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Department of Modern Languages
The University of Mississippi

Dr. Stephen Fafulas Named Faculty Laureate

Mississippi Lab project encourages creativity, outreach among faculty

Fafulas laureate

Stephen Fafulas, associate professor of Spanish and linguistics at the University of Mississippi, has been chosen as one of two inaugural faculty laureates at the university. Fafulas plans to develop ways for Ole Miss faculty and students to serve Latino communities across the region. Photo by Srijita Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

APRIL 16, 2024

A faculty jury has chosen Stephen Fafulas, associate professor of Spanish and linguistics, and Amanda Winburn, associate professor of leadership and counselor education, as the first two honorees in an innovative new program designed to introduce the state to the creative faculty who research and teach at the University of Mississippi.

Fafulas and Winburn are the university’s inaugural faculty laureates, a designation that showcases excellence in academic inquiry, creative endeavor and communication.

Developed and managed by the Mississippi Lab, the Faculty Laureates program includes stipends for travel, project development and reduced course loads for the honorees’ terms, which begin Aug. 15. After six months, laureates propose full projects and apply for additional funding.

“The selection and support of these two outstanding professors as inaugural faculty laureates at the University of Mississippi is yet another testament to the creativity and rigor of our public flagship institution of higher education,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “Both Dr. Fafulas and Dr. Winburn’s work are certain to contribute to advancements in their respective fields and to the establishment of this new program and future honorees to come.”

The Faculty Laureates program is underwritten by the Dr. Daniel W. Jones Endowment for Faculty Support, named for the university’s 16th chancellor, who served from 2009 to 2015.

Both honorees said they have big plans for their terms as laureates.

“My goal as a UM laureate is to create opportunities and partnerships between UM students and faculty, as well as other schools and the public, to serve Latinx communities across the U.S. South, especially those in Mississippi and near SEC universities,” said Fafulas, who has worked with Latinx communities across the South since 2013.

He teaches and conducts research in sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, U.S. Spanish and Amazonian Spanish while mentoring students as director of the Study of Community Involvement and Outreach in Linguistics Laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the SEC Spanish Consortium.

Winburn, whose specialty area is in school counseling and play therapy, has been a registered play therapist since 2016.

“I hope by partnering with the Mississippi Lab, I will be able to engage in creative and meaningful ways to enhance education, student engagement, and positively impact school-based mental health across the state through play-based interventions,” she said. “Being a part of this program will allow me the opportunity to continue to build new alliances and partner with school districts across the state.”

John T. Edge, Mississippi Lab director, worked with Wilkin and several UM faculty members to develop the program.

“No other university that I know has developed a creativity initiative that is this broad and inclusive, Edge said. “The finalists chosen for our inaugural faculty laureates cohort make clear that creative faculty work across all University of Mississippi schools and departments.”

The stipends and course releases will give the professors freedom to pursue big, change-making projects that might not otherwise be realizable. A jury will choose laureates every two years.

“One of our goals is to introduce the state of Mississippi and the world to our innovative faculty,” Edge said. “That engagement will positively impact those scholars as well as the audiences they gather.”

Faculty Laureates is one of three Mississippi Lab programs, along with Staff Creative Residencies, in its third year, and the Greenfield Farm Writers Residence, set to open in 2025.

Read the story at the College of Liberal Arts.