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Weitl aims to use professorship to finishbook

Phil Weitl, English associate professor, has been appointed to the Ardis Butler James Endowed Professorship for 2014-15. 

The professorship creates an opportunity for faculty in the arts and sciences to have time and resources to focus on the development of original scholarship or creative work.

Weitl will use the award to help him complete his book project, “Spinning. A Memoir.”

Under the professorship, Weitl will have one less course to teach during the academic year, a small salary increase and additional resources to help with expenses, such as travel, research or publication fees.

“Everything about (the professorship) is designed to say, ‘Hey, you have a creative or scholarly project that we think is interesting that we want you to pursue,’” Weitl said. “‘Here are some resources for you that aren’t normally there.’”

Weitl, who is on sabbatical this semester to work on his memoir, said the book is about his time he spent during his 20s as a speechwriter for then-Gov. Mike Johanns, who is currently serving as one of Nebraska's two senators.

“The working title is a play on the spin doctor title (used in public relations and politics),” he said. “At the same time, I was kind of personally spinning. Not particularly out of control, I was just green in experience.”

He said the professorship is a positive thing part of what Doane does for its professors, particularly for the arts and humanities faculty. Research is so important, but a lot of people think of the sciences or psychology and sociology when they think of research, he said. The works done in the arts or humanities can get forgotten.

“This is a really wonderful device to give people space, to sort of indulge and explore some stuff they might not otherwise have pursued,” Weitl said. “It’s really good to take the time to sort of improve and sharpen (your chosen) ability or skill. Then we can pass that on and transfer it to our students.”