Dr. Paul Adams accepts Anschutz chair, becomes FHSU's first endowed professor
05/29/2003

When Dr. Paul Adams moves across campus to a new office and a new job, he will be broadening his teaching career, not changing its direction.

During a news conference today on the Fort Hays State University campus, President Edward H. Hammond announced that Adams, currently a professor of physics, had been selected for the Marian Pfister Anschutz Endowed Professorship in Education.

Almost a year ago, in June 2002, Dr. Hammond announced that a generous gift from Philip Frederick Anschutz and Sue Anschutz-Rodgers and the Anschutz Family Foundation would be leveraged with money from a new program created by the Kansas Board of Regents to create an endowed chair in the FHSU College of Education and Technology.

"Phil and Sue donated $300,000 in memory of their mother, an FHSU alumna, for Fort Hays State University's first endowed chair," the president said. "We hope and believe it will be the first of many endowed chairs for the FHSU faculty."

Under the Faculty of Distinction Program that it created in 2001, the Kansas Board of Regents matches the annual earnings of the $300,000 Anschutz gift and those combined annual earnings from the endowment help pay for the new faculty position.

Adams received a bachelor's degree in physics and math from Heidelberg College, Tiffin, OH, in 1983; a master's degree in physics, with certification as a physics and math teacher, from Washington State University, Pullman, WA, in 1986; and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in science education (physics and earth systems) from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, in 1996. He came to FHSU in 1986 as an instructor of physics, left in 1989, and then returned to the FHSU Physics Department in 1996.

To fill the Anschutz chair, Adams will move from his Tomanek Hall office and the College of Arts and Sciences to Rarick Hall and the College of Education and Technology, and President Hammond predicted the transition would be a smooth one.

"Paul Adams has been a leader in cross-disciplinary studies, he has established a reputation as a successful grant writer, and his students and fellow faculty members recognize him as an energetic and innovative classroom teacher," the president said. "He is well equipped by both education and experience to maximize the potential of FHSU's first endowed chair."

Adams said he was excited by the opportunity to broaden his career path from physics and science education to include his training in teaching methods and curriculum assessment.

Adams said the endowed chair would empower him to look for ways to use the collective talents of FHSU faculty to develop quality teachers for western Kansas. "I see this opportunity as a mandate to build up partnerships in the education arena," Adams said.

Creation of the Marian Pfister Anschutz Endowed Professorship allows implementation of a plan to make more effective use of the Plymouth Schoolhouse, a 127-year-old, one-room school that was moved years ago to the FHSU campus. The old building is in excellent shape, and the new chair provides resources for the mission of using the historic school to impart its heritage and assist in the development of teachers for rural Kansas.

Adams noted that FHSU should function as a bridge to education in Kansas communities. "We will be a resource to them for effectively incorporating technology, inquiry learning strategies, as well as other applicable teaching strategies and innovations," Adams explained. "As we build partnerships on the campus and with the schools of western Kansas, the Plymouth Schoolhouse provides perspective on the integral role of FHSU in western Kansas education. As we contemplate where we were, where we are and where we're heading, the schoolhouse showcases the past era."

The schoolhouse's collections of books, scientific equipment and county schoolteacher interviews have been made available over the Internet (www.fhsu.edu/coe/schoolhouse.shtml). With its extensive 19th and early 20th century textbook collection, the historic school allows students and scholars the opportunity to do major research. The Plymouth Schoolhouse is visited each year by thousands of school children, who leave with a better understanding of what education was like in western Kansas at the beginning of the last century. "It gives a long-term connection and a future vision for the federal mandate of 'No Child Left Behind,' " Adams added.

In addition to managing the historic Plymouth Schoolhouse, the endowed chair assumes other duties within the College of Education and Technology: teaching courses in K-8 science and math methods as well as in curriculum assessment; providing leadership in seeking external funding for education-related projects; and providing leadership in the assessment of the FHSU teacher education program.

Adams thanked the late Dr. Maurice Witten, former chair of the FHSU Physics Department, for helping to shape his interest in a cross-disciplinary approach to education and the current chair, Dr. Lou Caplan, for allowing him the latitude to pursue it. He also gave credit to his dissertation advisor at Purdue, Dr. Gerald Krockover, who encouraged him to become an agent for change within the education community.

Adams gave special thanks to his family. He said his wife, Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, and their four children, David, 13, Megan, 11, and twins Erin and Eric, 3, supported him in his education and in the other activities, such as building cross-disciplinary teams and writing grants, that brought him to this new opportunity.

He also pledged to stay involved with the FHSU Astronomy Club, which is popular with students as well as with the members of the local community who flock to the club's many stargazing open houses.


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