Archive for Saturday, June 25, 1994

SABBATICALS RECHARGE KU PROFS

June 25, 1994

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KU professors look back on their time off from normal teaching and service duties.

Law professor Richard Levy started a sabbatical confident that he would finish writing a book on federalism as it related to European unification.

But the more the Kansas University scholar delved into the issue, the more he realized how much was yet to be considered and written.

"It became clear there had to be a third section to the book. I made a lot of progress in conceptualizing the third part," said Levy, who considers his fall 1993 sabbatical a success despite not completing the book.

During the leave, Levy did finish a lengthy paper on economic rights of Americans that will be published soon. As a bonus, he spent this spring semester in Austria on a faculty exchange program.

He thinks the time away from regular campus duties rejuvenated him. He expects law students to benefit from his new-found energy.

"It's useful to recharge your batteries for teaching," Levy said.

Into the 'real world'

Levy's experience wasn't unusual, judging from interviews with some of the 55 KU faculty who were on sabbatical during the 1993-94 academic year.

Everything rarely turned out exactly as visioned by sabbatical recipients. Such is the fate of researchers testing theories and challenging assumptions.

Dennis Rosen, associate professor of business, planned to study Yellow Pages advertising during his fall 1993 sabbatical.

"Most Yellow Pages advertisers don't have a lot information about what is effective," he said. "What is the importance of color? Size? What features are important?"

His objective was to travel across the United States to meet with Yellow Pages sales staff, retailers and customers. He also was to launch a multiyear research program.

"I didn't run any of my research," Rosen said.

Instead, Rosen hooked up with Sprint. He decided to reorganize the research program to allow for a collaborative effort with Sprint's publishing and advertising staff.

"This will speed the research. There will be quicker turnaround," Rosen said. "It moved the work into the 'real' world. The results will have implications for a larger population."

Literary legwork

Another sabbatical benefactor, Burdett Loomis, took the entire academic year off to research, write and edit several books.

One of his goals was to craft a biography of U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. The senator has been mentioned as a possible 1996 presidential candidate.

Loomis, professor of political science, wasn't able to bring his view of Dole's life to print. Apparently, the senator was lukewarm to the idea of a biography.

"Nothing moved forward on that," Loomis said.

Loomis did publish a book about Kansas government in the middle of his sabbatical. "Time, Politics and Policies -- A Legislative Year" was issued in January by University Press of Kansas.

He also did legwork on a book about Congress. The idea is to chronicle how Congress has become a highly decentralized, individualistic body.

"The book will be about how difficult it is to pull those forces together to make coherent policy," he said.

Rediscovered love

Some faculty get exactly what they expect from a sabbatical.

Lee Gerhard, director of Kansas Geological Survey at KU, tested the water with a theory about reef growth and locating oil deposits. He also studied the effect of changing sea levels.

"I didn't find anything in conflict with my theories," he said. "The only problem the sabbatical gave me was that I found out again why I became a geologist."

He loved spending July to November 1993 in the field.

"It made it difficult to return to administrative work."

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