College of Liberal Arts faculty members ring in new year celebrating personal success

Three members of the College of Liberal Arts earn prestigious awards

The Stewart Indian School project team learns to lay out test units with a tribal elder at the project site.

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12/28/2018 | By: Lisa McDonald |

Amidst preparing for final exams, grading papers and projects, College of Liberal Arts faculty continually find time to earn personal achievements in their fields. This winter is not an exception, with three faculty members earning top awards, which highlight the exceptional expertise in the College.

Professor Emeritus of Basque Studies, William Douglass, was recently presented with the Alumni Medal from the University of Chicago. The Alumni Medal is one of the highest honors awarded by the University of Chicago and recognizes achievement of an exceptional nature in any field over an entire career. Douglass earned his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1966 and 1967 respectively.

Douglass is also an alumnus of the University of Nevada, Reno earning his bachelor's degree in Spanish. He is the founder of the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and is the author or co-author of several dozen books and hundreds of articles. He is also the only individual other than the president of a nation to have received the Basque Country's Lagun Onari ("to a good friend") award, its highest recognition of non-Basque persons or institutions.

"The Center's success created me as much as I created it," Douglass said. "It is my hope that my recent recognition by the University of Chicago further underscores the academic importance and uniqueness of the University's Center for Basque Studies."

Johnson Makoba, professor of sociology, was recently awarded with a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship. He will travel next summer to Clarke International University in Kampala, Uganda to work with Rose Nanyonga, Vice Chancellor of co-curriculum development and teaching methods. Makoba said his project will explore critical steps in curriculum development and re-design, and will link curricular content to program and student learning goals. This is the second time Makoba has received this award.

This project is part of a broader initiative that will pair 51 African Diaspora scholars with one of 43 higher education institutions and collaborators in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to work together on curriculum co-development, research, graduate teaching, training and mentoring activities in the next year. The visiting fellows will work with their hosts on a wide range of projects including controlling malaria, strengthening peace and conflict studies, developing a new master's degree in emergency medicine, and archiving African indigenous knowledge.

"This fellowship will give me the opportunity to share my vast teaching and research experience at the University of Nevada, Reno with my colleagues at Clarke International University," Makoba said. "Although the two contexts of higher education are different, they share similar challenges and aspirations for delivering a quality education."

Related Academic Programs

Finally, the Stewart Indian School Project - a project to preserve the school in Carson City, Nevada - has been given the Society for Historical Archaeology's Mark E. Mack Community Engagement Award. This project was awarded for providing highly valuable service by collaborating with stakeholders, such as descendant communities, in projects addressing the histories of minority populations. This was a collaborative project with individuals from the University, Nevada Indian Commission and Washoe Tribal Historic Preservation Office and participants from several regional tribes. Associate Professor of Anthropology, Sarah Cowie, is one of the project contributors.

"It is such an honor for our team to receive this recognition, and it wouldn't have been possible without the entire team of contributors," Cowie said. "We shared a larger goal of bringing attention to the site, which can teach the public about resiliency in Native communities."

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