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Inaugural visiting professorship series begins with Kansas professor

February 25, 2015

University of Kansas Professor Donald Worster will lecturing at UW-River Falls in early March as a part of the inaugural Walker D. and Helen Bryant Wyman Endowed Visiting Professorship series.

Worster is a Hall Distinguished Professor of American History Emeritus at Kansas, and he is also a internationally renowned scholar.

“This is actually something that came up two years ago when Bry Wyman, who is a graduate of [UWRF], then a long-time successful physician, became the first living donor to donate $1 million to [UWRF], and he specifically donated this money in the name of his dad and his mom,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Brad Caskey.

Walker D. Wyman, Bry’s father, was a long-time history professor at UWRF and eventually went on to be the chancellor at UW-Whitewater.

“What [Bry] set up is called the Walker D. and Helen Bryant Wyman Endowed Visiting Professorship, and [Bry] divided it between the departments of history and art,” Caskey said. “The goal of this is to every year bring in at least one visiting professor in each of those areas and hopefully, probably, two, one each semester, who will be able to meet with our students, specifically to offer some hands-on experience and then do a public presentation.”

Worster will be meeting with students on March 5. He will meet students from “U.S. Environmental History” and “U.S. History Since 1865.”

“[The students are] getting a chance to meet someone who may be one of the biggest people in their field,” Caskey said. “A chance to talk about what it was like to be in that area, what kind of opportunities there are and who else who they might talk with.”

Worster will also present two lectures. The first lecture, titled “Wilderness: The Higher Altruism in American Environmental Values,”  will take place on Wednesday, March 4. The presentation starts at 4 p.m. in the Kinnickinnic River Room in the University Center after a public reception that begins at 3 p.m.

“I know we are going to bring in people who are really excited about working with students and that is something different,” Caskey said. “We’re going to bring in professionals both in the history and art field that are really interested in learning with students, meeting with students and helping them grow as people.”

The second presentation, titled “Shrinking the Earth:  From an Age of Abundance to an Age of Limits,” will take place on Friday, March 6. The presentation will be at the River Falls Public Library starting at 7 p.m. after a public reception that starts at 6 p.m.

Our impact on the Earth, over time, has changed and there have been many things that have caused it. According to Eric Sanden, professor of environmental science at UWRF, some of the major things that have happened in the past include the Industrial Revolution and the 1930 Dust Bowl. Three of the big issues now are climate change, habitat loss and water scarcity.

“Just by sheer magnitude, the numbers, with seven billion people on earth, we have what they call a ‘multiplier effect,’ where even small issues when you multiply by seven billion become major issues, like recycling paper or plastic bottles,” Sanden said. “It may not seem, on an individual basis, to be a big deal, but collectively it is in fact a very big deal. On the other hand, you can also look at that as a positive. Any positive effect we can have multiplied by seven billion makes great change as well. So if each one of us pitches in and does our part then we can see substantial changes in those issues.”

The visiting professor in art will be coming at the end of April. More information can be found at: www.uwrf.edu/HIST/Events/Wyman.cfm.