URI professor awarded Fulbright to Poland
KINGSTON R.I. -- October 19, 1998 -- It's a good thing the Cold War has
melted because there's nothing lukewarm about Dr. John Leo of the east
side of Providence.
A professor of English and chair of the Film Studies Program at URI,
Leo is a passionate scholar and a dynamic teacher whose students would never
dare fall asleep lest they miss a poignant point or witticism.
Recognizing Leo's impressive academic accomplishments, the J. William
Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has awarded the URI
professor a Fulbright grant to the Marie Curie-Sklodowska University
in Lublin, Poland. Leo was named "Distinguished Lecturer in American
Studies" at Lublin. Only a handful of awards fall into that category.
He will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in American cultural
studies, film studies, literature and media, assist in the research and
training of junior faculty, and help design and develop of curriculum as
well as give lectures on American studies throughout the Polish university
system. He will also teach a seminar on Jack Kerouac and the beat tradition.
His grant runs from December to June 1999.
Leo can hardly wait to go. "It's one of the most exciting places
to be, " says the URI professor who backpacked through the country
during the 1970s. "The full force of modernism hasn't arrived. Yet
the country was on the very vanguard of political reform with the Solidarity
Poland is known for its creative graphics and designs as well as its
remarkable film industry with such innovative directors as Polanski, according
to Leo, adding that the country is Europeanized with international malls
and foods and has the best potato vodka in the world.
American studies are very popular in Eastern Europe, according to the
URI professor who is moderately fluent in Russian and Spanish and reads
French. This summer, Leo was with a Fulbright group in Krakow taking intensive
training in the Polish language as well as seminars in history, church-state
relations, the economics and politics of Poland since World War I.
Leo said his work will emphasize comparative studies. Leo says it is
a major irony in higher education that restructuring, curricular reform,
new technologies, and other seismic shifts are now evident among universities
worldwide despite their radically different local histories and teaching
traditions. As a visiting scholar, he will have an unparalleled opportunity
to observe how Polish students, colleagues, and citizens adapt to changing
cultural forms and institutional practices.
Leo says URI over the past few years has made a conscious effort and
commitment to internationalization of its academic programs and its institutional
practices, especially faculty and student exchanges, partnerships among
universities, businesses, engineering firms, etc. His contacts and networking
opportunities will contribute to URI's endeavor.
"This is a prestigious award for Professor Leo. I'm delighted to
see his reputation as a scholar and teacher internationally recognized,
" says Dr. Winifred Brownell, interim dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences. "This newest award to another member of our talented faculty
highlights URI's scholarship in the humanities and coincides with the College
of Arts and Science's 50th Anniversary."
Leo, who is "disinclined by nature to be aloof or asocial,"
is looking forward to his visit with relish. No doubt, this extroverted
professor will have the Polish laughing and learning.
For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116