State University, her roles have included department head, associate dean, interim dean, vice provost and provost — and yet at the outset, she didn’t aspire to any of them. with President Shrum.” The admiration goes both ways, with Shrum saying that Mendez not only stood out to her as someone “immensely qualified to serve OSU as the provost,” but who also understood the life-changing impact of higher education. “The land-grant mission of OSU is of critical importance and personally relevant to both of us,” said Shrum, who, like Mendez, is a first-generation college graduate. “Access to a college education changed the trajectory of what was possible in our lives. Students need strong leaders, and they need examples they can relate to. Jeanette is an example of determination and turning challenges into opportunities.” One such challenge-turnedopportunity for Mendez was helping Using experience from her time in the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Mendez helps build OSU's academic future OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 17

“We’re recruiting the highest quality faculty and supporting them in all their teaching, research and creative endeavors so that they can elevate other things, but we choose to do our teaching and our research at a comprehensive land-grant university because we care about students.” — create the university’s new strategic plan, “We Are Land-Grant.” Jerome Loughridge, OSU senior vice president of system operations and CEO of the OSU Research Foundation, was a member of the planning team with whom Mendez collaborated closely to frame initial steps of the plan before crafting the final document. “You really get to know how someone thinks when you have to produce such a public piece together,” Loughridge said. “Based on my experience [with Mendez], OSU is in very good hands, indeed.” Loughridge added that in addition to Mendez possessing ideal attributes — namely those of creativity, energy, intelligence and humility — she also has a keen sense of humor. “She takes the work of OSU and its mission extremely seriously; herself, much less so,” Loughridge said. “I think that’s an excellent way for a leader to bring people along in any organization.” Loughridge, Mendez and the other members of Shrum’s “We Are Land-Grant” team pulled from their areas of expertise to present a plan aimed at making OSU the preeminent land-grant institution in the country. “The great thing about having this strategy is that we know what we’re focused on and what we want to do at all points in time,” Mendez said. “It’s about all the puzzle pieces fitting together — that’s on the student side, that’s on the research side, that’s on our faculty side. “We’re recruiting the highest quality faculty and supporting them in all their teaching, research and creative endeavors so that they can elevate OSU and help our students lot of other things, but we choose to do our teaching and our research at a comprehensive land-grant university because we care about students.” Loughridge echoed Mendez’s thoughts, pointing out that it is through her past CAS and universitywide roles that she can see future possibilities. “She has a vision of how OSU can — through its colleges and schools, its faculty and students — really impact Oklahoma through innovation, workforce development and ... OSU graduates who can go out and make good communities great,” Loughridge said. “I sense that Dr. Mendez sees her work as a calling, rather than simply a career.” While Mendez is more visible in her provost role and the stakes of her decisions are often higher, she said there are common threads that run through her tenure at OSU that transcend any titles or perceived prestige. “I have a really good sense of myself and the things that make me happy,” Mendez said. “I don’t do this job because I want power, recognition or money. I do it because I think I have the right energy and the right skill set to move the university forward. I constantly come back to that. I’m in this job because I think we can make a “I’m not in this for anything more than the fact that I care deeply about OSU.” 18 CONNECT 2023

“Then ask and ask again. You’re not supposed to know everything. That’s part of growing and evolving.” “Leadership opportunities are everywhere, and they don’t always come with a title or a certain position. People get caught up with, ‘I need to do XYZ in order to lead,’ but there are just so many other ways.” “Enter into leadership for the right reasons. If you are doing it for that career advancement and not a passion for the mission, you’re going to burn yourself out and it won’t to be worth it.” "You don’t have to do everything for your team. In fact, if you do, they won’t buy into what you’re building. Learn how to be the leader of the team, not the doer of the team.” Advice for Young Professionals OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 19

Four CAS members become faculty fellows to aid new strategic plan Answering a call from the provost, four College of Arts and Sciences faculty members have stepped up to lead initiatives as faculty fellows. In October 2022, Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum released her strategic plan, “We Are Land-Grant.” The plan outlines priority areas and eight imperatives that OSU will focus on to reach the ultimate goal of becoming the preeminent landgrant institution. There are currently 10 faculty fellows selected to spearhead the work on strategic plan initiatives. The selected faculty have been asked to utilize their expertise and connections to engage in conversations and collect information STORY ERIN MILEK | PHOTO JASON WALLACE 20 CONNECT 2023

that will enhance the development of the systemwide OSU strategy. These fellowships are expected to conclude in the summer of 2024 when the fellows will provide their researchbased recommendations to university administrators. With four fellows, CAS has the greatest showing on the 10-fellow team. Dr. James “Jim” Knapp was selected as the faculty fellow to lead energy initiatives under the strategic plan priority, “Powering a Growing World Population Sustainably and Responsibly.” A Boone Pickens School of Geology professor, Knapp has research interests in carbon dioxide storage and its implications on the future. As a faculty fellow, he has been tasked with leading cross-campus conversations to gather an inventory of OSU’s current energy endeavors and produce a plan to set OSU apart in the industry. “I am building my task force and working to make sure there is a voice for everyone who needs to be at the table,” Knapp said. “This is really coming down to figuring out what strengths OSU has in the energy industry and identifying areas of growth and where we can collaborate within our institution and beyond.” The topic of energy has a longstanding history in Oklahoma. Knapp sees this as an opportunity to grow OSU’s involvement in the industry and to connect with experts to leverage those experiences into a sustainable plan. “This initiative is really about energy as it relates to critical social issues,” Knapp said. “That aspect has opened the door for some incredible collaboration and conversation with departments like philosophy and the School of Media and Strategic Communications.” Dr. Tamara Mix is the head of the Department of Sociology and serves as the social sciences representative for the General Education Advisory Council. Mix has been tasked with leading a working group, “Guiding General Education Reform,” to revise OSU’s general education system and enhance student and faculty experiences with general education. “The timing is perfect for a transformative model of general education that is innovative and provides students with a broad skill their core, contain aspects specific to the culture of an institution. Given Dr. Tamara Mix | Sociology From left: Dr. James Knapp, Dr. Tamara Mix, Dr. Rebecca Brienen and Dr. Steph Link. OSU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SC I ENCES 21

the land-grant mission to provide a ‘liberal and practical education,’ we are working toward the development of a relevant and intellectually challenging general education program.” The sweeping nature of CAS — with 24 departments covering the social sciences, arts and humanities, and the opportunity to find diverse courses to meet their degree requirements. Because of that, it is likely that every student who passes through OSU will “One never knows when something we learned in a subject area far from our career-oriented studies can enrich our lives or serve us in a rapidly changing society,” Mix said. “I am proud to serve the university and particularly our students by building a system that is accessible and pertinent to them as engaged scholars and future members of the workforce.” Along with serving the college as associate dean for personnel and faculty development, Dr. Rebecca Brienen is the faculty fellow in charge of “Enriching and Integrating the Arts.” Among her other titles and experiences, Brienen is a professor of art history and the director of the Prairie Arts Center, a collaboration between the city of Stillwater and OSU to promote engagement with the arts. After being encouraged by her colleagues who felt she was the best fit for this role, Brienen accepted the opportunity to represent CAS in a new way as a faculty fellow. “As the individual heading up this task force, I recognize it is important to take an interdisciplinary approach and speak with entities across campus in programs beyond the college,” Brienen said. “So much of our everyday lives are impacted by art — the design of Theta Pond and the beautiful gardens around campus are both examples of art that appear in somewhat unconventional ways.” Brienen aims to gather voices from a range of areas and departments to create centralization. “I am realizing that there are so many people across campus contributing to the arts in one way or another and things are very siloed,” Brienen said. “I hope to identify the resources and talents that OSU currently has and present a way to strengthen and unite them to contribute to the strategic plan.” As a first-generation American and a first-generation college student, Dr. Steph Link’s journey to the workforce came with challenges. For that reason, she has taken the leap to assist in both the academic and future career journeys of OSU students through her faculty fellow assignment, “Preparing the Future Workforce.” “When the call for fellows was announced, I knew I could contribute to how we prepare students for the future workforce by utilizing my own personal and professional background to help better understand the diverse experiences that lead students to OSU,” Link said. “I have a vision for supporting students on their path to acquiring the core competencies that will enable them to confidently lead our workforce into an undefined future.” The approach Link is taking to move OSU’s strategy forward is rooted in convergent collaborations. Her vision for the future of student support and and industry partners to the table. “I want prospective students to come to OSU and already see how our university will lead them on a path to becoming our world’s innovators,” Link said. “To do this, we need to bring together the many wonderful opportunities our community has to in those experiences paired with their degree programs can enable them to acquire the core competencies of an ideal graduate. “There are many amazing members of our CAS community that contribute to our college in special ways that improve the quality of the student experience and thus the quality of education at OSU. By representing the college as a fellow, I only hope to place myself amongst them all by being an active listener with an opportunity to share their voices in a way that will unify our campus toward a shared mission.” In addition to Provost Mendez and OSU Faculty Fellows Knapp, Mix, Brienen and Link, there are many other CAS faculty members and alumni serving in universitywide leadership roles. They include: Vice Provost | Chris Francisco (Math) Interim Vice Provost and Dean of the College of Professional Studies at OSU-Tulsa | Craig Freeman (SMSC) Interim Dean, Honors College | Richard Frohock (English) CAS Interim Dean, Dean of Honors College | Keith Garbutt (Plant Biology) Vice President, Institutional Diversity | Jason Kirksey (Political Science) Associate Provost and Dean, OSU Global | Randy Kluver (SMSC) Registrar | Rita Peaster (Math) Vice President, Research | Kenneth Sewell (Psychology) Interim Dean, Graduate College | Jean Van Delinder (Sociology) Senior Associate Vice President, Research | Ron Van Den Bussche (Integrative Biology) 22 CONNECT 2023