From the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
News and Notes
Todd Compton

Leonard Rosenband: Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award

Dr. Leonard Rosenband, professor of history in Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, recently was announced as the recipient of the 2014 Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award. The award honors “teachers of history who taught, guided, and inspired their students in a way that changed their lives.”

The honor is bestowed on a three-year cycle that rewards in turn, graduate mentors (including combined graduate and undergraduate teaching); secondary school teachers; and undergraduate mentors (both two- and four-year colleges), for which Rosenband won.

Former students speak of a passion for history brought into the classroom each and every day…unfailingly.

But Rosenband is humble about his ability to connect with students and make the long ago lives of historical figures become real and immediate to 21st century students.

“The only physical apparatus I use in the classroom is a map,” he explained. “Otherwise I use my learning and the power of narrative. Narrative is the great strength that historians have at their disposal.”

Rosenband, who received his PhD at Princeton University, began teaching at Utah State in 1983. For more than 30 years, he has taught an undergraduate Survey of Western Civilization course along with an undergraduate class on the French Revolution that has a continual waiting list. He also teaches senior and graduate seminars. Rosenband plans to retire at the end of this academic year.

“Professor Rosenband is an excellent example of a high caliber scholar/teacher,” said John Allen, dean of USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “He represents our continual goal to hire high quality scholars who have excellent teaching skills. We are very fortunate that Professor Rosenband chose USU to make his career.”


Melody Graulich: Mary C. Turpie Prize

Melody Graulich, professor of English in Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences was this year’s winner of the American Studies Association Mary C. Turpie Prize. Established in 1993, the Turpie Prize honors a person who has demonstrated outstanding abilities and achievement in American Studies teaching, advising, and program development.

Graulich is a member of the American Studies Association and serves as president of the regional group, the Rocky Mountain American Studies Association. She has twice received WLA’s Delbert and Edith Wylder Award for Longtime Service, the only person to be so honored. She also received the Susan Rosowski Award for Creative Teaching and Mentoring in 2012.

“Ever since she arrived at Utah State in 1997, Melody has done more than any other faculty member I have worked with here or elsewhere to recruit promising American Studies graduate students, consult closely with them during their years at Utah State and help them move to the next phase of life,” said colleague and USU Professor of English Paul Crumbley.

A distinguished scholar, Graulich is the author or editor of seven books, most recently Dirty Words in Deadwood: Literature and the Postwestern. She is the recipient of the Delmont R. Oswald Research Grant from Utah Humanities Council. Selected as editor of Western American Literature in 1997, Graulich came to Utah State University from the University of New Hampshire, where she held the Class of 1938 Professorship for Excellence in Teaching.


Matthew Laplante: Aaas Kavli Sciencejournalism Award

Matthew LaPlante is an assistant professor of journalism in USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and a working journalist. Recently, LaPlante was honored as a 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award winner.

LaPlante shared the award with his former student, Paul Christiansen, who co-authored their article Devastated: The World’s Largest Organism is in Utah — and It’s Dying, which won in the prestigious competition’s “Small Newspaper — Circulation less that 100,000” category. The winning story documents “Pando’s” struggle for survival in the face of boring insects, casually carved graffiti, infections, climate change, and more.

Pando is Latin for “I spread.”

The name aptly describes and purposefully personifies a huge grove of genetically identical aspen woods that are in reality one organism linked through a massive interconnected root system that snakes its way under and through the more than 430,000 square meters of Utah’s Sevier County soil. The expanse of aspen “clones” is officially the worlds largest living organism, one that is estimated to be somewhere in the ancient neighborhood of about 80,000-years-old. “I’d like to think this project is an example of how to make science alluring — even romantic — without exaggerating the scope of the research, confusing our audience, or pandering to anyone,” LaPlante said. The American Association for the Advancement of Science — AAAS — is the largest general scientific society in the nation. The organization’s Kavli Science Journalism Awards have been awarded since 1945 to “professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience.”


Digital Folklore Project: Digital Trend of the Year

Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Science’s Digital Folklore Project included a goal of tracking digital folklore trends such as urban legends, Internet memes, hashtags, vines, and more. It is housed within USU’s Department of English and hosted by the Folklore Program and the Fife Folklore Archives in the Merrill-Cazier Library The project was spearheaded and co-founded by Jeannie Thomas, professor of folklore and English department head, and Lynne McNeill, director of online development. Their research team, made up of undergraduate and graduate students, assessed data to determine the inaugural award winner.

Announced December 15, #BlackLivesMatter was named as the 2014 Digital Trend of the Year. #BlackLivesMatter is a Twitter hashtag that gained popularity after the events of Ferguson, Missouri, where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer. After a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to acquit a white police officer accused of using a chokehold on Eric Garner, another unarmed black man who later died from his injuries, the hashtag became almost ubiquitous on Twitter, galvanizing protests and “die-ins” nationwide. “Black Lives Matter became a home for personal experience narratives and a national conversation about race,” said Dr. Jeannie B. Thomas, co-director of DFP. “Black Lives Matter captures an historic moment in American race relations.”

Coming in at a tie for second place were the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and #NotYourMascot. #NotYourMascot is a hashtag started by Native protestors to change the names of such athletics franchises as the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, names that are considered by many to be racial slurs. Other finalists included #GamerGate, Robin Williams visual memorials, #YesAllWomen, and #CelebGate2014.