Some of Sarah Hargus Ferguson's students can't understand why she's so excited to see western Kansas.
But Ferguson, in her third year as a faculty member in Kansas University's speech-language-hearing department, can't wait to hit the road this summer with other faculty and staff as part of the Wheat State Whirlwind tour.
"I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "The people who have been before almost have this cultlike reverence to it."
KU has conducted the tour since 1997 as a way to introduce faculty and staff new to Kansas to the people and terrain of the state. The tour skipped a year in 2002 because of budget cuts.
Thirty-four faculty members are scheduled to log 1,500 miles during the tour, which will begin May 20 and continue May 23-27.
The group will stop at more than 25 cities. Stops include the Duff Ranch in Logan County, a wheat farm near Palco, the Grass Roots Art Center in Lucas and Mine Creek Battlefield in Linn County. A full schedule can be found at www.wheatstate.ku.edu.
"We often hear from faculty who have been on previous Wheat State Whirlwind tours that they have felt more connected with their students after visiting in many of their hometowns," said Don Steeples, a vice provost and co-director of the tour.
For Ferguson, who grew up in New Jersey, the tour is a chance to feel more at home on the Great Plains.
"I still have 'Jersey girl' moments," she said. "The places where the (KU) kids come from are so much different from where I grew up."
|Kansas University faculty and staff scheduled to participate in this year's Wheat State Whirlwind tour and their departments:Michael Baskett, theater and film; Jae Chang, architecture; Mary Chappell, recreation services; Andrea Charbonneau, internal medicine; Xue-Wen Chen, electrical engineering; Heidi Chumley, family medicine; Joyce Claterbos, business; Deborah Dandridge, Spencer Research Library; Joseph Dien, psychology; Steven Epstein, history; Jean Epstein, provost's office; Le-Thu Erazmus, preventive medicine;Alassane Fall, African and African-American studies; Sarah Hargus Ferguson, speech-language-hearing; Lisa Gilmer, pediatrics; Richard Hale, aerospace engineering; Sara Hart, nursing; James Hudson, music and dance; Genna Hurd, policy research institute; Roy Jensen, Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute; Karen Kramer, preventive medicine and public health; Peggy Kuhr, journalism;Nancy Lott, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Elizabeth Montgomery-Anderson, business; Marci Nielsen, health policy and management; Laurie Phillips-Crees, Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center; Judy L. Postmus, social welfare; Jean Redeker, continuing education; Paula Rhode, preventive medicine;Jodi Simek, Russian and East European studies; Heidi Simon, admissions and scholarships; Renee Van Erp, external affairs-School of Medicine; Alan Warne, continuing education; George Wilson, chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry; Qizhuang Ye, Higuchi Biosciences Center.|