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Dr. Tesfau Alexander

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Tesfa Alexander, Ph.D. has been an outstanding member of the University of Memphis since his days as a doctoral student in health communication. As a doctoral student, he spent two summers in Uganda working with both biomedical and indigenous providers to understand how trust shapes working relationships with providers and health-seeking behaviors. This work resulted in his dissertation entitled, “Engaging Rural Community Members as Problem Solvers: Application of Health Communication to Improve the Quality of Health Care in Southwest Uganda” that he completed and defended in Fall 2010. Dr. Alexander completed his dissertation under the direction of Mandy Young, and he reports that Dr. Young as well as other faculty provided him with a strong background in health communication theory.

Dr. Alexander has been able to translate this knowledge of theory into practice. Upon completion of his doctoral degree, Dr. Alexander completed a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Currently, he is employed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). At the FDA, he leads all of the research and evaluation in health communication and education for the Center for Tobacco Products. He and his team guide formative research that results in smoking prevention advertisements aimed at youth age 12-17 and other at-risk populations. Dr. Alexander has been able to take the knowledge he gained during his doctoral program about how to impact the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of youth and apply and evaluate the impact of his work on a national scale.

Dr. Alexander’s impact extends beyond his work at the FDA. Recently, he has started the I Am Photo Project, http://iamphotoproject.com/.  In this project, forty-six African American men from seventeen U.S. cities tell their stories. Dr. Alexander started this project as a way to constructively channel emotions about death of Trayvon Martin and other tragic events that stem from erroneous stereotypes of black men. He hopes that his photo project will be an educational tool for critical reflection on negative stereotypes that are associated with being a black man. The project has been featured on MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/photo-project-amplifies-voices-of-black-men-326002755720 and Buzzfeed, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/one-artists-journey-to-photograph-the-black-men-of-america?utm_term=3m75i39#2vew8sd

Tesfa Alexander is a University of Memphis alumnus who is making a big impact on a national scale. Yet, he also makes time to give back to the University of Memphis serving as an adjunct for the health communication program. The University of Memphis is proud of alumni like Dr. Alexander that are making a big impact.

 

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2.3 Million Grant Funds NCPC

Posted by: | October 27, 2014 | No Comment |

The Center for Information Assurance, led by Dr. Dipankar Dasgupta, will share in a $2.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant funds the work of the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC), a five university consortium that includes The University of Memphis, the University of Texas, San Antonio, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Norwich University, and Texas A & M University. Norwich University is the lead institution on this $2.3 grant.

The consortium will develop and deliver four web-based, just-in-time courses on cybersecurity that can be accessed by communities throughout the United States. The courses address how to develop a cybersecurity annex, how to manage a cybersecurity incident, how to defend against cyberterrorism, and first responding during a cyberterrorism incident.

This new FEMA grant follows up on the work of the ACT Online program. ACT Online was funded by a $4.2 million grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security from 2006-2010. The ACT Online project developed a series of ten courses on cybersecurity. More than 50,000 people have successfully completed this training.

The Center for Information Assurance will also be hosting the sixth annual Midsouth Cybersecurity Summit from October 16-17, 2014. The summit will feature eight speakers including representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation, and members of the consortium. It is anticipated that 150-200 people will participate in the summit. More information about the work of the Center for Information Assurance can be found on their website: http://cfia.memphis.edu/index.php

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We’re very excited to announce major funding for Susan Neely-Barnes, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work along with her colleagues Elena Delavega and Susan Elswick, Assistant Professors.  They have been awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals Grant, $473,892 during year one with a possible $1.4 million over a three year period.

The grant will fund the establishment of the Mid-South Social Work Professional Development Initiative (MSW-PDI) which will train 102 advanced Master of Social Work students over a three to four year period on: violence prevention; integration of behavioral health and primary care; working with transition age youth; interprofessional education; engagement with families; and cultural and linguistic competency. Students participating in the program will have experiential training and provide direct services to children, adolescents, or transition age adults in the Mid-South region. Trainees will also receive a $10,000 stipend.

This grant’s goal, part of a White House “Now is the Time” initiative, is to train more quality behavioral health professionals with a commitment to serve populations who are at-risk or have developed a behavioral health disorder. The grant, in response to school shootings and other national tragedies involving youth and gun violence, focuses on transition age youth who are the least likely among the population to receive continuous services.

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Effective May 16, 2014, M. David Rudd became the 12th president of the University of Memphis.  Please visit his new blog at http://blogs.memphis.edu/president/

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Dear Colleagues:

 Our University of Memphis held a particularly inspiring event last week when the graduating class of the University of Memphis Lambuth Campus was recognized at a Baccalaureate Ceremony there. We had seventy-seven spring & summer graduates eligible to participate, nearly twice last year’s number.  Almost half graduated with honors. More than fifty actually participated in the event. The Chapel on campus was filled to capacity  (660) with standees in the back, and Associate Dean, Dr. Linda Brice recalls, “After talking with one of our security officers last night he said there were also large crowds of people outside the chapel who could not get in so our numbers were probably even higher!!!”

 Manager, Student and Academic Services for the Lambuth Campus Lisa A. Warmath found the ceremony especially moving. “I feared that we would lose a bit of the “personal” touch as we’d more than doubled the number of graduates since last year,” she says.  “I have to admit, I was wrong.  Of the three Baccalaureate Ceremonies that I’ve coordinated here, this group by far was the most energetic and engaged and I feel that I had a better rapport with them than previous groups.”    

 For many of our students and their families, this serves as a special ceremony for them, since many of their guests cannot get to Memphis for the actual Commencement.  Lisa Warmath remembers: “This year, there were many who mentioned this to me as we prepared for the event–they understood that Baccalaureate didn’t replace Commencement, but it was very much appreciated that the opportunity was there for them and their families.  This is the first year that I’ve had students share that sentiment with me.  It reinforces the decision to hold a Baccalaureate Ceremony here–it’s part of being the “small” campus atmosphere within the larger university.”

 Maintaining a long-held tradition from the previous Lambuth academic days was important to preserve. Dr. Dan Lattimore, Dean of the Lambuth Campus, explains:  “One old Lambuth tradition that they continued was that as they marched out of the chapel, students (and some of us) marched through the administration building and out the front gates to the school symbolizing their graduating from the school.”  This goes back to an old Lambuth University tradition that has been reinstated on a couple of levels.  When students enroll for the first time, they “enter” the campus/ university through the Williams gates on Lambuth Boulevard–it’s a symbolic march during New Student Convocation in August.  When students graduate, they “exit” the gates for the last time, symbolically leaving campus & heading into the new world as graduates.  When they marched out of the Chapel during the recessional, Dr. Lattimore and I accompanied them on their “exit journey.” For Lisa Warmath,  “this was probably the highlight of the evening!” I could not agree more.

 Go Tigers!

 

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Dear Colleagues:

The University’s initiative to enhance graduate funding for key programs this year is already reaping tremendous benefits in the Department of Communication.  Based on their recent analysis, next year is shaping up to be the sort of success that we all hoped was possible, and demonstrates the remarkable difference these enhancements can make when they are strategically applied.

Graduate Coordinator Tony de Velasco reports: “We will enroll three new PhD GAs funded because of the enhanced stipend, two full-time PhDs who will receive 1st – Generation Fellowships, and two part-time PhDs who are coming to us self-funded.  Three applicants accepted our offer for MA funding, while two applicants are coming to us full-time, self-funded.  We are still accepting applications, of course, and expect to admit additional self-funded students for F2014.  Our investment priorities for the F2014 admissions’ cycle were to:

  • Offer enhanced stipends to only our top PhD applicants
  • Target funding to applicants with potential to help grow research productivity in Health Communication 
  • Target funding to top MAs with demonstrated potential to feed into PhD.”

The number of new PhD applicants in COMM has increased by two-thirds over the program mean since 2007, with the highest number of new PhD applications in the program’s history this year. The news for self-funded (no university funds) graduate admissions is also impressive: over the past three years combined, the department enrolled only four such graduate students but this year they will enroll four for 2014 alone.

The department has made specific and concerted long-term strategies to bring greater quality and efficiency and focus to the graduate program in many ways, such as:

Deploy new and existing resources to increase new PhD stipends to grow research impact of Health Communication area and to remain competitive with peer institutions more generally

  • Aggressively recruit qualified PhD and MA applicants in all areas who can self fund or who qualify for existing funds available elsewhere
  • Fund qualified MA students in all areas who demonstrated research excellence and high probability for completing a PhD in the COMM program
  • Reduce and streamline total number of graduate course offerings to free up full-time faculty for more undergraduate teaching

“Streamlining our graduate course offerings seems like a small step, explains Communication Department Chair Leroy Dorsey, “but it goes hand-in-hand with the overall creative strategy in maximizing the additional funding to impact the graduate program greatly and, subsequently, impact other areas in the Department (i.e., tenured/ tenure-track faculty available to teach more undergraduate courses).  More efficient scheduling goes with our decision to reduce COMM’s overall number of GAs in order to foster the focused growth of our PhD program. Reducing the overall number of GAs, in short, enables us to increase the ratio of funded PhDs to MAs.”

Professor de Velasco summarizes: “The additional funding we received from the Provost’s office, along with the subsequent priorities and strategies influenced by that additional funding, will help to reposition COMM to grow its PhD strategically in all three of its research areas in the long term.” The department is a model of what is possible when enhanced funding is applied strategically to grow the department responsibly and within its own goals.  They are to be congratulated for their initiative, and the success it is already reaping.

 Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

The Center for Economic Education was established just over a decade ago by Dr. Julie Heath, a professor of economics and long-time department chair. When she retired to take a position at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Douglas Campbell, an Instructor in the Department of Economics, officially took over as Director in March 2012 and continues to guide its growing list of successes.

“As the name implies, the Center is focused on advancing the level and quality of economics and financial literacy education in the area,” explains Director Campbell. “Much of our efforts are focused on teaching teachers how to teach economics and personal finance. Toward that goal, I typically lead 12 professional development workshops each year for local teachers.  Teachers who attend these workshops receive free curriculum and training, not just on the lesson plans themselves, but on the economics concepts embedded in them. Most of the teachers who attend these workshops are from Shelby County and the surrounding area.” By focusing on training the trainers the Center is able to multiply its impact and numbers reached.

The curriculum is tied to state standards for economics and personal finance and, in most cases, is directly linked to specific Common Core State Standards, making it very valuable to local teachers. The curriculum is also easily integrated into other subject areas (like language arts, mathematics, and social studies) and covers all grade levels from kindergarten through high school. Thus, teachers can teach economics while teaching other subjects. Professor Campbell explains, “One of the most popular workshops I’ve led involves teaching economics using children’s literature, like Curious George and the Berenstain Bears, for lower elementary school teachers. This is very important, because the sooner we begin teaching young people about economics and personal finance, and the more we expose them to it, the greater the impact we will have.”

The Center also houses the Smart Tennessee program, which is a statewide financial literacy program focusing on grades K-8. That program employs a unique curriculum, Financial Fitness for Life, which is widely recognized as the leader in personal finance education. Smart Tennessee has reached every corner of the state and every type of district, from major cities like Memphis to rural areas. Smart Tennessee is recognized as a national leader in personal finance instruction and has been copied by other states like Texas. 
Just recently, the Center, along with the Federal Reserve Banks of Nashville and Memphis, sponsored the Economics Challenge and Personal Finance Challenge, two annual statewide competitions for high school students.

On a broader level, the activities of the Center are directed toward larger goals, like poverty reduction and social justice. Given that the Center is based in Memphis, which has the highest poverty rate of any large metropolitan area in the US, and among the highest rates of unbanked and underbanked households, enhancing and broadening economics and personal finance education is crucial to improving the quality of life and financial sustainability of our area. The work of the Center continues to be generously supported by First Tennessee Bank, and maintains valuable partnerships with local non-profits like the Grizzlies Foundation and RISE Memphis, and also works with the Shelby County Trustee’s Office on the Bank On Memphis program.

This is another example of the impact our University is having by pairing with a community partner to improve the life of Memphis children and families, and as Director Campbell says, “taking economics to the people.”

Go Tigers!

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Dear Colleagues:

I am very pleased to share that our efforts to identify a new leader for the Lambuth campus have been successful.  Dr. Niles Reddick has accepted my offer to be the new vice-provost for the Lambuth Campus, effective July 1, 2014.  Dr. Reddick is currently vice president for academic affairs at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia.  He earned a doctorate in humanities from Florida State University and has twenty years of experience in higher education teaching and administration.   A more detailed formal announcement will be released next week, but I thought it important to share the good news quickly. As you know, the success of our Lambuth campus is critical to the future of the University of Memphis and West Tennessee in general.  I have great confidence in Dr. Reddick’s ability to implement our strategic vision in Lambuth, strengthen community ties, and help grow our student base. Please join me in welcoming him to the University of Memphis. 

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) hosted a trivia night coupled with a poster presentation in the UC River Room last month that far surpassed their expectations.  The event served to: 1) recruit new physics majors, 2) attract new graduate students to the program, 3) a poster presentation to make known the research being conducted in the department of physics, and 4) social event for current SPS members. It was the first event of its kind out of the department of physics and the results were a huge success. The 78 attendees included Memphis SPS members, SPS members from both Rhodes College and Christian Brothers University (CBU), current students in introductory physics courses, physics graduate students, and physics faculty.

On the night of the event, students arrived at the University Center River Room to find informational materials about the physics major, SPS, Sigma Pi Sigma (the Physics Honor Society), and departmental research. The trivia game emceed by Dr. Robert Marchini included questions of General Knowledge, Science, and Memphis Trivia. During the half time the students presented a poster session to show the research they had been doing in the Physics department, as well as tables with physics demonstrations so attendees could experience the fundamental concepts of physics firsthand in a fun and interactive way.

Professor Marchini explains, “Since this event was the first of its kind for our department, it was quite a large undertaking for the SPS club and its officers. Everyone who attended had a fantastic time, and the department is very much looking forward to hosting it again next year, with even better results.”

 The Physics Trivia Night was funded by a MemphiSTEM Mini-Grant, with additional support from the Physics Department and Student Activities Allocation funds.  Congratulations to the students and faculty who made it all happen:  SPS faculty advisor Dr. Elizabeth Gire , Charissa Shiver,
Krystal Kirby , Justin Robbins, Catherine Boatwright, Timothy Hooker, Hunter Gore, Jack Dodson and Michael Caprio.

Everyone involved should be commended for this achievement, combining their love of learning with an event that advances the University recruitment efforts, enlightens the community and provides a fun evening, too.

 Go Tigers!

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Dear Colleagues:

Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the first session for our incoming Faculty Senate.  It was not only an opportunity to recognize the exceptional leadership offered this past year by Dr. Dick Evans, but a chance to hear from incoming president Dr. Reginald Green. Before moving on, I want to say thank you to Dr. Evans. Thank you for your hard work, thoughtful contributions, and exceptional leadership.  Dr. Green’s introductory comments resonated so well I thought I would share them unedited.  Let me emphasize a number of themes important to the future of the University of Memphis, including the great opportunities ahead, the constancy of change, the importance of collegial dialogue and debate, and the empowering nature of hope.  I want to thank Dr. Green and all of our senators for their hard work and commitment to the University of Memphis. I look forward to working with you.

 Go Tigers!

 M. David Rudd, Provost

 

 Faculty Senate President Reginald Green’s Inaugural Remarks

Members of the Faculty Senate,

 In the words of Charles Dickens, “These are the best of times; these are the worst of times.” At the University of Memphis, the budget is being reduced by 20 million dollars, departments are being “right-sized,” a new budget model is being developed, and new leadership is in the President’s Office.

Each of these occurrences brings challenges to the faculty. However, opportunities come with each challenge. Opportunities abound to change the way we think about delivering services that will enhance the academic achievement of the students we serve, and opportunities abound to transcend the mundane with the intent of instilling greatness in our students and ourselves.

I would like to inaugurate the 2014-2015 session of the Faculty Senate with words of hope and unity. This year, let us continue to work toward unity.

The University of Memphis is one, and its future and outcomes affect all of us. If we understand this, work toward excellence, and understand that our vision is a common vision, then, shared governance becomes the logical result, even in the midst of change.

Speaking of change, other than the speed of light, and that is debatable; the only constant in the universe is change. To resist change is to suggest that our current practices and procedures are flawless, and I am confident that you would agree that they are not. Therefore, we stand to benefit from meaningful partnerships with the administration so that collectively we engage in processes and procedures that will enhance the quality of the education our students receive.

Granted, we can debate among ourselves and challenge the administration relative to select components of various changes. However, select changes appear to be imminent. Nevertheless, within those changes lie the seeds for a bright new future full of hope; it is our opportunity to seize the day and become one body in communion with each other, our students, and the administration.

Communication is an indispensable element in the human experience; effective and timely communication enables the creation of shared meaning and understanding. To internalize the powers that lie in the spoken word, in humor, and in the creative spirit, we have to foster a sense of oneness with the administration. Making these connections, we take a Unified Holistic Approach to Action. We commit to inspiring our students to find and create meaning in their lives, their work, and the lives of others in a world that sometimes appears meaningless. We commit to becoming a greater university, the greatest university in the Mid-South. We cannot have a great university without a great faculty!

Let us never underestimate the power of collective intention, nor fail to honor integrity and individuality while being committed to cohesiveness and unity. Let us always infuse our work and the work of others with the magic of enthusiasm and the joy of accomplishment so that collectively we become all that we are capable of becoming.

Therefore, our role can become one of engagement in the decision-making process, seeking to be actively engaged in reaching any decision that affects the faculty or that the faculty is responsible for implementing. To that end, the theme proposed for this year is “Connecting the Senate, the Faculty, and Administration for an Enhanced Culture of Shared Governance.”

As a Senate, our focus must be on evidence-based reasons for the positive actions we seek from the administration. Let us become even further engaged and take a proactive stance, rather than a reactive one. Let us bring ideas to the table in a timely manner, ideas that demonstrate to the University, community, and the nation that as a Senate, we are making a positive difference in global education. In essence, the University faculty must be able to see and appreciate our positive and proactive work.

One major task that lies before us is the identification of one to three goals that we will strive to achieve. Then, we need to put an accountability system in place to measure our progress toward their achievement. This can become our first order of business in our orientation meeting scheduled at the beginning of the fall semester.

It is my hope that you will share the vision “Connecting the Senate, the Faculty, and Administration for an Enhanced Culture of Shared Governance.” In the words of Dr. Viktor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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