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Press Releases

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

PACE Founders Earn Second Elkins Professorship Award

SALISBURY, MD--- For Salisbury University professors Francis Kane and Harry Basehart, lightning has struck twice.

In a rare instance, the two were honored with a second consecutive Wilson H. Elkins Professorship in recognition of their efforts with the Presidential Citizen Scholars Program, a new initiative from SU’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) which the two professors direct. Professors Basehart and Kane are only SU’s second honorees to receive this award and first to receive it twice in a row.

“We feel honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Basehart, “particularly since we realize how very rare it is for professors to receive it  two years in a row.”  Added Kane: “More than the personal honor, we’re grateful that Chancellor Kirwan and the System office are so excited and supportive of our efforts in getting students engaged in the civic life of our communities.”

Only one other SU professor, Dr. K. Peter Lade in 1999, has earned the prestigious award established to perpetuate the name and contributions of Wilson Elkins, a former Rhodes Scholar who led the University of Maryland to new levels of distinction as its president from 1954-1978. When the new University System of Maryland began in 1988, Dr. Elkins agreed that his professorship should extend to the entire USM family.

The Professorship’s review committee chose the two SU Professors for the $80,000 award because of the “proposal’s promise of direct involvement with students, the potential to continue to move SU forward in a exciting new direction, and the promise of System-wide impact,” wrote USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan in a letter congratulating the recipients. “This money will let us expand the program to two years and invite more students,”  said Pauline Gehnrich, PACE’s managing director. “We already have about 50 students from 19 different majors signed up for this year.”

Students who do participate this year will have an extended and more developed experience. “We’re upping the requirements,” Kane said, “and I think we’ll have a smoother, better program. We’ll also be able to identify the attitudes, skills and dispositions that are going to be necessary for young people to have when they enter their communities after graduation.”

Basehart added that while the program will be more intense, students will be able to balance it with their schedules. “We’re still trying to make it an intensive involvement but not something that’s going to use every spare minute a student has. We want it to be reasonable in its demands and involve students from different majors,” he said.

The program has the enthusiastic support of President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. In her nomination letter, she wrote: “Last year, I suggested to [Kane and Basehart] that they call their new initiative the Presidential Citizen Scholars because I wanted our students to know how seriously I took civic education.” The two awardees hope to offer the Presidential Citizen Scholars Program as an initiative to be copied throughout the University System of Maryland. “Drs. Basehart and Kane have demonstrated to me that their very successful pilot program, the Presidential Citizen Scholars, has the potential to be a model program both within Maryland and across the nation,” said Dudley-Eshbach. 

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at


Harry Basehart (Ph.D. The Ohio State University)

A professor and former chair of Salisbury University’s Political Science Department, Basehart has taught courses on local, state and national government for more than 30 years. He also has supervised SU’s General Assembly interns since 1976 and directed more than 300 students in governmental internships.

Basehart was a member of Governor Parris Glendening’s Special Committee on Voting Systems and Election Procedures. He is a recipient of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents’ highest honor, the Faculty Award for Excellence in Community Service. He has co-authored articles for American Politics Quarterly and Legislative Studies Quarterly. He co-authored State and Local Government: Politics and Public Policies, a college textbook now in its eighth edition from McGraw Hill.

A Vietnam War veteran, he has returned to the country twice, in 1997 and 2001. “I wanted to see how the country had changed since the war,” he said. “Over one-half of the Vietnamese population today was born after the war ended. Many of them don’t have any direct connection to the war. They want to put it behind them more so than many Americans. They want to establish a better relationship with the United States.”


Francis Kane (Ph.D. Georgetown University)

Fran Kane has been a member of the Philosophy Department for 30 years, serving as its chair for more than half that time. Teaching politics and professional ethics, he chaired committees that authored the University’s mission statement, inaugurated the Honors Program and developed the Fulton School’s long-range plan that led to PACE’s founding. He also chaired the Wicomico County Board of Education Values Committee, which developed a nationally recognized policy for teaching about religion in public schools.

In addition, he has written numerous articles during the past two decades for publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Hastings Center Report, Commonweal and The Cambridge Journal for International Health Care.

His book, Neither Beasts nor Gods: Civic Life and the Public Good, published by Southern Methodist University Press, was praised by Dan Rather: “Clearly written and persuasively argued, this book should be read by serious students and armchair philosophers—and I daresay by the press and public officeholders, too.” William F. May said of Kane’s book, “He writes with that touch of grace which we prize in a G.K. Chesterton and a C.S.Lewis.” Both Basehart and Kane have earned SU’s Distinguished Faculty Award. "

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