Emily Witt Receives Keeler Intra-University Professorship

LAWRENCE – Five University of Kansas professors have been selected to pursue special projects designed to develop their scholarship in a field while also fostering collaboration at KU during the 2021-22 academic year.

The following faculty members have been awarded Keeler Intra-University Professorships this academic year:

  • Amy Burgin, environmental studies and ecology & evolutionary biology 
  • Ben Chappell, American studies
  • Trent Herda, health, sport & exercise sciences
  • Michael Krueger, visual art
  • Emily Witt, mathematics

Keeler Intra-University Professorships provide faculty members an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of an academic specialty, to broaden or achieve greater depth in a defined field of study, or to achieve competence in a new area of scholarly endeavor. Their work should also lead to increased collaboration and synergy across disciplines.

Keeler Professorships have supported faculty development for tenured KU faculty since the early 1980s. Faculty members apply for the professorship with the endorsement of their department and dean. Selected faculty are relieved of departmental responsibilities for one semester, and their departments receive financial support to assist with meeting instructional needs. The Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring reviews applicants and selects recipients.

“The center’s mission is to help faculty develop rewarding careers at KU,” said Chris Brown, vice provost for faculty development. “The Keeler Professorship allows tenured faculty to collaborate across disciplines, which leads to groundbreaking work.”

The program is possible through a gift of the Keeler family in memory of W.W. Keeler, petroleum engineering alumnus and former president of the KU Alumni Association. Keeler served as president and chief executive officer of Phillips Petroleum Co. from 1967-1973, and he was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1949-1975, a position he was originally appointed to by President Harry Truman.

Emily Witt

Emily Witt, associate professor of mathematics, will spend the fall 2021 semester collaboEmily Witt, professor of mathematics at the University of Kansasrating with Perry Alexander, who is the AT&T Foundation Distinguished Professor in electrical engineering & computer science (EECS) and director of the Information & Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC). She hopes to begin collaborating with EECS faculty toward solving verification and attestation problems and developing coursework that will be beneficial for both EECS and mathematics students. Witt joined the KU faculty in 2015.

“I hope to master some fundamentals in the theory of remote attestation and proof verification, which includes becoming more proficient with the formal proof management system Coq,” Witt said. “Mathematics and computer science are scientifically interconnected fields, and delving into the latter opens up a completely new and exciting direction for my research program. In both research and teaching endeavors, the natural pairing has the potential to grow and expand into long-term collaborations.”

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