At Shawnee State University, guest lecturers from all over the world are brought in to speak.
The Jane M.G. Foster Distinguished Lecture Series is named after Jane Foster who was a successful woman in the mid 1900s, and faced much adversity because she was a woman. Despite the struggles of discrimination, she worked hard. Toward the end of her life, she made generous donations to the university, making a way for guest speakers to come to town.
Sean Dunne, a sociology professor at Shawnee State, is on the committee that helps organize the Distinguished Lecture Series.
“Basically, we’re bringing in contemporary people who are talking about either the latest research or current topics,” Dunne said. “It allows them to speak to faculty and students, as well as people from the community.”
Many different types of speakers will be visiting the university over the course of the school year, and many topics are relevant to those in the surrounding community.
“For example, Benjamin Busch will be talking about veterans and the notion of service to people who are coming back to small town America that are facing economic challenges,” Dunne said. “That is something that would appeal to the local community, and also students of ours who are veterans. So, one of the things we would like to do is to invite veteran organizations to attend. We might be able to get insight to these issues from different generations.”
Creating a stronger connection between the town of Portsmouth and Shawnee State University is something Dunne is passionate about. It is a special opportunity to learn from others.
“I think it would be beneficial to create a better relationship between the university and the community,” Dunne said. “It’s great to be able to bring speakers in that have different specializations. We have really talented faculty in the natural sciences, but we might not have someone who specializes in the area of bees for example. So, we can bring someone in and educate the students and community on their area of expertise.”
Keeping up with contemporary research is necessary for the university, and they have received recognition in different areas for their work in bringing people to the University.
“Part of the reason we won the Alpha Kappa Delta Chapter of the Year Award for the Sociology Club, it was based on our inviting speakers in,” Dunne said. “Part of the recognition for our program was that we were inviting speakers who are producing research that is contemporary in sociology.”