FHSU revives 'Fort Hays Studies' research series

A third booklet in the rejuvenated "Fort Hays Studies" series has just been published, and Fort Hays State University marked the occasion with a news conference and reception this morning in the Dreiling Lobby of Sheridan Hall.

" 'Fort Hays Studies' has been sponsored by the Graduate School since the late '30s," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "Interest in the series waned somewhat during the 1990s and during the first few years of the new century. However, recent events suggest that the publication’s best days may be yet to come. During the spring semester of 2005, Dr. Tom Jackson, then-dean of Graduate Studies and Research who has since retired, revived 'Fort Hays Studies' and gave it a bold new look and a renewed sense of purpose. Dr. Steven Trout, interim dean of the Graduate School, has continued to provide the leadership necessary to keep the series thriving."

"FHSU turned an important corner in its history by establishing the scholarly monograph series in 1939," Dean Trout said. He said the first volume, "Half Hours with Choral Speech" by Pearl Giddings Cruise, contained a preface by editor F.B. Streeter that outlined the project’s scope: "The Fort Hays Kansas State College is beginning, with this monograph, the publication of a series of special studies written by faculty members and graduate students of this college. The plans call for the publication of a series of monographs in each of the following fields: Education, Literature, Psychology, Science and Social Science."

Trout said that during the nearly seven decades that have passed since its founding, the "Fort Hays Studies" series has served as a crucial venue for scholarship that might not find a home elsewhere.

"Most of the works contained in the series are too short to appeal to academic book publishers and, at the same time, too lengthy for scholarly journals," he explained. "In addition, the subject material is sometimes of a highly specific, local nature and thus inappropriate for external publication. The series has, however, never lacked variety. Selecting volumes at random, one finds studies of Kansas literature, the history of the occult, Clinical Psychology, the flora and fauna of the Great Plains, small-town economics, and classical violin music. Going well beyond its original mission, the series, which now numbers nearly 60 volumes, has come to include writings from almost every discipline represented on the FHSU campus."

Trout directed much of the credit for the new success of the series to Dr. Bradley Will, FHSU's director of composition and current editor of "Fort Hays Studies." "The first two volumes edited by Dr. Will -- one a study of faculty retirement plans, the other an analysis of local climate change -- are among the finest that 'Fort Hays Studies' has seen," Trout said. "Our celebration of this long-standing series, a unique and innovative FHSU tradition, is prompted today by the publication of the latest volume by Dr. Robert Rook, a former FHSU history professor." Rook's monograph is " 'The Eleventh Commandment' and A Land of Promise: Walter Clay Lowdermilk and the Middle East, 1937-1944."

Will said he was proud to be a part of the restoration of the "Fort Hays Studies" series. "It has been a joy to work with such talented authors, and I'm particularly happy to be able to make such a broad range of scholarship available to the public," he said. "The next issue of 'Fort Hays Studies' will be Mark Eberle's study of fish species present in the streams and waterways of western Kansas. Following that, we will devote an issue to the study of the impact of mobile computing on the Fort Hays State campus."

Authors of the other two recent "Fort Hays Studies" booklets also spoke at the news conference. Dr. Carl Parker, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, spoke on behalf of himself and fellow authors Dr. Bill Rickman, professor emeritus of economics, Dr. Rory Terry, associate professor of economics and finance, and Dr. Tom Johansen, associate professor of economics and finance, about their monograph, "Retirement Plans, Attitudes, and Expectations of Kansas Board of Regents Faculty."

"This monograph summarizes the results of a survey mailed to 1,850 tenure-track faculty age 50 and over at all Kansas Regents universities," Parker said. "The primary focus of the study was to gather data that would provide a better understanding of the factors that influence faculty retirement decisions. The retirement-age decision is multifaceted, complex and is affected by many economic and non-economic variables. This study provides information concerning a number of these factors."

The last speaker was Dr. John Heinrichs, chair of the Department of Geosciences, who wrote "The climate of Hays, Kansas from 1867 to 1999: Variability, Trends, and Influences."

"I analyzed over 130 years of climate records using a variety of statistical methods," he said. "Significant conclusions from this research include that precipitation is much more variable than temperature, and relative variability is greatest in the wintertime for both temperature and precipitation."

He found that over the period of record, the average annual temperature of Hays has increased by about 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, with a much faster increase over the last 30 years.

"Major cycles present in the temperature series were identified at 56, 11, and 3.5 to 4 years," he said. "No trend was found over the period in total annual precipitation, and major cycles present in the precipitation series were identified at 3.5 to 4 and 23 years, the latter confirming the popular perception of floods occurring about every 20 years. The analysis of possible influences on Hays climate revealed a rich and complex pattern of relationships. Temperature is strongly influenced by the North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation and moderately by the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Hays temperature is also related strongly to the Northern Hemispheric and global average temperatures, and this relationship is a combination of the effects of changes in atmospheric CO2 and solar radiation. Precipitation in Hays is strongly tied to the ENSO cycle --- El Nino years are associated with increased precipitation and La Nino years with reduced precipitation."

He said the patterns and trends identified in the study should be of benefit to a variety of stakeholders, including agricultural producers and disaster managers as well as the public at large.

Trout said future issues of "Fort Hays Studies" would continue to reflect the wide variety of research interests and areas of expertise found among the faculty at FHSU. "At the same time, plans are under way for selected volumes to examine broader subjects, such as mobile learning, that will be of interest to the entire FHSU learning community -- and beyond," Trout said.

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