The publication of the inaugural issue of The Eagle Feather is the culmination of a university-wide interdisciplinary process that began in 1994 when the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences made the decision to develop a University-wide honors program. It is with great pleasure that the University Honors Program celebrates ten years of dedication to academic excellence and service to students by launching The Eagle Feather.
Research in the University Honors Program
One feature of the University Honors Program curriculum is the thesis option that allows students to engage in a research and writing project in their major. Over the life of the program, nearly 100 students have produced an undergraduate thesis, supervised jointly by the student’s mentor in his or her major area and by Dr. Cox in Honors. We are proud of the accomplishments of these students.
A major development came in 1999 when Dr. David Kesterson, then Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Texas, appointed a task force to review the University Honors Program and make recommendations for its growth and enhancement. One of the group’s major ideas was to strengthen the research component of the program and encourage more Honors students to write a thesis. The movement gained strength in 2002 when an interdisciplinary search committee was organized to recruit a faculty member to work with Dr. Cox to develop the thesis option. Dr. Susan Brown Eve was hired as the assistant director of Honors to head up the research initiative.
The director and assistant director worked with a broadly representative interdisciplinary committee in Spring 2003 to develop a research track in Honors that students wanting to write a thesis could select. The plan was to develop two new courses to introduce students to research as freshmen and then to assist students in acquiring the knowledge and skill to develop a formal thesis proposal. The final step would be the high quality thesis produced by each student pursuing the track.
At the suggestion of Dr. James Duban, Director of the Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships, the goal was to have students complete the thesis by the beginning of the senior year in order to have papers accepted for presentation at professional meetings and/or published in refereed journals prior to graduation. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of that committee, which included Professor James Duban, representing the humanities and the Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships; Professors Reid Ferring, Sam Matteson, Michael Monticino, and Earl Zimmerman, representing physical and life sciences and mathematics; Professors John Booth, Steve Cobb, Tom Evenson, Tyson Gibbs, Ernest Harrell, Stan Ingman, and Manish Vaidya, representing the social and behavioral sciences; Professor Don Schol, representing the visual arts; Professor Deanna Bush, representing music; Professors Jean Keller, Diane Allen, and Beth Durodoye, representing education; Professor Lou Pelton, representing business; and Jenny Jopling, representing distributed learning. We are especially grateful to the four Honors students who served on the committee: Andreas Berg (music), Tammy Chan (biological sciences), Sandra Ehlert (anthropology), and Debra Rogers (psychology).
Our research initiative was moved forward again by membership in the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), an interdisciplinary organization that has been an advocate for undergraduate research for 25 years. We gratefully acknowledge the willingness of the McNair Program and its director, Ms. Judy Morris, to share the cost of CUR membership with Honors for the first year. Membership in the Council on Undergraduate Research increases UNT’s visibility as a quality institution for undergraduate education, and provides university faculty with an opportunity to benefit from the resources for undergraduate research education provided through publications and networking at conferences specifically devoted to fostering undergraduate research. We are delighted that Dr. Susan Eve has been selected to be a National Councilor in the Social Sciences for the Council on Undergraduate Research.
The University Honors Program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and the regional affiliate, the Great Plains Honors Council. Both these organizations offer resources and networking for faculty and students interested in undergraduate research. With support from the Honors Program, Dr. Eve took six Honors students to the regional Honors meeting in San Antonio in Spring 2004. Our students participated in poster sessions on their works in progress. Two of the students who presented at that conference, Levi Thomson and Chris Henson, have their papers published in this inaugural issue of The Eagle Feather.
In Spring 2004, the University Honors Program hosted the first university-wide Scholars Day. This event was more than two years in the making, and we take great pride in providing a forum for undergraduate students from any major to showcase the work they are doing under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The electronic journal is the natural extension of the presentations made by our students on Scholars Day.
Although our commitment to the development of an undergraduate research journal was strong, the task was a daunting one that called for technical expertise well beyond the capabilities and financial resources of the University Honors Program. A chance conversation between the director and Dr. Donald Grose, Dean of Libraries at UNT, resulted in a solution. Dr. Gross volunteered the services of his expert staff to provide the technical expertise to develop a website for the journal and to maintain it for five years as a demonstration of the potential of electronic publishing. Thanks to the vision and generosity of Dean Grose and his staff, our dream of a journal is now a reality.
We send a special thank you to Sue Parks, Head of Media Services, who mentored us through the development of the journal website. Her thorough knowledge of website publishing and her meticulous attention to detail and incredible organizational skills are responsible for the professional polish of the journal. We would also like to thank Melody Kelly, Associate Dean of Libraries, and Cathy Hartman, Department Head of Digital Projects, for their assistance and support.
Content of The Eagle Feather, Volume I
The inaugural issue of the journal begins with the Scholars Day Keynote Address presented by Dr. Sam Matteson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and a major participant in planning the new research initiative. His remarks appear in this issue of The Eagle Feather. In his essay, “Common Threads in Research across Disciplines: A Reflection,” Dr. Matteson examines the six characteristics that are shared by research in all disciplines – observation, with which all research begins; vision, to ask creative research questions; logistics, to acquire and organize the resources to plan the experiment; experiment, or research design, to find the answer to the research question; assessment, to find the meaning of the results; and communication, to share the research findings with others.
The heart of the journal is the work of the talented undergraduate scholars whose research papers are included. All five of the students featured in this issue of TEF participated in the University Honors Program. They represent the disciplines of art history, history, journalism, political science, and psychology.
Danielle Pierce (Art History, Honors) first presented the results of her research at Scholars Day in April 2004. Her work for “The Government’s Girls: How the United States Government Used Poster Art to Recruit Women to the Workforce During World War Two,” is the very model of interdisciplinary research that the Honors Program seeks to encourage. Ms. Pierce’s faculty mentors are Dr. Jennifer Way, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, School of Visual Arts; and Dr. Jill Dupont, Assistant Professor of History, College of Arts and Sciences. In her research, Ms. Pierce combined the expertise of her two mentors to study the use of poster art to recruit women to work in industrial jobs left vacant by men who volunteered or were drafted to fight in World War II. The exodus of men to war brought women to work outside their homes in the greatest percentage ever to that time in the United States, and dramatically changed the perception of women’s roles. Danielle is currently pursuing a graduate degree in art history at Tulane University.
Chris Henson (Political Science & Criminal Justice, Honors) conducted the research for his paper, “Superior Orders and Duress in International Law and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia,” under the direction of two members of the faculty in the Department of Political Science, Dr. James Meernik, Associate Professor and Chair, and Dr. Kimi King, Associate Professor and Director of the Prelaw Program at UNT. Mr. Henson collected data for his paper from case findings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and from interviews he conducted in person with participants in those trials during a study trip to The Hague, Netherlands. Chris Henson is currently a graduate student in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.
Levi Thomson (Radio, Television & Film, Honors) was mentored in his research on the history of UNT’s radio station by Dr. Steve Craig, Professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film. Mr. Thomson’s research for his paper, “KNTU: A History,” consists of analysis of historical documents and newspaper archives related to KNTU’s founding in 1969 in a corner of the speech and drama department and its subsequent development into a major radio station, as well as personal interviews with people who were directly involved in that history. Levi’s research reveals that KNTU is unique among university radio stations in the extent of student involvement in programming, production, and management.
The final two papers in the journal were both written as undergraduate theses in the Department of Psychology and the Honors Program. Amanda Chase (General Studies, Honors) developed her paper, “The Effect of Coping on the Physical and Mental Health of Abused Women,” under the tutelage of Dr. Linda Marshall (Professor and Chair) and Mr. Jeff Temple, a doctoral student, in the Department of Psychology. Ms. Chase was among the first seven students to complete the junior level Honors course in thesis development. Her work is a testament to the success of the model in preparing students to complete a thesis of superior quality in a timely fashion. Ms. Chase used secondary analysis of data from Dr. Marshall’s longitudinal study of the Health of Women (Project HOW) in south Dallas. In her research, Ms. Chase found that abuse had a greater impact on women’s mental health than physical health, and that psychological abuse had a greater impact on mental health than either physical violence or sexual aggression. Amanda’s research experience was instrumental in landing her a job with the Congressional Award Foundation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Rachel White’s (Psychology, Honors) paper was also developed as a thesis in the Department of Psychology under the direction of Dr. Sharon Jenkins. Ms. White’s research was previously presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu, Hawaii, in August 2004. Her participation in a national professional conference is another positive model for what is possible when a strong faculty mentor and a mature and serious undergraduate student collaborate. In her article, “The TAT Affect Scale and the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems: How Problems Relate to Interpersonal Affect,” Ms. White investigated, for the first time, the correlation between interpersonal problems and themes in TAT stories related to spouses, parents and nonspousal friends.
The final article in the journal highlights an innovative course in the Department of Anthropology that incorporates a high quality research experience for students. The Department of Anthropology, under the leadership of Dr. Tyson Gibbs, Professor and Chair, has become known among students and faculty at UNT for its exemplary undergraduate teaching. Dr. Christina Wasson, an assistant professor in anthropology, teaches a course that deals with human communication and culture. In her course, Dr. Wasson requires students to conduct a linguistic analysis of human social interaction in a field setting. Two of her students, Megan Ko and Joshua Miner, produced exceptionally good class research projects in Spring 2004. Dr. Wasson and her students share lessons learned from this experience in their collaborative descriptive essay, “Research Projects in ANTH 4010 “Language and Culture”: The Case for a Student Research Institutional Review Board.”
The commitment to undergraduate research at the University of North Texas is extraordinary, which means that many individuals have dedicated time, energy, and expertise to developing appropriate projects and mentoring students. We want to express our special gratitude to members of the University Honors Program Executive Committee 2004 for their support of the program and the research initiative in particular. They include Professors Deanna Bush, Tom Clark, James Duban, Beth Durodoye, Reid Ferring, Steven Forde, Sam Matteson, Gerard O’Donovan, Louis Pelton, Jean Schaake, John Todd, Jennifer Way, and Earl Zimmerman. The journal also would not have been possible without the support of the University Honors Program staff including Dr. David Taylor, the Honors Academic Advisor, and most especially Maureen Landers, whose good humor and organizational efficiency can overcome any obstacle. We are also grateful for the fine work of Linda Strube who reviewed and edited the manuscripts.
As we all recognize, a university project that lacks the support of the institution’s administration is doomed to fail, so we send our sincere gratitude to President Norval Pohl and Provost Howard Johnson whose support of University Honors and the undergraduate research initiative is significant. We appreciate their substantial and ongoing efforts on behalf of the program.
Finally, we thank our students who are never content with mediocrity, but demand of themselves the very best. They recognize the value of their work not only to their continued education and career development, but also to scholarship in general and the promotion of knowledge in all areas.
Gloria Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Susan Brown Eve, Editor
October 1, 2004