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Welcome Fellowship Allows Three FSU Professors to Pursue Research

Three professors at Frostburg State University are recipients of the Henry C. Welcome Fellowship, an incentive program designed to help colleges and universities attract and maintain a diverse faculty. One is in his third year and two are beginning their first.

Awards are made to new, full-time, minority faculty members whose appointments will improve the diversity of their institutions. The $20,000 award from the Maryland Higher Education Commission is paid over a three-year period and is designed to assist the fellow with research or other academic development through a variety of means.

Dr. Jean Marie Makang, assistant professor of philosophy and coordinator of FSU's interdisciplinary African American Studies minor, is beginning the third year of his fellowship. His aim has been to broaden the African American Studies program and allow it to draw more people from the surrounding community to events on campus, such as the African American Studies Forum last year.

He has also been able to travel to West Africa and France for his research on the African Diaspora and related issues, and the multiple cultural dimensions it takes on from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States and Europe.

The fellowship has also allowed him to travel to some national academic conferences. He has a book in the works and enough accumulated research for another couple of years of writings.

"I've invested a lot of energy into African American Studies," Makang said. It was his primary focus during the first two years of his fellowship. His aim is to bring a multicultural perspective to teaching, he said.

One of the two new Welcome Fellows is Dr. Baxter B. Wright, new chair of the FSU Department of Social Work. He is planning to focus his research on studying the impact of the 1997 welfare reform bill upon rural residents of Appalachia.

Dr. Wright began research on this topic while at his most recent post as a member of the graduate faculty in the School of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Dr. Wright said that conventional wisdom assumes that because there is a five-year lifetime cap for recipients receiving cash payments, this latest welfare reform legislation will be harmful to children and will lead to such things as increases in domestic violence and substance abuse. However, his initial research is not showing this to be the case. He points out that while his initial findings are quite interesting, as well as unexpected, they also indicate the need for additional study to validate his early findings. He feels this type of research can serve as the basis to assist lawmakers and legislators in revising, fine-tuning or supporting existing welfare policies.

With his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan, Dr. Wright's research spans several areas of interest. He has published, presented papers and conducted scholarly workshops on such topics as aging, school violence, community development, social work practice in rural areas, social work with minority families, and social work with the children of divorcing couples.

In addition to teaching at Wayne State, Auburn, Florida State, Florida A&M and Stephen F. Austin State University, Dr. Wright maintained a private social work practice in Tallahassee, Fla., working with individuals, children, groups and families. His areas of specialization were working with Vietnam-era veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, children of divorcing couples and assisting divorcing couples to place the needs of their children first.

The third recipient, Dr. Carole G. Parker, will be teaching graduate-level courses in the newly unified departments of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration. With a specialty in organizational development, she's planning to focus her research on how organizations manage - or mismanage - differences.

She said the concept of diversity in organizations has become divisive. Viewing the challenge of accepting differences is more inclusive.

She said the challenge for organizations today is "how can we deal with the fact that we're all different?"

Parker started her career in social work, but as her career and studies advanced, she expanded her focus from working with individuals to working with groups. Her doctorate is from Case Western University in Cleveland in organizational development and analysis.

"I am focused on the human side of business," she said, "and my work has a direct effect on the bottom line." Employees who feel they make a valuable contribution are more effective workers, she said.

FSU's previous recipient of the Welcome Fellowship was Dr. Gersham Nelson, a history professor who began the African American Studies program at FSU. He received the fellowship in 1988. He is now chairman of the Department of History and Philosophy at Eastern Michigan University, after spending a decade at FSU.

The fellowship is in honor of Dr. Henry C. Welcome, a former member of the Maryland State Board for Higher Education, which has been replaced by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He was on staff at several Baltimore hospitals and taught at the Provident Hospital nursing school. He was active in politics with his wife, the late Md. State Sen. Verda F. Welcome, the first black woman in the United States to be elected a state senator. During the civil rights era of the 1960s and '70s, the Welcomes worked with Democratic organizations to make positive changes for the people of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

For further information on this release, contact:

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