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MSU College of Arts and Sciences appoints inaugural faculty fellows

Melanie Loehwing

Mississippi State’s College of Arts and Sciences is announcing the recently created positions of Dean’s Administrative Faculty Fellows and the two faculty members appointed to this role earlier this year.

Melanie E. Loehwing, associate professor in the Department of Communication, and Kathy M. Sherman-Morris, professor in the Department of Geosciences, are the inaugural selections named by Dean Rick Travis after their respective department heads nominated them to focus on projects enhancing production level within the college.

Tommy Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, said the fellowship positions were designed for two reasons.

“One, the college is working on specific projects that require unique leadership and administrative skills, and we know many members of our faculty possess these traits. Two, it is an important goal to develop administrative leaders with experience to shape the future of the college,” said Anderson, who will work closely with the fellows.

Kathy M. Sherman-Morris

“Dr. Loehwing and Dr. Sherman-Morris were nominated because of their significant contributions to the growth and development of their home departments, but they each bring to the arts and sciences office significant strengths in critical areas such as distance education, student success, graduate education policy, student advising and faculty mentorship,” Anderson said.

“As the university and the college have responded to the global health crisis, their contributions to how we address student and faculty concerns have allowed us to be more effective in serving all of our constituents,” he said.

As faculty fellows, Loehwing and Sherman-Morris are working with graduate coordinators from the college’s 14 departments to create one uniform graduate handbook detailing all policies and classes required of graduate students within the college.

Loehwing is focusing on student retention strategies, as well as focusing attention to revise the college’s core curriculum.

“I feel really honored to be selected to do this,” Loehwing said. “I am excited to give my best efforts to this position because I feel like it is important.”

Sherman-Morris, former director of the Department of Geosciences distance learning program, the largest distance education program at MSU, is assisting with assessment of faculty and graduate student workloads and advising on ways to increase the college’s distance education courses.

“I have enjoyed the administrative aspects of what I did with distance learning [in geosciences], and I think this is a really neat opportunity to get more involved in the college,” Sherman-Morris said.

Both Loehwing and Sherman-Morris said they believe the diversity within the College of Arts and Sciences impacts the entire university.

“The college is at the center of the teaching mission of the university,” Sherman-Morris said, noting the college plays a big role in the lives of all MSU students because of core curriculum.

“We have departments and programs that span every academic discipline and intellectual orientation, which means that you always have colleagues—within and outside your department—who are working on amazing projects. I like being a part of that very vibrant academic community,” Loehwing said.

A native of York, Pennsylvania, Loehwing has been an MSU faculty member for seven years. Her research focuses on rhetoric and democracy with special focus on protests, social movements, and advocacy campaigns that revolve around economic inequality and political polarization.

She is a research fellow for the Social Science Research Center, faculty advisor for Lambda Pi Eta, No Lost Generation and No Longer Bound student organizations. Loehwing received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and her Ph.D. from Indiana University.

Loehwing’s 2018 publication, “Homeless Advocacy and the Rhetorical Construction of the Civic Home” (University Park: Penn State University Press) highlights the need for compassion toward individuals on the economic margins, as well as how society defines people based on their housing status.

A native of the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, Sherman-Morris has been an MSU faculty member since 2003. She received her bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University, a master’s degree from MSU and her Ph.D. from Florida State University.

Sherman-Morris’s research focuses on communication of weather information and the response of individuals during extreme weather. She has been a member of the Arts and Sciences Senate, the University Committee on Courses and Curricula and the Robert Holland Faculty Senate. Previously serving as secretary for the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers, she also has been a board member for the National Weather Association, state coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network and chair of the American Meteorological Society Board on Societal Impacts.

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