Douglass not the retiring sort
By John Wheeler
Midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. The moment that signaled the start of a new millennium also marked the beginning of retirement for Nevada professor emeritus William Douglass. After 33 years heading the university's Basque Studies Program, he opted for early retirement. The biggest change so far?
"At the end of the month I don't get a paycheck any more," he says with a laugh.
Apart from that, not much has changed. Douglass can be found in his office on campus "seven days a week" — at least when he's in town. As a renowned authority on the Basque people and their culture, he's frequently invited to conferences around the world.
"This year is incredibly busy for me," he says. "I scarcely notice that I retired three years ago. From a research and writing standpoint, I'm a lot busier now than I was when I was coordinating the program."
Douglass is currently involved in six book projects, including a new work about Basques in the Antipodes. He's revising and editing several of his books prior to reprint, as well as assisting the Basque government in publishing a collection of 20 of his essays.
The emeritus experience has been an eye opener for Douglass.
"When I was a staff member here, I didn't realize how productive a lot of emeriti are," he says. "I'm not the Lone Ranger."
He points to other emeriti, such as Jerome Edwards, Joe Crowley, James Hulse and Elmer Rusco, who are all still actively researching and writing.
"I think it's an unrecognized resource that the university has going for it," he says. "All this stuff I'm doing, I'm doing under the auspices of the University of Nevada. When I'm out there, that's the banner I'm flying."
Douglass researches and writes because he enjoys it. "I love it and would probably go crazy if I didn't do it," he says. Freed from his administrative duties, he's been able to head in some new literary directions, most notably a fishing book, Casting About in the Reel World.
"It's a lot of angling adventures I've had over the last quarter century," he says. "When I was running the Basque Studies Program I never could justify sitting down and doing that because I had so many other obligations."
He's also finding a new audience and fielding requests for book signings and other public appearances. "This book seems to have a lot more popular appeal than the academic books I write," he says.
The Silver Scholar program, honoring the top high school juniors from throughout the state, has swung into action yet again this spring. The University of Nevada Alumni Association presents each Silver Scholar — high school juniors who rank academically in the top 10 percent of their class — with a new, hardcover 10th edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and a Silver Scholar certificate.
"The Silver Scholar program provides an opportunity to showcase the bright future of Nevada," says Dr. Lisa Marie Lyons, medical director at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, graduate of the University of Nevada and Alumni Council member. "The program is much more than a certificate and a new dictionary. It helps reinforce the importance of education. It gives the students and their families exposure to our great university.
"The Silver Scholar program is a plus for the top students of our state's high schools and for the state of Nevada."
— John Trent
A working partnership between the Davidson Institute in Reno and Nevada nanotechnology researcher Jesse Adams has provided a 15-year-old Galena High School student an opportunity to work with nanoscience researchers at the university.
Galena student Breanden Beneschott was looking for a chance to explore his interest of science. He got his chance when the Davidson Institute awarded Beneschott a $1,000 scholarship and Adams, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, offered the teenager an internship to help with literature searches, construction of liquid cells and research.
"It is nice to have such a talented and motivated high school student interested in this program," Adams said. "We've provided an opportunity for him to have a cutting-edge research experience right here in Reno."
— Jennifer Sanzi
USA Funds, a non-profit, Indianapolis-based corporation serving as the designated guarantor of federal student loans for Nevada, has allocated $75,000 to support the university's three-year-old Dean's Future Scholars Program.
The College of Education invites sixth-grade scholars from northern Nevada's most ethnically diverse schools to sample life at the university. Students are selected based on academic achievement, school participation and potential for being members of the first generation in their families to attend college. As they progress through middle and high school, these prospective teachers are invited back to campus for reunion conferences.
A $50,000 USA Funds donation in 2002 allowed the program to host its first summer institute.
During the program's first 10 years, the college expects to reach about 550 students in the Washoe County School District.
"The first group of Dean's Future Scholars will graduate from high school in 2006, and we are looking forward to the day when they can call themselves education students at the University of Nevada, Reno," says College of Education Dean William Sparkman. "We are grateful for the strong support and commitment of USA Funds to this important program."
— Pat McDonnell
Manoranjan Misra, professor and chairman of the Division of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering at Nevada, has been named the winner of the 2002 Rudolf W. Gunnerman Silver State Award for Excellence in Science and Technology.
Misra, a nationally recognized leader in environmental remediation and biotechnology, has made several advances in removing radioactive particles from soil, toxic metals from drinking water and cleaning up pollutants discarded in the wastes of mining operations. His successes have brought a number of commercially valuable patents to the university, including several patents from the DuPont Company.
The award, which includes a minted medal and $25,000 prize, was presented at the Nevada Development Authority's annual luncheon meeting at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas in November. Established in 2000 by Reno industrialist and inventor Rudolf Gunnerman, the award recognizes scientific and technological achievements that are based on work conducted primarily within Nevada. The Gunnerman Award is administered by the Desert Research Institute, which solicits candidates nationwide.
— John Trent