1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Kohn to serve as director of Chapman Center for Rural Studies

K-State Today

June 1, 2020

Kohn to serve as director of Chapman Center for Rural Studies

Submitted by Malorie Sougey

Mary Kohn

The College of Arts and Sciences announces Mary Kohn as the new director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies.

Kohn received her Master of Arts in English with a concentration in sociolinguistics in 2008 from North Carolina State University. She received her doctorate in linguistics in 2013 from UNC-Chapel Hill. Since that time, she has been an active member of the English department at Kansas State University.

"Mary's research on Kansas history and culture — especially lost or disappearing voices — aligns so well with the mission of the center and positions her to advocate for its current and future project," said Karin Westman, head of the English department. "Her success as a mentor for undergraduate researchers in her own lab — the Kansas Speaks project — will ensure that the center continues its commitment to undergraduate scholarship. Her work as a teacher and scholar of language also allows her to reside at the intersection of humanities and science, making her well-positioned to attract and retain a variety of interests — both internal and external — for the center's work. We're all excited for the collaborations ahead."

Kohn's monograph, "The way I communicate changes, but how I speak don't," was published in 2014 by Duke University Press. Her latest book, "African American Language: Language Development from Infancy to Adulthood," co-authored with Walt Wolfram, Charlie Farrington, Janneke Van Hofwegen and Jennifer Renn, will be available through Cambridge University Press this fall.

Throughout her career, Kohn has worked to explore the intersection between language, culture and identity. As lead principal investigator on the Kansas Speaks Project, she works with her students to uncover the rich linguistic legacies hidden in the Great Plains, while investigating how language use in Kansas continues to develop and change.

"The Chapman Center has done so much to promote rural studies in Kansas by growing undergraduate research opportunities and supporting innovation on rural studies," Kohn said. "With this foundation, we have a real opportunity to form collaborations between students, faculty, and communities to continue telling the stories of rural communities in the Great Plains."

Kohn will begin her position as director on Aug. 9.

"We are thrilled to have a person of Dr. Kohn's caliber as our new Chapman Center director," said Amit Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Under her leadership, the Chapman Center's important research and outreach activities will continue to thrive."

The Chapman Center for Rural Studies seeks to strengthen rural Kansas communities while advancing student learning. Led by faculty mentors, the center fosters engaged undergraduate research and digital scholarship. As a center of excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Chapman Center welcomes the expertise of different disciplines and recognizes the signal contributions of diverse Kansas communities past, present and future.