Faculty Writing Place offers comfort, private space for research

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By ADRIANNA TARIN
UNK Communications

KEARNEY – A new series of workshops at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has been established to help support and enhance faculty research and writing.

The Faculty Writing Place, which follows a trend at other universities across the country, is a half-day or one-day workshop that allows faculty to gather and write with no distractions from family, students or cell phones.

“We provide food and a quiet space to allow them to write on any project they want. A second space is available, the one with the food, for them to talk or take a break,” said John La Duke, dean of natural and social sciences.

The workshops are meant to be both social and private. The first workshop took place Feb. 8 as the kickoff to a series of three for the semester. Other workshops are scheduled for March 15 and April 12.

“I want the participants to make progress on a project,” La Duke said. “Time is a critical element in our profession and finding large blocks of uninterrupted time is tough. We facilitate that.”

La Duke and Doug Biggs, associate professor of history, joined the group for the first session and did their own writing with the 12 other faculty who attended.

“Doug Biggs reminded me that I had talked about this with him a couple of years ago, and we decided to set up some sessions for this semester,” La Duke said. “We do not know how often will be best in the future, but I think three a semester is a good start.”

Lisa Kastello, assistant professor of art and art history, is in her second year at UNK and third year as a professor. She joined the first writing session.

“For the past 16 years I have been a high school teacher, so scholarly writing as a required activity is a new practice for me,” Kastello said. “I decided to attend the workshop in order to be surrounded by people of like mind. Think of it in terms of a study group or parallel play. The topics, the subject, the toys may be different, but the task is the same.”

Kastello sees many benefits from participating in the writing workshops.

“We were in a bright room full of natural light. If you needed to bounce an idea off someone it only took minutes. We were all in it together,” Kastello said.

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Source: John La Duke, 308.895.8518, dean of natural and social sciences
Writer: Adrianna Tarin, 308.865.8454, tarinay@lopers.unk.edu

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